Hackney Film Club And The World Food Market
Further to my last post, the meeting I mentioned went ahead as scheduled and we now have new dates for the public film screening, as well as for the market. Starting with the market, this will run from Wednesday 20th to Saturday 23rd May, with opening times of Wednesday to Friday 10am to 3pm, and Saturday from 10am to 6pm. The film screening will also be on Saturday 23rd May, running from 9pm until 11pm, with some of the food stalls from the World Food Market remaining in the square to become part of the film screening event. The PA system that will be used for the film screening has been specially calibrated for use in the square, and the council have assured us that they are confident that volume levels will be well-managed, despite the late finishing time of the movie. Fingers crossed the weather plays ball.
Dalston’s Heritage Buildings
Further to the recent meeting of Councillor Peter Snell’s Dalston Ward Forum on March 25th, Peter has organised 2 further meetings to look specifically at the issue of Dalston’s conservation area. Full details of the meetings can be found posted at our discussion forum HERE.
Bicycle Stores Fob Resetting
As you should of all seen (after notices were posted to every mailbox in the development), after the recent resetting of all fobs for building entrance doors, a similar process will not run to reset all bicycle storage area fobs. All fob access to bicycle stores will be disabled on Friday 15 May at midday. If you require access to a bicycle store from that date onwards, please note the name or number of the store you wish to use, and take your fob to the concierge desk where you will be asked to sign a disclaimer form and your fob can be re-programmed for that particular one. PLEASE DO NOT ASK FOR YOUR FOB TO BE RE-PROGRAMMED PRIOR TO FRIDAY 15 MAY. Please also note that the bicycle store in Sledge Tower closest to Dalston Junction station (No. 7), will no longer be available after Friday 15 May as it is being removed to create a proper thoroughfare. If this is the one you currently use, please choose an alternative. If you have any queries prior to this operation, please do not hesitate to contact Development Manager Gerald Bernard (his contact details can be found in the right hand column of the DSRA website homepage.
Please be advised that the public screening of a film in Dalston Square this evening, to celebrate the launch of the Hackney Film Club’s ‘Turkey East Asia Season’, has been postponed. Weather forecasters have warned of the chance of high winds and rain for this evening so the performance has been provisionally rescheduled for May 23rd. That date coincides with the World Food Market’s wish to be in the square so avenues need to be explored to determine if both events can run concurrently. To that end there is a meeting within the council this coming week, and I should be able to get back to you all with an update soon thereafter.
Further to my last post I have two updates to share with you all.
Dalston Square Culture and Community Engagement Forum
Dalston Square World Food Market
I now have more concrete dates for the proposed market: Monday 18th to Saturday 23rd May, with trading from 11am to 3pm Monday to Friday and 11am to 6pm on the Saturday. You will notice that this is somewhat longer than the originally proposed 3 day market, but with such short hours it seems unlikely to cause any problems to residents (other than the problem of deciding what yumminess to partake of of course). If anyone has concerns, please leave them in the comments section immediately below this post (if you are reading this via email, simply hit ‘Reply’) and I will share them with the relevant person at Hackney Council. All comments need to be in by the close of business this Friday please.
Smooth You Residents’ Discount
Now firmly established and in their second year of trading here in the square since their move from Islington, Smooth You have been in touch with a great offer for all Dalston Square residents: A 10% discount on all of their services and treatments until further notice. With experienced staff and the newest equipment (though no expert when it comes to beauty related equipment, the manager invited me for a quick tour and I was amazed at the quality and class of their facilities), more than just hairdressing they offer just about every service and treatment there is to help you look and feel your best. Check out their website or pop in to discover the full extent of what they have on offer. Click the first of the thumbnails below to see the poster they have produced to advertise this residents’ only deal.
Dalston Ward Forum Report
Further to my previous post regarding the Dalston Ward Forum meeting, DS resident Kim attended and has written a report on the topics discussed. With some 30 attendees it seems conversation was lively and informed. Apparently notes were taken and minutes will be produced and sent out when complete, but in the meantime Kim’s report can be found over at our discussion forum HERE. A big thanks to Kim for taking the time to write this up for us. I will share the official minutes with everyone when and if I can lay my hands on a copy.
