Eastlondonlines https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk Tue, 01 Dec 2020 17:59:09 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 55397956 Purley pool set to remain shut despite 4,000-strong petition https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/12/purley-pool-set-to-remain-shut-despite-4000-strong-petition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=purley-pool-set-to-remain-shut-despite-4000-strong-petition https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/12/purley-pool-set-to-remain-shut-despite-4000-strong-petition/#respond Tue, 01 Dec 2020 17:59:04 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=191092 Purley Pool and Leisure Centre, closed due to the pandemic, is unlikely to reopen because of Croydons financial crisis, despite a petition signed by more than 4,000 local residents. Labour councillors told a meeting last night that their recent bankruptcy means they have to make difficult decisions to live within their means. This was met by shouts of “Shame” from the opposition. Councillor Oliver Lewis explained that the leisure centres in the borough typically run at either a surplus or a deficit, and this is usually balanced. However, due to the pandemic and the recent bankruptcy, Purley Pool and Leisure

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Residents campaigning against the pool’s closure. Pic: Croydon Conservatives

Purley Pool and Leisure Centre, closed due to the pandemic, is unlikely to reopen because of Croydons financial crisis, despite a petition signed by more than 4,000 local residents.

Labour councillors told a meeting last night that their recent bankruptcy means they have to make difficult decisions to live within their means. This was met by shouts of “Shame” from the opposition.

Councillor Oliver Lewis explained that the leisure centres in the borough typically run at either a surplus or a deficit, and this is usually balanced. However, due to the pandemic and the recent bankruptcy, Purley Pool and Leisure Centre is no longer cost efficient.

Long term financial impact was also considered in the pool’s permanent closure. Councillor Felicity Flynn said: “It’s an old facility that would require considerable investment, and unfortunately this is money that the council doesn’t have.”

The petition was made by affected residents alongside Conservative councillors to prevent the pool’s permanent closure following its shutdown due to Covid-19.

All five of Croydon’s leisure centres had to close during the pandemic, but only Purley Leisure Centre is being considered for permanent closure. Councillor Badsha Quadir said: “Why does the happiness of the people of Purley matter less than those in areas with leisure centres staying open?”

Purley pool first came under threat in 2014, following the election of councillor Tony Newman as Labour leader of the council. Plans were announced to close the pool in 2015, which triggered a petition from affected residents.

Councillor Helen Redfern said: “The Purley [Leisure] Centre is uniquely underfunded, you have had six years to make the investment. Labour may have spent all the money, but you don’t seem to have bothered to seek alternative funding streams until now.”

Around 4,400 people have signed the petition to keep the pool open. It is a vital local resource for school children learning how to swim, and for low impact exercise for the elderly and the disabled.

Backlash from affected residents

Jenny Rofe-Radcliffe, 41, is one of many residents disappointed by the closure. “I was a regular user a couple of years ago and after redundancy earlier this year was looking forward to getting back to it,” she told Eastlondonlines.

“I’ll be gutted if it never re-opens, because as far as I know there’s no other pool that I can get to without spending at least an hour travelling for a swim.”

Other residents on Twitter shared in this disappointment:

Quotes were read out from children from St Aidan’s school by local teacher Colette Luke. “I watched the news and I saw that adults at Croydon council have made bad decisions with money ” said Abigail from year 6. “That’s their fault and its not fair that Purley pool should shut, and all the children should suffer.”

Councillor Helen Redfern, who represents Purley Oaks and Riddlesdown Ward, spoke to ELL following last night’s meeting. “I was really disappointed that the petition was not able to achieve concrete proposals for the future of Purley Pool and Leisure Centre. Councillor Lewis didn’t sound particularly enthusiastic about finding a solution, neither did he sound apologetic for letting down so many residents.”

The leisure centre serves an area that represents around a quarter of Croydon’s population. The closure of the facility means that the nearest pool will now involve a two and a half hour round trip for residents, which Redfern said was a massive deterrent for people keeping fit.

“The Council should be providing fitness opportunities to residents in all parts of the borough, but a quick look at a map shows a whole swathe of the south of Croydon has no access to public facilities. That isn’t right.”

Redfern also highlighted the poor decision making that has led residents to this point. “Croydon Council has found over £200 million to finance Brick by Brick that has failed to provide housing for our residents. If less than 1% of that funding has gone to Purley Pool, it would be in a position to be kept open.”

Brick by Brick continues to be key ammunition against the council and it’s financial situation, as it recently postponed the decision on its future.

