Paul Morris: ‘Bitterly disappointed’
Row erupts over who takes clean-up credit
Community group dismisses politicians’ claims
AN embarrassing row has blown up in Finsbury Park over who is responsible for major environmental and anti-crime improvements to rundown Blackstock Road.
FinFuture – an independent, community-led body representing residents and businesses – has written a stinging letter to Hackney Labour Party accusing it of “giving a false impression” that its three ward councillors were responsible for the work.
The letter, from FinFuture chairman Paul Morris, owner of the Business Design Centre in Angel, called on Labour councillor Brian Bell to set the record straight.
Hackney Labour Party has hit back, arguing that it has been campaigning for the work to be done and is entitled to some credit.
The row began with a Hackney Labour flyer headed “Your Labour councillors fight to clean up Blackstock Road”.
The leaflet continued: “Working with traders to improve their safety and businesses. We have installed AlertBoxes, made shop front improvement grants available and are seeking funding for CCTV.”
The circular drew instant fire from FinFuture, which has an office in Seven Sisters Road. It declared: “Credit where credit is due, but not when you haven’t done the work!”
FinFuture maintained it was carrying out the improvements in partnership with the police, Islington Council and the Arab Advice Bureau. It says the main funding partner for the work has been the London Development Agency through the Town Centres for City Growth Project.
In a statement this week, FinFuture said: “It should be understood that neither the Labour councillors referred to in the flyer nor the Labour Party for Hackney played any part in the provision of funding or implementation of this work.
“Furthermore, it should be understood that Hackney Council did not provide any funding for the projects for which this credit is claimed.”
Mr Morris said: “Our trustees and I are bitterly disappointed that Cllr Bell did not circulate a correction to this flyer. He has left it to FinFuture to correct the false and misleading impression created by the councillors and the Labour Party. We expected more from the Hackney councillor appointed to our board. This situation places a significant question mark over the role that Hackney councillors play in their partnership with FinFuture.”
Cllr Brian Bell admitted that the leaflet may have given the wrong impression.
He added: “Unfortunately, it was edited down for printing, and without local knowledge as to the importance of these references. We have explained this to Finfuture on several occasions now.
“However, the funding referred to was provided by former Mayor Ken Livingstone’s Labour administration at City Hall.
“We lobbied for it, and I believe are entitled to some credit, jointly with other partners.
“Many of the necessary improvements, for example the crime dispersal zone, could only have been brought in by the three councils and the police.
“We’ve worked constructively with Finfuture in the past and hope to continue to do.”