Dalston Square Culture and Community Engagement Forum
Back on April 1st, representing the DSRA I attended a meeting of Hackney Council’s ‘Dalston Square Culture and Community Engagement Forum’. At the meeting we were presented with 3 proposals Hackney Council have received to stage public events in Dalston Square. All 3 proposals were welcomed by all those present, although some clarification was needed on the details of a ‘World Food Market’, offering an artisan market in conjunction with a hot food court, to be run over the course of a 3 day weekend in May. Proposed by Lambeth Smith Hampton (the company that owns and manages the commercial properties in the square) and organised by Epicurean Events Ltd., it is hoped the food festival will be both of interest to the local community and an attraction to people from other areas of London. If successful, this could become a regular (monthly?) event. I will keep you all abreast of developments of this proposal. The second, confirmed, proposal is a project entitled ‘Super Dads’, set to run during the first 4 Saturdays in August (the 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd) from 2pm to 4pm. Run by Universal Board Games, the events will be open to all families living in Hackney, and are aimed at encouraging families to enjoy time playing games together while boosting literacy and numeracy in a fun, low-cost manner. Although aimed at promoting the relationship between fathers and their children, all members of the family are invited and welcome to participate. As well as traditional favourites such as chess, backgammon, and dominoes, less well known games, such as Mancala from Ghana, Crokinole from Canada, Go from Japan, Carrom from India, as well as many more games from around the world, will be available to reflect the cultural diversity of the area. The third and final proposal will be launch event of…….
Hackney Film Club – Turkey East Asia Season
Scheduled for Saturday 2nd May, from 8pm to 10.30pm, organised by Hackney Council itself (a library initiative), there will be a public film screening in the square. This will be a screening of the film ‘Bana Masal Anlatma‘ (‘Don’t Tell Me Tales’), a Turkish film with English subtitles, rated 12A (this movie receives an impressive score of 8.2/10 on IMDb.com). This launch will be followed by further screenings of films from Turkey and East Asia inside the C.L.R. James Library on the first Thursday of each month. There will also be further film screenings at both the Rio Cinema and the Hackney Playhouse. Details of all film screenings will be publicised in the C.L.R. James Library. Below you can see their event posters in English (the 2nd thumbnail), Turkish (the 3rd) and Kurdish (the 4th).
Just a short post to advertise the next Dalston Ward Forum, which gives all local residents the opportunity to engage with their (your) elected councillors Peter Snell and Soraya Adejare. The next meeting of the forum is to be held on Wednesday March 25th from 7pm until 9pm at Arcola’s Studio 5, just 50m from the main Arcola entrance (yes that is tomorrow, apologies for the short notice). Full details of the forum and the meeting agenda can be found on Hackney Council’s website HERE. Peter, in particular, has shown a keen interest in Dalston Square and the work of the DSRA (he has attended a number of meetings with us), and has worked on our behalf to help us engage with the local council to address a number of issues we feel need attention around the square (the restaurant ventilation issue in phase 1, the dead trees in the square, and maintenance of the podium area between Thomas and Sledge Towers, to mention just a few). Since his election last spring, Peter has an impressive 100% meeting attendance record in his role within Hackney Council, which is surely a good sign of his commitment to the ward.
Hello neighbours, 3 quick items of news to pass on.
Sledge Tower Lobby Odours
Further to my last post, Barratt’s investigations in to the cause of the odours in Sledge Tower have finally proved successful. A waste pipe hidden behind a lobby wall was found to be leaking and has now been repaired. After a good clean-up of the residual spillage, I have seen for myself that finally the lobby is odour free. There is still some making good to do the the wall but this will be completed soon.
Phases 1 & 3 Parking Spaces
Due to a technical error in Consort’s systems there has been an overcharging to phase 3 space owners and an undercharging to phase 1 space owners in the 2015/16 budget. For further details please see THIS thread over at our discussion forum.