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Goodsyard: City Hall backs ‘dinosaur’ development as campaigners rally https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/12/goodsyard-city-hall-backs-dinosaur-development-as-campaigners-rally/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=goodsyard-city-hall-backs-dinosaur-development-as-campaigners-rally https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/12/goodsyard-city-hall-backs-dinosaur-development-as-campaigners-rally/#respond Tue, 01 Dec 2020 12:31:04 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=191044 The Bishopsgate Goodsyard mega-development has been backed by City Hall planners ahead of a final decision by the Mayor of London this week – but campaigners believe the controversial plans can still be stopped. In a report GLA planning officials said the proposal for a large hotel, offices, retail, up to 500 homes, a cultural centre and ‘high line-style’ public park forms a “high-quality redevelopment scheme” that would make a “significant contribution” to Shoreditch. They recommend it is approved. City Hall’s support came as a shock to heritage campaigners and local businesses who have fought the plans. In a ‘People’s

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Sadiq Khan vs. the Goodsyard. Pic: Reclaim the Goodsyard

The Bishopsgate Goodsyard mega-development has been backed by City Hall planners ahead of a final decision by the Mayor of London this week – but campaigners believe the controversial plans can still be stopped.

In a report GLA planning officials said the proposal for a large hotel, offices, retail, up to 500 homes, a cultural centre and ‘high line-style’ public park forms a “high-quality redevelopment scheme” that would make a “significant contribution” to Shoreditch. They recommend it is approved.

City Hall’s support came as a shock to heritage campaigners and local businesses who have fought the plans. In a ‘People’s Hearing’ last night, they called on Mayor Sadiq Khan to scrap the developers’ proposals for the 11-acre site, which straddles Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Residents say the large development will ruin the area’s character and increase its rents.

Khan will make a final decision on the plans at a public hearing this Thursday, after an earlier proposal for the site was taken over by former mayor Boris Johnson in 2015.

That version of the scheme, capped by a massive 46-storey tower, was withdrawn by developers Hammerson and Ballymore a year later. They submitted new, scaled-down plans last year. But both Hackney and Tower Hamlets councils objected to the new scheme last month over heritage, design, and a lack of affordable housing.

The derelict site today. Pic: Clara Murray

The GLA report on the revised plans overturns almost all those objections. It admits that the impact of the bulky towers on neighbours’ daylight would still be “severe”, but said it is outweighed by “the undeveloped nature of the site” and the amount of housing it would provide. The design is “well-considered” and the buildings’ size “responds to the site’s constraints and sensitivities, including heritage assets.”

Planners brushed aside concerns over changing needs post-pandemic: “Speculating on behavioural changes and amended working practices because of Covid-19 cannot amount to a material consideration…at this time.”

Reclaim the Goodsyard campaigner Susanna Kow said in a statement: “We cannot believe the Mayor of London can support a tired old scheme that offers more harm than local benefits. It’s a very poor response to the housing crisis and totally irresponsible in the current economic and environmental climate.”

A spokesperson for the developers said they were “pleased” that the GLA planners supported their proposal, which “will deliver a huge range of opportunities for the local area and London.”

‘A dinosaur development’

Reclaim the Goodsyard invited guests, including architects and climate researchers, to air their concerns at a ‘People’s Hearing’ last night.

For many, the crux of the problem is that developers and City Hall see the site as the ‘City Fringe’ – an extension of the glass-and-steel skyscrapers of the financial district just streets away. But for residents, it’s part of their beloved East End.

The area’s distinctive needs, history and character should be preserved, said Anna Sereno of the 120-year-old E Pellicci café in Bethnal Green: “The community and heart of the East End are already being ripped out and this will be the final nail in the coffin.”

‘An extension of the City’ Pic: The Goodsyard

Francis Northrop of the New Economics Foundation said the Goodsyard proposal, with its chain retail, abundance of offices, and garden-less flats, is no longer relevant post-pandemic. “Things have changed so much it’s like this is from a different era – a dinosaur development.”

Dr Philipp Rode, an LSE urban planning lecturer, agreed that the plans are based on outdated and uncertain assumptions about urban life. “We are in a triple crisis of Covid, social justice and the climate emergency,” he said. “Will this be part of the ‘old way’ of London growth – or could it be a new way? We need more time to find out.”

For others, the Goodsyard raises wider questions about the London planning system. Architect Adam Khan blamed a “laissez-faire” process that encourages developers to “shoot for the moon” without consulting the community.

Owen Hatherley. Pic: Tomislav Medak

Journalist Owen Hatherley said the Goodsyard can be seen as a “test for local democracy.”

He added: “The community has been almost ostentatiously ignored… The enormous scale of this site has been opposed by both boroughs and people on the ground. So how bad does it have to be before you can actually stop it through political processes?”

