Liberal Democrats reject neighbourhood forum

Pic: Nicobobinus

Hackney’s Liberal Democrat Party has withdrawn support for a proposed “Stamford Hill Neighbourhood Forum” which is hoping to take on local development, under the terms of the Localism Act 2011. The Liberal Democrats brand the plans as “vague and unprofessional”, “too large” and “undemocratic”.

The one Liberal Democrat councillor who had been invited to join the forum, Dawood Akhoon of Cazenove ward, said in a press statement: “I cannot continue to support them unless they involve me in meetings.”

The plan for a forum has been submitted to the council and a decision will be made on February 4th. The proposed forum, if it gets council go-ahead,  proposes designating Lordship, New River, Springfield and Cazenove wards as a single neighbourhood taking in the whole of the Stoke Newington area, north of Church Street.

These criticisms of the plan echo those of local community group, Hackney Planning Watch, who say on their website: “the [SNCF] project is designed to benefit the political interests of a handful of politicians at the risk of increasing tensions in the area over contentious planning issues. The greater this tension, the more these politicians gain by characterising themselves as the champions of one sector of the community.”

Local residents have also expressed concern about the involvement of Isaac Leibowitz as the committee secretary, who has previously been expelled from both the Labour and Conservative parties, and was jailed in 2001 for electoral fraud.

Hackney Planning Watch have now handed in a counter proposal to the council, known as the “North Hackney Neighbourhood Forum”, which will include a fifth ward, Brownswood. If the proposals are successful it will allow the Forum’s committee – still awaiting election – to be involved in the development of Woodberry Down estate.

In their application, the North Hackney Neighbourhood Forum states: “[We] are conscious that the on-going redevelopment of the Woodberry Down estate provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to facilitate the building of purpose-built schools, facilities for the care of the elderly, places of worship and purpose-built housing that is suitable for larger families.”

Kelly has hit back at those behind the counter-proposals, telling Eastlondonlines: “We left a space on our membership for [Hackney] Planning Watch; it is still there. We have nothing to hide, no ulterior motives – our purpose it to build and develop the community.”

Jane Holgate, chair of Planning Watch said:  “If this was a genuine, grassroots-led attempt to deal with planning, and had the support and involvement of the people then we would support it.”

You can comment on both the proposals by emailing Hackney Council ldf@hackney.gov.uk

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