Upcoming Temporary Gym Closure
With the phase 1 redecoration now well under way, the gym is coming close to receiving it’s fresh lick of paint. In order for this work to be undertaken the gym will be closed for 2 days next week, namely Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th March.
As promised, the second part of the news update.
Phase 1 Re-decoration
As Collins Tower residents will be aware, the 5 yearly redecoration of all communal areas of the residential blocks of Phase 1 has started. As per the maintenance schedules, all shared corridors get a fresh lick of paint every 5 years to keep the place looking clean and fresh. The contractors will be working on one block at a time, working south from Collins down to Labyrinth.
Phase 3 Lobby Odours
An earlier problem thought rectified has reared it’s ugly head again, hitting Sledge Tower the hardest. The new work on the podium area of the square at the top of the steps between Thomas and Sledge Towers is in connection with this (as was the complete re-waterproofing that was undertaken up there a few months ago). Barratt are also doing internal investigations with cameras in the walls etc.. The problem is locating the source of the odours: I have walked the full length of the sub-basement myself (which runs beneath phases 2 and 3) and although there is some water ingress down there (a problem in it’s own right that is also being investigated), there are no odours whatsoever. Not even damp or musty: Nothing. Likewise the bases of the elevator shafts: Clean and odour free. Just to stress that this is a Barratt issue and not a Consort one. On-site Consort Manager Gerald Bernard may know what has happened so far (mostly), but may not know all the details of what Barratt plan to do to resolve the problem, or is in any way ‘responsible’ for the issue and it’s resolution, so mis-directed pressure on him will not get you very far. If you have questions regarding the issue or how Barratt plan to address it, you will need to speek to Barratt customer service (number in right hand column of our website homepage).
Parking on Rhodes Estate
As any driver will tell you, parking anywhere around Dalston Square is tricky: There are some metered spots but not many. Until recently, some visitors making just short stops here have chanced their arm and parked in and around the Rhodes Estate: Our neighbours to the east, across Beechwood Road. A word to the wise: The residents of the estate have had enough of this illegal parking and engaged a clamping/towing company to monitor the estate. If you or your friends have parked there in the past, don’t try it again. You have been warned.
Represent Hackney on the Climate Change Demonstration
With support from Hackney Energy, Hackney Local Government Unison Branch, and Hackney Trades Union Council, Sustainable Hackney are calling on all residents of Hackney to join them, dressed in yellow, on the Climate Change March this coming Saturday 7th March. See their website HERE for details, or check out the poster below (click the thumbnail to see a larger version).
It has been a while since the last post but the DSRA has not been idle: quite the opposite! The issue is finding the time to not only attend meetings, but also to write reports, combine them with other info we think relevant, and then get it all out to you in a legible(ish) fashion. So happy new year everyone, and on with the backlog of news (sorry)!
DSRA Finance Committee
Uppermost in many lease-holder’s minds at this time of year is Consort’s budget for the coming financial year: This is the cost of managing the site which is paid for through twice-yearly bills to all Dalston Square lease-holders. Building on the excellent relationship the DSRA has already established with Consort since their management and accountant changes this time last year, we have been in regular meetings with them over the last few months as Consort, in the name of transparency, explained budget items as they were added into the process. That budget has now been set and Consort will be sending out bills shortly with an explanation letter attached. In the meantime, this brief report from Jane Collins (who along with David Eastwood has put in many hours on behalf of the DSRA poring over spreadsheets and questioning Consort’s accountant on budgetary line items: I am sure all lease-holders will join me in saying a big thanks to you both):
The budget for 2015/16 is now agreed and invoices for the new financial year will be sent out by Consort over the coming days. There is an overall increase in the budget of 3.8%. The increases result from staff salary increases to bring site staff closer to the London Living Wage, and the need to increase reserves in some phases owing to redecoration costs. Some savings were achieved on individual budget items including window cleaning, door entry and plant and machinery contracts.
There is an increase in the management fee for all units, from £233 to £238 in the new financial year. This is lower than the increase originally proposed by Consort, following representations by DSRA.
There is very considerable variation in the Service Charge increases per unit, with most increases between 2.8% and 10%. The most significant differences are between phases, bringing the newer phases into line with the cost per square metre of phase 1.