Will the Mayor approve the plans? The Goodsyard hearing this Thursday will be an almost untested scenario. While GLA planners recommended refusal of the 2015 proposal, this version has won their backing after being significantly revised and scaled down. But, like Tower Hamlets, the GLA is free to overrule its planners’ recommendations. Ultimately, it could come down to the personalities involved. Jules Pipe could be a significant player: he campaigned against the earlier plans as mayor of Hackney, and now sits on City Hall’s planning team. But Khan may be loath to send plans back to the drawing board after a 10-year process. He is no stranger to pushing through plans opposed by local authorities and residents, as seen in the similarly controversial Silvertown Tunnel in Greenwich.

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Lewisham failed to treat air pollution as ‘public health emergency’ inquest told https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/lewisham-failed-to-treat-air-pollution-as-public-health-emergency-inquest-told/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lewisham-failed-to-treat-air-pollution-as-public-health-emergency-inquest-told https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/lewisham-failed-to-treat-air-pollution-as-public-health-emergency-inquest-told/#respond Mon, 30 Nov 2020 21:45:09 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=191007 Lewisham failed to prioritise air pollution and treat it as ‘a public health emergency’, barrister for the family of Ella Roberta Adoo Kissi-Debrahn argued on the first day of an inquest into the death of the nine-year-old. It took the council seven years to conduct the first strategic needs assessment on air pollution, the court heard on Monday. Rickard Hermer QC, representing Ella’s family, called it a “glacial pace”. During the 10-day landmark case a coroner will assess whether air pollution caused or contributed to Ella’s death in February 2013. It has never previously been identified as a cause of

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Ella Roberta Adoo Kissi-Debrah died in February 2013. Pic: The Ella Roberta Family Foundation.

Lewisham failed to prioritise air pollution and treat it as ‘a public health emergency’, barrister for the family of Ella Roberta Adoo Kissi-Debrahn argued on the first day of an inquest into the death of the nine-year-old.

It took the council seven years to conduct the first strategic needs assessment on air pollution, the court heard on Monday. Rickard Hermer QC, representing Ella’s family, called it a “glacial pace”.

During the 10-day landmark case a coroner will assess whether air pollution caused or contributed to Ella’s death in February 2013. It has never previously been identified as a cause of death in the UK.

Philip Barlow, assistant coroner for Inner South London leading the hearing at Southwark Coroner’s Court, said the inquest would examine air pollution as a cause of Ella’s death.

It will also explore how pollution levels were monitored at the time, and assess the steps taken to reduce air pollution and to inform the public about its level, the dangers to ones’ health and ways to reduce exposure.

Nine-year-old Ella died in February 2013, with a fatal asthma attack listed as the cause of death. She lived within 25 meters from the busy South Circular road in Lewisham, a route she also often walked to school. The road had levels of air pollution exceeding the legal limit. She was admitted to the hospital 27 times between 2010 and 2013.
Ella’s mother, Rosamund Kissi-Debrah, campaigned for an inquest. This was granted after a report by Professor Stephan Holgate, one of the UK’s leading experts on asthma and air, found a ‘striking association’ between Ella’s hospital admissions and spikes of nitrogen dioxide and PM10 levels – the most severe polluters. The inquest takes place under Article 2 of the Human Rights Act, the right to life, which scrutinises the role of public bodies, such as local authorities, in a person’s death.

“Glacial pace”

Hermer accused the council of failing to treat air pollution as a priority, despite their knowledge of how dangerous it is to people’s health.

David Edwards, Lewisham’s head of environmental health, told the hearing that the borough struggled with air pollution caused by transient traffic on its major roads as its biggest air polluter.

But Lewisham, as the local authority, had no control over these transient vehicles. “In terms of traffic, we have very limited powers, especially [in the period leading up to Ella’s death].”

Major London roads, such as the South Circular and A21 in Lewisham which are of importance to the inquest, are usually under control of Transport for London.

Responsibility

“All [the council] can do to tackle air pollution is encourage people to use other forms of transport and inform them on the risks it poses on their health,” said Edwards.

Philip Graham, executive director for good growth at Greater London Authority told the hearing: “The borough has limited tools, but so do TfL and the national government. We’re only able to reach air quality targets with all these levels working together. Everyone plays a role. The local borough cannot achieve this by themselves, but they’re certainly not irrelevant.”

Awareness

Edwards confirmed the council has been aware of the dangers of Lewisham’s high levels of air pollution between 2010 and 2013, the years preceding Ella’s death. In 2008, a House of Commons select committee had already expressed concerns on the levels exceeding the permitted limits.

Lewisham introduced Airtext in 2010, a service sending out texts when residents were exposed to high levels of air pollution. They also organised awareness events at schools.

But Hermer told the court that awareness workshops were only given at five schools, a fraction of Lewisham’s 38 primary and 14 secondary schools. He said this did not show that the council was prioritising air pollution as it should have done.

The inquest will continue tomorrow.


