Questions to Hackney Mayor Candidates

In January 2013 the campaign to re-open Haggerston Pool was boosted when 500 people visited a stall in Broadway market and signed up to join the campaign.   Following a public meeting with the council, many local people offered their skills and support, but making the necessary agreements has proved very slow.

Save Haggerston Pool campaign then set out to have the pool listed as an Asset of Community Value, which would increase our influence over how the building is used, and enable us to raise some funds for a feasibility plan.  We received overwhelming support on our petition, which you can still sign, to support the application

With the election coming up, we asked each of the Hackney Mayor candidates if they would support the pool becoming an Asset of Community Value and if they would help us renew the business plan.

Here are their replies…

 

1. Will you support Save Haggerston Pool’s work to register Haggerston Pool as an Asset of Community Value?

Mischa Borris (Green Party)

I visited the Pool when I stood as the Green Party Mayoral candidate in 2010 and
saw what a sad state it was in then.  At that time, if I am remember correctly, there seemed some cause for optimism that the  pool would be refurbished and it is shocking that there has been no progress.  So I do support the campaign to register the Pool as an ACV.  Whilst that is not a solution in itself, it would help to give the Pool some protection and hopefully strengthen applications for funding.

Jules Pipe (Labour Party)

The short answer is yes, absolutely, we are already.

As members of the Trust should be aware, I arranged for the Cabinet Member for Health and Community Services and senior officers from the Council to meet with Andrea Cooper from the Trust to discuss the process for registering the building as an asset of community value. It is important to note that the process for registering an asset is one prescribed by the Government and it is important that any application is properly prepared and submitted to the Council. However, under this administration Hackney Council has been a pioneer in testing this legislation, notably the recent success regarding protecting The Chesham Arms public house. At the meeting with Andrea, officers agreed to support the Trust in making an application that can be considered by officers for registering. Feedback on the draft application is being given to enable it to be submitted for formal determination.

That said, registering an Asset of Community Value is used to create a short period in which a public group could purchase an asset that is put up for sale. The problem with Haggerston Pool is not that it is about to be put up for sale, which it is not, rather that any owner is faced with finding in excess of £25million to invest in refurbishment, redevelopment of the west wing, and restoration of the pool and hall.

Linda Kelly (Conservative Party)

If in this current climate, finance will not be forthcoming from the Council coffers, we have the expertise of our officers, connections in the community, with funding organisations and  businesses to work together with the Community, in Haggerston and beyond, to develop a business plan.  I will promise you this, if I am working so hard my constituents to save the School Room, I will support you.

Mustafa Korel (Putting Hackney First)

Yes. I would however go even further and become a friend of Save Haggerston Pool , like the way the incumbent is a member of CAMRA.

Throughout my campaign I have said that I will create and order a comprehensive list of community assets – Haggerston Pool would be one of those assets, given the support from the community.

Simon de Deney (Liberal Democrats)

I will certainly support your work to register Haggerston Pool as an Asset of Community Value. I’ve just signed the online petition on change.org. I have swum all my life; I currently swim regularly at London Fields Lido. I also belong to the Outdoor Swimming Society.

 

Question 2: What support will you give Save Haggerston Pool to develop a renewed business plan?

Mischa Borris (Green Party)

 I cannot be specific at this time on what support I could give the Pool to develop a renewed business plan, but if I am elected would certainly welcome a meeting after the election to explore this.  I am keen on exploring possible European Union funding for projects in Hackney so that could be worth investigating.

Jules Pipe (Labour Party)

Firstly it should be noted that the Council has been committed to giving every chance for a viable proposal to be brought forward over the past decade – including proposals for being part of Bridge Academy; plans by Shoreditch Trust; and more recently the proposal for a Healthy Living Centre. The Council has also had to invest significant sums into ensuring a sufficient degree of security, wind and weather tightness to prevent deterioration of the building. This should be viewed in the context of diminishing public resources which would have prompted many authorities to dispose of the site for redevelopment many years ago.

As the Trust is aware, any restoration/redevelopment of the site that retains a pool would cost in excess of £25million. The Council’s most senior finance and property officers are already engaged in the issue and with the Trust, and would be willing to support any viable proposal including the development of the business plan. However, any such proposal must first address the feasibility of any proposal securing and servicing the £25million capital requirement of such a project.

 

Linda Kelly (Conservative Party)

You may know I worked with residents to try and save the Tram Depot in my Ward Leabridge from developers, represented them in the planning committee we were not successful, but needed to make a stand.

I am Chair of the Clapton Arts Trust and we are in the process of trying to save the School Room on the Leabridge Road, we were unsuccessful in our first Heritage Lottery Bid, by a whisper, however, we are intending to put a new bid in and, are trying to hold off the developer from turning it into offices.

So I understand what you are all going through, I know one thing if I have the honour of serving the residents of Hackney, the preservation of Heritage is one of my main priorities. I have seen too many of our Heritage building destroyed in my Ward and in Hackney, I will ensure as far as possible all our Heritage buildings are locally listed.

To your first question looking at this beautiful building I promise I will do whatever I can to have it registered as Asset of Community Value, I am sure we will find people to work with us, as it is our legacy for generations to come, I will not be afraid of lobbying and using my office ​to save this building.

Mustafa Korel (Putting Hackney First)

Under my Mayorship,  the Council will see a culture change from outdated corporate values to that of social objectives. I have made a clear promise in my Mayor’s Priority 2: Long term solutions that I will work alongside campaigners looking for solutions and instilling a can -
do attitude to what could be of real value in breathing life back in to Haggerston.

Save Haggerton Pool will lead on the renewed business plan, along with the new Grants and Income Diversification Officer Hackney will recruit – we will look at creative ways in funding this
project. One that springs to mind is the Sustainable Communities Act and which the Council recently used for a separate project.

Should you become a constituted body, we will set up a contract/service level agreement so that you can apply for further funding and sponsorship for building works, and formally taking the lease of the building.

I also have an affinity with Haggerston Baths. This is where I went swimming when I was at Princess May Primary school. It is unacceptable that a building that has been listed as one of the most endangered buildings in the country.

There is seemingly no political will to get the baths back in to use and this briefing answers your questions and demonstrates my commitment to re-opening the pool within my term.

Simon de Deney (Liberal Democrats)

Whatever the outcome of elections, we will offer you every support that we can, not just in terms of developing a renewed business plan. From what we understand of all the work you’ve done so far, it seems that you are well organised and clear-sighted in this campaign.
One thing that is probably worth mentioning is that we are promoting the introduction of local community councils in Hackney. These give local communities considerable powers, not just in terms of things like protecting Assets of Community Value, but  across the whole range of areas.