If leaseholders have specific questions regarding their invoice they should contact site Manager Gerald Bernard (email@example.com) in the first instance, or Charlotte Perrott (firstname.lastname@example.org)
DSRA Buildings & Maintenance Committee
We also recently held our regular quarterly meeting with Consort to discuss all buildings and maintenance issues, and were pleased to have representatives of Barratt Homes and Hackney Council able to accept our invitations to attend. With the co-operation of the other parties the DSRA maintains 3 separate logs: One each for Consort, Barratt, and the Council. Over the past year all 3 logs have been shrinking steadily in size as line items have been addressed and removed from the active log, and this last quarter was no exception. The updated copies of the 3 logs along with a written report from DSRA Chair Ben Collins are all available for download from the ‘Document Depository’ in the ‘Residents Only’ section of our discussions forum HERE. If that link does not work for you, you need to read THIS thread. After reading that, register for forum membership HERE (a simple 2 minute process), then make an application HERE (again very straight-forward, just follow the other examples).
It has been said before but I will say it again: Any/all residents are welcome to attend any meeting (although space dictates numbers at some point of course). Please just let us know beforehand so we can bring you up to speed on what has been previously discussed, to save wasting valuable meeting time on repeating previous discussions. Buildings & Maintenance meetings generally start around midday (but as early as 11.00am) midweek, and can go on for a couple of hours or more. Finance meetings tend to start at 6pm, again midweek, and can go on for an hour and a half or more.
I have a few other brief items of news but will save them for a second post: These meetings are the more important updates I feel, but I do not want this post to get too long.
To be continued…..
Proposed Rhodes Estate Outdoor Gym
We have been contacted by our local councillor, Peter Snell, to see if we can help our neighbours in the Rhodes Estate (the estate to our East on the other side of Beechwood Road) with a project that will also be to our benefit. Working with The Great Outdoor Gym Company, the Rhodes Estate Tenants & Residents’ Association is aiming to procure and install outdoor gym equipment of a type that is becoming popular throughout London. They believe that beyond the obvious health benefits, the equipment will also strengthen community ties (the equipment will be available to locals beyond the bounds of Rhodes Estate), thus also boosting security and making the area a safer place to live in. Knowing of our own residents’ gym, and believing it was staffed with fitness professionals, we have been asked if we could give input to ensure the range of equipment they install will offer a balanced exercise routine. Lacking those on-site professionals my question is this: Do we have any fitness professionals in residence in the square who could help, or do any of those who bring personal trainers to the gym with them believe their trainer would be willing to offer some advice? If yes, please contact me at DalstonSquareRA@gmail.com and I will put you/them in touch with the Rhodes Estate team.
Circle Housing 2015 Service Charges
While it is still a mystery how they can produce them before receiving costings from the development management company (Consort), it seems Circle Housing have started issuing service charge bills to their tenants for next year. Unfortunately it seems that there have been some errors in their calculations and some residents have received bills that are greatly in excess of what they should be (over 50% higher in at least one case we have heard of). If you have received your bill and you believe it to be higher than it should be, please contact Circle Housing and ask them to check the figures: Do not contact Consort as they will not be able to help you.
Who Is Responsible For What, In & Around Dalston Square
It seems there is still some confusion regarding who is responsible for what, in and around the square. To help alleviate this confusion I have made a post over at our discussions forum that will hopefully clear this up once and for all: It can be found HERE.
One Last Thing
Upcoming Christmas Events
With the current light-box exhibition from Daily Life Ltd. due to finish next week (December 16th), there is just one more event planned for the square this year: Make a note of the date Saturday December 20th, 4.30pm to 6pm. Organised by Age UK East London, there will be carol singing, mince pies, and mulled wine (tea and coffee will also be available). Choirs from across Hackney will be singing festive carols hoping you will sing along. All monies raised through sales of refreshments (and of course the collection buckets that will be present) will go to help Age UK East London continue their as-necessary-as-ever work throughout the region, and spread the Christmas cheer to those less fortunate than us. Please show your support and pop down if you are able to.