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Mayor dedicates award to leading Rabbi who died from virus https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/hackney/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=hackney https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/hackney/#respond Mon, 30 Nov 2020 18:22:24 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=190872 A diversity award to Hackney council for the work done during the pandemic among the borough’s Jewish community has been dedicated to a well known local Rabbi who died from Covid-19 earlier this year. The prize – gold in the Diversity and Inclusion category at this year’s LGComms Public Service Communication Awards – recognises Hackney Council’s work raising awareness of the pandemic among the Charedi Orthodox Jewish community, which is mainly based around Stamford Hill. Mayor Philip Glanville tweeted that he would dedicate the award to Rabbi Pinter, a former local Labour councillor and pillar of the Stamford Hill Charedi community,

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Rabbi Pinter. Pic: Hackney Museum

A diversity award to Hackney council for the work done during the pandemic among the borough’s Jewish community has been dedicated to a well known local Rabbi who died from Covid-19 earlier this year.

The prize – gold in the Diversity and Inclusion category at this year’s LGComms Public Service Communication Awards – recognises Hackney Council’s work raising awareness of the pandemic among the Charedi Orthodox Jewish community, which is mainly based around Stamford Hill.

Mayor Philip Glanville tweeted that he would dedicate the award to Rabbi Pinter, a former local Labour councillor and pillar of the Stamford Hill Charedi community, who died of Covid-19 on April 13:

The Rabbi was well-known for his work improving interfaith relations in the borough as well as his work in education, notably as Principal of Yesodah Hatorah Girls’ School. Rabbi Pinter had been raising awareness of the pandemic by going out to knock on doors in the hard-to-reach community, where many do not use modern technology such as TV and radio.

The award also recognises the council’s work with Interlink, a foundation which connects Orthodox Jewish organisations with the council and other community faith groups.

Organisations working with the council include local Jewish ambulance service Hatzola – who have provided a vital emergency service throughout the first and second wave of the pandemic – and Shomrim, a Jewish volunteer police force providing security for the local community.

Bikur Cholim, which supports members of the community through illness and disability, helped the council raise awareness of the pandemic.  Its helpline provides information and support with Covid-19 and Kosher food boxes for those self-isolating. It also provides information about a centre – at former mother and baby home Beis Brucha – where members of the community can receive specialist care and physiotherapy once they have been discharged from hospital after suffering severe Covid-19.

On Twitter, Mayor Philip Glanville said:

However, some members of the Charedi community  objected to restrictions on weddings and funerals in the second national lockdown. 

These events will be allowed to restart after midnight on Wednesday December 2 when London returns to Tier 2 restrictions, allowing up to 15 people to attend wedding receptions and up to 30 people to attend funeral ceremonies.

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Former Hackney Hawks motorcycle star dies at 67 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/former-hackney-hawks-motorcycle-star-dies-at-67/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=former-hackney-hawks-motorcycle-star-dies-at-67 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/former-hackney-hawks-motorcycle-star-dies-at-67/#respond Mon, 30 Nov 2020 17:34:48 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=190948 Tributes have been paid to a celebrated motorcycle speedway racer who rode for the Hackney Hawks during the sport’s 1970s heyday. Zenon Plech died last Wednesday, aged 67, after long-standing health issues. His funeral on Saturday was attended by hundreds of family, friends, and fans in his native Poland despite lockdown restrictions. Plech won silver and bronze medals at Speedway World Championships in 1973 and 1979. He raced as part of the now-disbanded Hackney Hawks between 1975 and 1981, during the “golden age” of British speedway racing, when the sport was attracting hundreds of thousands of live spectators across the

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Zenon Plech in 1976. Pic: Lawson Speedway

Tributes have been paid to a celebrated motorcycle speedway racer who rode for the Hackney Hawks during the sport’s 1970s heyday.

Zenon Plech died last Wednesday, aged 67, after long-standing health issues. His funeral on Saturday was attended by hundreds of family, friends, and fans in his native Poland despite lockdown restrictions.

Plech won silver and bronze medals at Speedway World Championships in 1973 and 1979. He raced as part of the now-disbanded Hackney Hawks between 1975 and 1981, during the “golden age” of British speedway racing, when the sport was attracting hundreds of thousands of live spectators across the country.

Former teammate, Tony Hurren, paid tribute to Plech on the team’s memorial site: “Zenon was always a crowd favourite at The Wick and was one of those much sought after riders who put bums on seats. When he was due out, it was race on.”

Plech won several national championships in Poland before coming to compete in the British League. “Zenon was at Hackney during the days of the old Eastern bloc, which meant it was not easy to get in and out of Poland and a visa to do so was like gold dust,” Hurren said.

Hackney Hawks disbanded in 1983, two years after Plech’s departure from the team. Their biggest achievement was winning the British League Knockout Cup in 1971.