And speaking of events and charity, the Eastern Curve Garden are running a whole host of events in the run-up to Christmas. To get in to the festive spirit and support them in their fabulous work of maintaining this delightful little oasis, check out their list of upcoming events HERE.
Building Security: Tail-gating
This is a subject that has been broached before, but it seems it needs to be re-iterated. After this week’s break-in to the Consort staffroom in Thomas Tower (and subsequent theft of staff personal belongings), and the ejection of non-residents from Collins Tower, it is clear that many people are still not getting the message that tailgating is a problem throughout the square that puts us all at risk. If someone tries to follow you in to your building (or tries to enter whilst you are exiting) ask to see their fob before allowing them entry. It is all very well being polite and holding the door open for people, but it is simply asking for trouble. Although these events are rare, apartments have been robbed, and stairwells have been used for drug taking and dealing. How long before we have a mugging or somebody gets hurt? And all of this is so easily avoided: Stop the tail-gaters. And if you find someone holding the door for you, thank that person for their politeness but also enlighten them to their thoughtlessness: They are putting you and all the other residents of your building at risk. NO FOB – NO ENTRY! It could not be simpler. Just to state the obvious, do not put yourself in danger during any confrontation: If you are threatened in any way, or even feel threatened, get yourself out of the situation and report the incident immediately to the concierge service either in person or by telephone on 02072547341 and they will investigate further.
As many will be aware, there was a bit of a panic a couple of weeks ago when news came through from Hackney Council that Barratt had withdrawn their planning application for the proposed ventilation system to cure the restaurant smoke and odour problem plaguing phase 1 buildings (Gaumont through Labyrinth). After many emails and phone calls, including the help of local councillor Peter Snell, it has been determined that this was an error on the council’s part who accidentally deleted the application. This has though now been reinstated, and we are hoping for a decision soon: Preferably a positive one. More news as soon as we have it.
To continue the tradition of advertising Dalston Square businesses and the businesses of Dalston Square residents, here is a quick plug for Labyrinth Tower resident Patricia. Patricia is starting new sessions of her family oriented yoga classes early next year, which will be held in the Young Hackney building in Forest Road. Patricia is an experienced yoga teacher, working primarily with newcomers and children, she hopes to attract your whole family to her new sessions: All ages, and all experience levels are welcome. To enrol for these new classes, check out her website HERE. If you are interested, and a Dalston Square resident yourself, take the flyer you will find in your letterbox during the coming week to your first session for a special (and very neighbourly) ‘Residents Only’ discount of 40% on that session (£6 instead of £10). The new sessions start on January 10th 2015, and will continue every Saturday from 11.15am to 12.15pm: What better way could there be to energise your weekend!
Not much needed with regard explanation I believe, but just to say that, continuing the tradition of trying to bring Dalston Square’s residents together, the DSRA is pleased to announce it’s Winter/Christmas social event. Check out the poster below (give the thumbnail a click), and soon on your block’s noticeboard. A chance to meet a neighbour or 3, and meet some of the folk that attend meetings as representatives of the DSRA (pursuing causes in the name of all residents). Meeting in the wood-burning-stove heated greenhouse of the Eastern Curve Garden on Dalston Lane, we offer you a chance to meet and say ‘Hi’ to a few of the faces (residents/neighbours ) often seen here in the square. The Garden’s cafe serves tea, coffee, herbal drinks, beer, cider, wine, and their own fresh lemonade and sodas. Thy also sell some food items but Marie from the garden management team has said it is fine to bring along our own snacks and treats, just please use the bar for drinks. There is a chance (no promises here) that freshly made pizza will be available too, but do not rely on it.
See you there?
Consort will soon begin the process of wiping the database of the development-wide fob entry system. All residents/fob holders will receive notification direct from Consort to your post-box to advise of the days your building is being reset thus requiring you to visit the concierge to have your fob re-programmed. The reset renders your fob useless until you pay that visit to the concierge where you will need to present your fob PLUS the forms you also received in your post-box, properly completed. The process will begin with Collins Tower next Monday & Tuesday, then make it’s way around the square. Check your post-box regularly for your block’s dates: You should get approximately one week’s notice. A little bit of a nuisance I know, but it should be a quick and painless procedure (completed by the end of the month) and will help tighten security for us all.