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Lewisham to require all schools to adopt race equality pledge https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/lewisham-to-require-all-schools-to-adopt-race-equality-pledge/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=lewisham-to-require-all-schools-to-adopt-race-equality-pledge https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/lewisham-to-require-all-schools-to-adopt-race-equality-pledge/#respond Mon, 30 Nov 2020 16:58:06 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=190949 An equality pledge for all Lewisham schools, along with other measures to tackle racial inequality, has been recommended by the council. The move comes after a report showed Black Caribbean students underachieve at key stages. A race equality steering group of headteachers, representatives from teaching school alliances, governors and council members, established in June, is now developing a three-year approach. The plan, presented by the council’s director of children and young people Pinaki Ghoshal at the last Children and Young People Committee meeting will involve all Lewisham schools publicly signing up to the pledge to embed race equality and address

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Pic: Unsplash, Sam Balye @sbk202

An equality pledge for all Lewisham schools, along with other measures to tackle racial inequality, has been recommended by the council. The move comes after a report showed Black Caribbean students underachieve at key stages.

A race equality steering group of headteachers, representatives from teaching school alliances, governors and council members, established in June, is now developing a three-year approach.

The plan, presented by the council’s director of children and young people Pinaki Ghoshal at the last Children and Young People Committee meeting will involve all Lewisham schools publicly signing up to the pledge to embed race equality and address Black Caribbean and BAME underachievement.

Ghoshal said: “Once a school puts up the pledge in their building, they have to do something. It becomes a concrete commitment.”

The pledge – and other recommendations – followed a report which concluded that Black students, particularly Black Caribbean students, were underachieving. It found that primary school children between ages 7 to 11 and secondary school pupils aged 14 to 16 had fallen behind the most.

The report, commissioned by Lewisham Learning – a school-led partnership between local authority and school leaders – included interviews with dozens of parents who expressed their concerns about the lack of Black staff in schools, especially in senior positions. Parents also wanted to see better communication from the school and believe the curriculum currently does not represent the local community.

Ghoshal said: “We want to set up groups for each school to look at opportunities to do things differently and make the curriculum more relevant for the children at their school.”

Monitoring progress

Councillor Caroline Kalu was concerned about the three-year timeline for the recommendations and said: “We have made a point of this for a long time in the committee, and so far nothing is happening. Kids and parents are stressed and teachers need help. How can we, as a committee, get involved and make sure it’s actually happening now?”

The committee members will arrange visits to schools in 2020 to talk directly to them about how they are responding to the 3-year action plan.

Lewisham council and Lewisham Learning plan on actively supporting this work over the next years. A budget of £100,000, funded by the council and schools, has already been set aside for the work.

These plans come amid wider discussions about decolonising the curriculum, with the issue being raised nationally by groups such as The Black Curriculum.

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Deptford landlord to pay £280,000 or face jail after illegally housing residents https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/deptford-landlord-to-pay-280000-or-face-jail-after-illegally-housing-residents/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=deptford-landlord-to-pay-280000-or-face-jail-after-illegally-housing-residents https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/deptford-landlord-to-pay-280000-or-face-jail-after-illegally-housing-residents/#respond Mon, 30 Nov 2020 14:55:18 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=190738 A landlord faces jail if he cannot pay more than £280,000 after he housed eight people in a flat deemed illegal for even one resident in Deptford.  Shafait Ali, 51, from Deptford, had converted offices on Old Kent Road into five flats without any planning permission. A report from Southwark Council deemed the homes were grossly unfit to live in, with no smoke detectors or proper fire escapes, bathrooms with electrical sockets and no ventilation, and no heating in some bedrooms. One flat was 35 square metres in area – as shown in the diagram below – two metres below

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The illegal flat development on Old Kent Road. Pic: Southwark Council

A landlord faces jail if he cannot pay more than £280,000 after he housed eight people in a flat deemed illegal for even one resident in Deptford. 

Shafait Ali, 51, from Deptford, had converted offices on Old Kent Road into five flats without any planning permission.

A report from Southwark Council deemed the homes were grossly unfit to live in, with no smoke detectors or proper fire escapes, bathrooms with electrical sockets and no ventilation, and no heating in some bedrooms.

One flat was 35 square metres in area – as shown in the diagram below – two metres below the minimum of 37 square metres for a one person flat, as set out in national space standards.

However, the flat was not arranged as a one person flat, but had three bedrooms, one with no windows and each bedroom had at least two bunk beds in it. The larger bedroom had two sets of bunk beds meaning that at least eight people were living in a flat too small for one person.

One of the flats which housed eight residents compared to the national space standard. Pic: Caitlin Tilley

Southwark Council successfully prosecuted the landlord at the Inner London Crown Court on November 10, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Ali had pleaded guilty in June 2018 to two offences of failing to comply with a planning enforcement notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The notice required Ali to stop using the property at 719-725 Old Kent Road as three self-contained flats and two non-self-contained flats.