Service Charge Bills
By now, all Dalston Square property owners should have received their supplementary charges bills for the financial years 2012/13 and 2013/14 (if you do not yet have yours it should be with you very soon). These charges, fully explained in Consort’s letter I think, vary widely depending on which block you own in and which year you look at (2012/13 sees rebates in excess of £500.00 for some phase 3 residents while some phase 1 residents saw bills in excess of £500.00, and in 2013/14 we see bills, some quite substantial, across the development). This though should be the last time we see supplementary charges like this: After years of campaigning and meetings between the DSRA and Consort, with the DSRA demanding transparency in Consort’s accounting and budgeting processes, the 2013/14 budget was set with the DSRA’s full approval. For the first time our finance committee (a small group of owner-residents who just happen to be professionals in the fields of accountancy and finance) were presented with full development accounts and budget plans, and were able to make sense of them (what has been passed to us as accounts in the past were anything but). Going forward, these newly established practices should ensure that unexpected items and shortfalls are kept to a minimum, and all future service charge rises can be fully explained and justified. It has taken 3 development managers, umpteen area managers, and several different accountants from Consort to give us the financial reports and transparency we have been demanding, but finally during the past 6 months or so, since the appointment of new development manager Gerald Bernard and Senior Property Manager Helen Goldstone (Gerald’s line-manager), we have finally been dealing with people who have not just listened to our concerns, they have acted on them and delivered results where their predecessors continually failed. (See HERE my post from March regarding the 2014/15 budget)
Dalston Futures Meeting & News
A reminder that Dalston Futures’ community organising master-class is tomorrow night at the Trinity Centre, and to pass on THIS LINK to catch up on their latest news.
The Dalston Square Playground
After a number of recent queries regarding the status of the playground I have been in touch with Dalston Town Centre Manager Cory Defoe for an update. There has been some delay in getting confirmation that the pieces residents voted for are suitable for the constraints of the site, and a quote for their supply and installation (apologies from the supplier), but Cory is on the case and will keep us informed of progress.
Those of you who follow local politics may be interested to know that our 2 elected ward councillors (Peter Snell & Soraya Adejare of the Labour party were the winners of last May’s local elections), are holding their September Forum in the Eastern Curve Garden greenhouse this coming Monday (29th September). Planned to run from 6.30pm to 8.30pm this Forum is local residents’ chance to hear what is happening, and to hold the council to account. The agenda for this meeting will cover i) Work in progress on pre-election pledges ii) An update on other major developments in Dalston iii) The Dalston Conservations Area (members of the Conservation Area Advisory Committee will report on progress, their concerns, and how you can support their work to protect historic buildings in central Dalston). Forum meetings are open to all members of the public. The 2 pages of Hackney Matters, a publication produced by Peter Snell, can be found at the foot of this posting: Simply click on each thumbnail for the full-size image.
Speaking of historic buildings and the Eastern Curve Garden, how fabulous is the newly renovated Hackney Peace Carnival Mural? To celebrate the completion of the work and removal of the scaffold the Eastern Curve Garden are holding a free party this coming Sunday (28th September) from 2pm to 10pm. There will be music from local musicians, talks with the mural artists, a children’s art workshop, and food from the People’s Kitchen. The thumbnails below include their party advertising poster plus my own photo of the beautifully renovated mural.
And whilst on the subject of art, look out for the new window graphics that will be going up at Smooth You (the beauty and health spa here in the square) later today. The existing advertising graphics have not been loved by Dalston Square residents and were never meant to be long-term: They were only ever a brash, eye catching advertising statement to promote a new business. Smooth You founder/owner Patrick and Managing Director Katie were looking for something that both better represented the company image and gave something to the community so, working with Dalston Square resident and graphic designer & artist Stephen Humphries (who has recently started his own business so if you are in need of such services….), and illustrator Christina K., they have created a bespoke piece of art to ‘tell a story’. Katie tells me the plan is to renew the graphic each year to keep it ‘fresh’ so if you like what they are doing, why not pop your head in the door when passing and let them know what you think.