A cramped bedrooms in one of the flats. Pic: Southwark Council

Southwark Council’s Trading Standards team calculated Ali had made £259,475 renting out the flats so he was served with a proceeds of crime confiscation order for that figure. He was also fined and ordered to pay costs totalling £23,400.59. If he does not pay the confiscation order within three months, he will face two and a half years in prison.

Five flats had been constructed on the first and second floors of the building without planning permission in an unauthorised change of use from previous office and light industrial use.

Southwark Council’s planning enforcement team discovered the flats were so poorly built they would never be granted planning permission.

Councillor Johnson Situ, cabinet member for climate emergency, planning & transport said: “We believe that everyone deserves a place that they’re proud to call home, so it’s deeply shocking that families were cramped into properties not even big enough for one or two people. 

“This is a great result and another success for our planning and trading standards teams, whose joint efforts have amounted to nearly £1.5 million in confiscation orders issued to landlords renting out illegally converted properties in Southwark since 2019.” 

“The council remains committed to taking tough action against criminal landlords who would profit from the misery of their tenants by renting illegal and sub-standard properties.”

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Croydon postpones decision on Brick by Brick as top executives are replaced https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/croydon-postpones-decision-on-brick-by-brick-as-top-executives-are-replaced/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=croydon-postpones-decision-on-brick-by-brick-as-top-executives-are-replaced https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/croydon-postpones-decision-on-brick-by-brick-as-top-executives-are-replaced/#respond Mon, 30 Nov 2020 08:34:01 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=190584 Two new executives have moved to take over controversial Croydon Council owned housing company Brick by Brick as the councillors postponed a decision on its future.    Councillors have approved recommendations from a Strategic Review to remove two current directors at BBB and continue construction of the remaining housing builds on contract. The review was submitted to last Wednesday’s meeting by Council leader Hamida Ali and Interim Chief Executive Katherine Kerswell. The two board members, chief executive Colm Lacey and chairman Martyn Evans are to be replaced by new representatives with qualified financial backgrounds: Duncan Whitfield, strategic director of finance and

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Brick by Brick shop location, Croydon. Pic: Fiona Holland

Two new executives have moved to take over controversial Croydon Council owned housing company Brick by Brick as the councillors postponed a decision on its future.   

Councillors have approved recommendations from a Strategic Review to remove two current directors at BBB and continue construction of the remaining housing builds on contract. The review was submitted to last Wednesday’s meeting by Council leader Hamida Ali and Interim Chief Executive Katherine Kerswell.

The two board members, chief executive Colm Lacey and chairman Martyn Evans are to be replaced by new representatives with qualified financial backgrounds: Duncan Whitfield, strategic director of finance and governance of Southwark council and Ian O’Donnell, a financial consultant who is working on the financial review at the Council.

The change in BBB leadership came after an independent report by Price Waterhouse Cooper detailed the failings of the council-run housing company and laid out a set of options going forward to maximize repayment of outstanding loans. 

The PwC report concluded that Croydon’s finances would be even worse if the council liquidated BBB assets or closed the company, stating that continued investment was necessary “before a cash return is generated.” 

Another round of review by PwC, supplied with more detailed accounting and financial information will be commissioned before a final decision can be made on the future of BBB. 

“At this time, we do not believe BBB’s information is robust enough for the Council to make a strategic decision in respect of these options,” the report said. 

According to the PwC analysis, the sale of BBB assets is less likely to recoup some of the £250m of debt owed to the council than allowing the company to see out the remaining housing builds. 

The Strategic Review affirmed the risk posed by shuttering Brick by Brick.

“There are over 20 [housing] schemes currently on site which have existing funding agreements in place, although some of these are past the repayment period. To stop BBB drawing down on those agreements could present cash flow issues with consequences that would further increase the risk to the Council.” 

Brick by Brick is thought to be a major contributing factor in Croydon’s debt crisis and decision to announce a Section 114 notice, the formal proceedings for municipal bankruptcy. Revelations of gross mismanagement at the housing company compounded with years of austerity and unexpected costs from COVID pushed borough finances to the edge. Loans for capital projects and BBB builds totaling over half-a-billion pounds remain largely unpaid.  

Conservative leader Jason Perry slammed the Labour council for not “considering their fiduciary position” when designing the Brick by Brick housing company. 

But the South Croydon councillor accepted the premise of the PwC report and Strategic Review, only demanding assurance that no new housing builds be approved: “I understand some money will need to come forward to finish sites. You do need some sites to be finished to try and resurrect some money from this company, but please assure us that you will not allow any more new sites to start.” 

Read the rest of our coverage here:
Croydon Council declares itself bankrupt in £1.5bn debt crisis
Croydon debt crisis: Council draws up action plan to cut costs
Tories attack shelving of key flood protection projects
Tories accuse Croydon leadership of ‘recklessness’ with public money
Top executives at council housing body ‘to be removed’ down after damning report

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The doctor and green activist: attacked by the alt-right and challenging Labour on its own turf https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/the-doctor-and-green-activist-attacked-by-the-alt-right-and-challenging-labour-on-its-own-turf/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-doctor-and-green-activist-attacked-by-the-alt-right-and-challenging-labour-on-its-own-turf https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/the-doctor-and-green-activist-attacked-by-the-alt-right-and-challenging-labour-on-its-own-turf/#respond Mon, 30 Nov 2020 08:25:57 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=190190 Alex Armitage is often photographed in his scrubs and his image fits the image of a young earnest doctor. But this paediatric physician is also an aspirant politician and a radical climate activist who has even attracted criticism from right-wing site Breitbart.  In his professional role as an NHS pediatric physician, Armitage, who lives in Dalston and has worked for Lewisham and Greenwich Hospital Trust, is currently working at Southampton General Hospital. Describing his path to medicine he told Eastlondonlines: “I always wanted to improve society, alleviate suffering.” Many would be content with the vital job of healing sick children,

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Armitage at an XR rally. Pic: Alex Armitage

Alex Armitage is often photographed in his scrubs and his image fits the image of a young earnest doctor. But this paediatric physician is also an aspirant politician and a radical climate activist who has even attracted criticism from right-wing site Breitbart. 

In his professional role as an NHS pediatric physician, Armitage, who lives in Dalston and has worked for Lewisham and Greenwich Hospital Trust, is currently working at Southampton General Hospital. Describing his path to medicine he told Eastlondonlines: “I always wanted to improve society, alleviate suffering.”

Many would be content with the vital job of healing sick children, but Armitage has other goals. For Armitage, his responsibilities as a doctor extend to an active struggle with climate change.

In March 2019, he featured prominently in a 10-day occupation of Marble Arch with a band of climate activists and has become a core member of Hackney’s Extinction Rebellion group. 

During an interview with Ben Gelblum of the London Economic, Armitage explained why he participated in an XR event with other medical professionals saying: “Climate and ecological breakdown is the biggest threat to public health and the government is failing to take action to protect us. Extinction Rebellion’s non-violent civil disobedience is an evidence-based, public health intervention that works.” 

While non-violent, the vocal call for direct action earned the doctor some critics. Breitbart, the right wing news site, dubbed participants at the Marble Arch action, “Enviro Loons” and Armitage an “insect overlord,” adding: “Here is a doctor so buoyed up with his virtue as a National Health Worker that he simply has no idea that without a functioning economy there’d be no one to pay for his generous salary.”  

Asked about his position on disruptive direct action and the competing priorities of economy and climate, he doesn’t fall neatly into any camp. He is neither balaclava-wearing window smasher of Tory nightmares nor the heedless utopian, naive to the realities of government. 

“Electoral politics can’t deliver transformational change alone, but it’s not fraudulent either. We need to act on every single level, from local direct action to democracy,” Armitage told ELL.

“Community” was a word repeated throughout the interview and it’s helpful for explaining his outlook on political strategy. The diversity of tactics aims to shake a fragmented population out of passivity, mobilise average people, but critically, bring them together in the process. “Human connection is a physiological need…All of the solutions we need can be found in our neighbourhoods, in our communities.”

He argued that “Jet-set holidays, fast fashion, and consumerism,” aren’t just unsustainable, but at a psychological level they’re not actually what people want. Each are “symptoms of an underlying malaise[;] the Thatcherite consensus that we no longer need to live in communities or care for each other.”   

‘Our culture of building is against the people’

Back in Hackney, Armitage is better known for his involvement in local politics and outspoken resistance to gentrification. 

“Capitalist development is high-level corruption. Everything about our culture of building is against the people and for the privatization of our community’s resources,” Armitage said.

To underscore his point, he looked out his window and pointed to a luxury apartment complex erected a few hundred meters away, where, he said, a prominent local Labour politician lived in a penthouse apartment. But, he said, despite his antipathy towards them, he would not say who the person was, because of it might affect their personal security.

Fighting for windows:
Armitage secured considerable media attention last year when a landlord sold off the walls of a 17-unit apartment complex in Kingsland Road to use as a giant iPhone advertisement that subsequently sealed off tenants’ windows. As Eastlondonlines reported at the time, tenants, who claimed they were already being neglected to live in squalor, were left with few options after Hackney Council backed the decision. But pressure brought by Armitage through the Hackney Greens in conjunction with other local advocacy groups managed to get the billboard removed.