Free Ticket Draw Result
Thanks to everyone who sent in their ‘Yes Please’ email to claim the 2 tickets for tomorrow’s ‘Brunch With The Guide’ event (and, of course, again to Judith for sharing them in the first place). The lucky winner was Dalston Square resident Louise (Louise, please check your email). For fellow geeks who may be interested, I used an online, range definable, RNG to select the recipient. Unlike many such generators that use pseudo-random number algorithms, THESE guys use atmospheric noise to create randomness: Very cool.
Keeping Your Doors Locked
Back in June of 2012, after a series of burglaries here in the square, I made a post to explain the system used by the thieves and remind residents to keep their apartment doors locked at all times. After what appears to be a gang operating in the exact same manner struck Sledge Tower last week, it seems it is time for a reminder. The initial problem is one I commented on in my last post: Residents who continue to allow people to tail-gate them through building entrance doors (if someone tries to follow you into your block, ask to see their fob: No fob, no entry). Once inside the building, the burglars take the elevator to the top floor, then start making their way back down again trying every apartment door as they go. When they find one unlocked, they walk in, bold as brass as if they own the place. If someone is home they apologise profusely, explaining they must of got off on the wrong floor and leave again. If no-one is home, they quickly scan for and take small, portable valuables (laptops, tablets, and phones are particularly vulnerable). In one instance 2 years ago, one resident came out of the bathroom to find they had been burgled.
So please neighbours, keep your apartment door(s) locked at all times, whether you are home or not, and keep yourself and your possessions safe. One last comment on the subject, and a response to the resident that once said to me that they did not understand why they had to lock themselves in. You are not locked in, you are free to leave any time you like: You are locking everyone else out.
Littering From Balconies
Again this is an issue that we have covered before, and again it seems a reminder is necessary. Please do not throw litter from your balcony. Mostly it seems the issue is (though not limited to) people who, rather than use an ashtray when smoking on their balconies, simply flick their ash, and eventually their cigarette butt, over the rail (or out of the window in the case of phase 1 winter gardens). Please just spare a thought for your neighbours below who have to a) keep an eye skyward for falling debris, and b) clean up your mess. Disgusting behaviour: Really disgusting.
Dalston Futures & The Eastern Curve Garden
As many of you will be aware, the latest threat to the popular Eastern Curve Garden has receded since plans for the redevelopment of Kingsland Shopping Centre have been withdrawn. But that does not mean it is safe from future plans. In an attempt to make it harder for developers for get their hands on this beautiful, community treasure, Dalston Futures are attempting to get the garden registered as an ‘asset of community value’. If successful, it would give the community a ‘community right to bid’: Should the owner wish to dispose of the land, the community must be given an opportunity to raise money to secure the land before it is sold. It does not of itself guarantee that the site will be saved and retained, but it does create an additional opportunity for the community to prevent unwanted development, and create a disincentive to developers. For more info on the campaign and how to be involved, plus their other upcoming projects, click HERE.
Two Free Tickets To Give Away
Thanks to Dalston Square resident Judith, I am in possession of 2 tickets to ‘Saturday brunch with The Guide’ (details of the event can be found HERE) this coming Saturday (Sept. 27th) at Rotorino on Kingsland Road here in Dalston (event runs from 10.30am until 1,30pm). Having purchased the tickets (an £80 value for the 2) Judith and her partner find they are now unable to attend so, rather than leave the tickets unused, they would like to give them away: Very generous I am sure you will all agree. Here then is what I will do: If you are a Dalston resident and are interested in receiving them, send an email to DalstonSquareRA@gmail.com with the heading ‘Yes Please’ and your postcode and name (just your christian name is fine) as the message. On Thursday afternoon I will select one at random and contact you for your full address so I can deliver them to you (I will only deliver them to the Dalston postcode contained in your email – collection or alternate addresses will not be allowed). This is the fairest way I can think of doing it to ensure they go to a Dalston neighbour. Good luck everyone.