Leveraging his local backing, Armitage has been making ambitious attempts at a position in Hackney politics, in an otherwise Labour stronghold. In the 2018 local council elections, he ran for the Hackney Greens to unseat Labour councillor Peter Snell, narrowly losing in a recount by a margin of 21 votes.

A year ago in the General Election, he made a less competitive stab at Diane Abbott’s impregnable Labour seat in Hackney North and Stoke Newington, winning just under 5,000 votes to come in third place, but above the Liberal Democrat candidate.

Armitage concluded the interview reminiscing on the virtues of 20th-century British council estates like the one he lives in: utilitarian, modest, tight-nit, and increasingly imperiled by the boom in private development. 

Though Armitage and his wife, also a doctor are “lucky to make enough money to feel secure,” they chose to live in a Dalston estate rather than, as many do, a Victorian terrace. That would be missing something, Armitage felt: community. 

“Though we come from different social, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, the environmental architecture of our housing estate facilitates the development of a strong community, which mitigates our individual vulnerabilities and provides for many of our needs.” 

Armitage added: “We also have a community hall, football pitch and play equipment for children. There are no cars, so parents can let their children out to play knowing that the environment is safe. Because our children play together, so we as adults get to know each other.” 

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Award winning jazz prodigy pays tribute to parents and Hackney school https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/award-winning-jazz-prodigy-pay-tribute-to-parents-and-hackney-school/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=award-winning-jazz-prodigy-pay-tribute-to-parents-and-hackney-school https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2020/11/award-winning-jazz-prodigy-pay-tribute-to-parents-and-hackney-school/#respond Mon, 30 Nov 2020 04:07:00 +0000 https://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/?p=190079 Award winning Hackney piano prodigy Deschanel Gordon has paid tribute to his school and parents for inspiring his unusual blend of jazz and reggae. In an interview with Eastlondonlines he said: “I found jazz on my own, but because my parents are Jamaican, reggae was part of my upbringing. We were listening to it all the time. So it didn’t feel unnatural to fuse them together.” Gordon, 22, was speaking to Eastlondonlines after winning the BBC Young Jazz Musician Award. Judge and film composer Orphy Robinson said it “felt like the sun came out” when Gordon played his 15-minute set, as part

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Deschanel Gordon performs at BBC Young Jazz Musician Final 2020. Pic: Doug Peters/PA Wire

Award winning Hackney piano prodigy Deschanel Gordon has paid tribute to his school and parents for inspiring his unusual blend of jazz and reggae.

In an interview with Eastlondonlines he said: “I found jazz on my own, but because my parents are Jamaican, reggae was part of my upbringing. We were listening to it all the time. So it didn’t feel unnatural to fuse them together.”

Gordon, 22, was speaking to Eastlondonlines after winning the BBC Young Jazz Musician Award. Judge and film composer Orphy Robinson said it “felt like the sun came out” when Gordon played his 15-minute set, as part of the BBC4 Young Musician series.

Gordon, who studied at Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, told Eastlondonlines he has been “overwhelmed” with attention since his win was announced. He said: “I rewatched [the award ceremony] and I don’t look happy at all, but I was shocked.”   

The five finalists were selected after two gruelling rounds of auditions. In the final they performed alongside one of the UK’s leading jazz trios, choosing pieces from the standard jazz repertoire as well a new composition. 

Gordon accepts his award. Pic: Doug Peters/PA Media

Gordon said his original piece, Waiting, which combines jazz with elements of reggae, was inspired by Jamaican jazz pianist Monty Alexander, as well as his music-obsessed family. 

While he started out playing classical piano in church as a child, he first discovered jazz aged 10 through a documentary about jazz legend Oscar Peterson. “I didn’t know who he was, but I found the music so enchanting,” Gordon told ELL. “Later on, I found out it was jazz he was playing. From then on I was on YouTube all day looking at videos.” 

Mossbourne’s “really supportive” music department pushed him to play with the Hackney Creative Jazz Ensemble and the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy in Haggerston as a teenager. He graduated from Trinity Laban conservatoire in Greenwich with a first-class degree this year. 

And despite his young age, Gordon has already been making waves on the London jazz scene. Before lockdown, he regularly performed with his own trio at clubs across the city – including Ronnie Scott’s in Soho – and in Europe. Mercury Prize-nominated SEED ensemble and Mark Kavuma’s The Banger Factory have tapped him for collaborations. 

Performing during lockdown. Clip: 606 Club

Gordon is keen to work on composing more music – but is looking forward to performing again. Although he has played on a few livestreams during the pandemic, it does not measure up to a live gig.  

“I miss the transference of energy between jazz band and the audience,” he said. “Jazz is an improvisational genre, so any slight shift of mood in the room can affect how you play.” 

Gordon has no plans to stop any time soon, he added: “It was always gonna be music. Once I started learning I couldn’t see any other way.”

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