Just a quick post to say your Dalston Square resident only special offer from Mussel Men can now be found in your post-box. If you decide to take it up (and I highly recommend you do), do not forget to take the card with you: You will not get the deal without it.
One last thing before I sign off: In the process of posting these cards into everyone’s post boxes, I tail-gated into 4 blocks within the square, and encountered residents in 4 further lobbies. Not a single person questioned me as to what I was doing. For your own security, as well as that of your neighbours, please question apparent post-box spammers, and ensure those attempting to tail-gate you in have an entry fob of their own. If they do not have one, ask them to leave: If they refuse, report the issue to the concierge. Foyer entrance doors are the front line of your security.
Further to my last post, I have received a statement from Consort’s on-site Development Manager Gerald Bernard, following last Fridays meeting between representatives of London Fire Brigade, Consort, Fire Design Solutions, and Nancy’s Pantry:
The cause of the fire was discussed with Nancy’s Pantry alone.
The main points of discussion centred around compartmentalisation, smoke, and operation of the smoke extract systems. The LFB inspectors were happy that there were no breaches to the firestopping, even commenting that where they would normally expect to find a couple of unfinished areas, but that ours are all finished to an above average standard. They noted the gaps around extractor ducting installed by Nancy’s pantry, as having contributed to the smoke which entered the service corridor, but believed the majority of the smoke in the service corridor entered via the rear fire escape door, which had been opened (it was thought this may have been opened by fire fighters, or Nancy’s Pantry staff).
No breaches were found that could have allowed smoke into the residential areas, and very little evidence of smoke was found in these areas, only small sooty deposits around a couple of doors and over some wall mounted lights on the lower floors of Raddon. LFB concluded that smoke in these areas must have entered via the doors as people made their way outside, and was possibly related to their own smoke extract systems, though it was unclear how and where these had been operated.
Some smoke from the service corridor had been drawn into the gym, thought to be via its own ventilation system. Which set off fire alarms in the gym, a log of which was recorded on the fire alarm panel behind the Concierge desk. It was concluded that the smoke extract systems in Raddon had operated in the correct manner, but that clearer information on their operation was needed for the future, as fire fighters at the time were unclear as to how to operate it, or whether it was operating.
It was decided that Fire Design Solutions would produce a clear and concise operation manual to be held by the Concierge, and that basic instructions will be produced to be displayed in the lobbies of each building.
All very reassuring I think you will agree. The only thing to add to this statement is regarding the question of how smoke managed to percolate through to other areas of the phase 1 complex. To attempt to solve this riddle, smoke testing will be conducted within Nancy’s Pantry to attempt to replicate a fire situation while observers monitor the movement and spread of smoke. This will be conducted as soon as possible before builders move in to repair the fire damage.
It was only after publishing my last post I realised it was the 100th post on this website since it went live back in November 2011 (on average one post every 10 days). Nearly 3 years later we now have over 750 registered followers (this includes followers of our Twitter account which is directly linked to the website), who have contributed over 120 comments to those 100 posts. We have also had our share of spam comments: To date we have attracted 23,712 spam links that have been added to our website! Fortunately the spam filter caught 99% of them leaving me to catch just a couple of hundred. Bearing in mind that registered followers receive direct emails and so have no need to visit the site, we still attract an average of approximately 600 visitors per month who make over 1000 page views between them. Total page views so far over the life of the website: Over 32,700. And here is the most amazing statistic: Thanks to inquisitive minds and the widespread use of search engines, the website has been visited by residents of 109 countries: Over half of the world total! Who knew Dalston was of such global interest. 😉
Until now the only businesses I have publicised on this website are those resident here in the square. However, my partner Christine (who runs the DSRA Twitter account) and I were recently dining out at Mussel Men, on Kingsland Road in Dalston (a 2 minute walk from the square) when we got chatting with Robin, owner/operator of the business. Conversation came around to the opening deals the businesses here in the square gave to residents, and Robin has decided he would like to do something for us also. Cards are in the process of being printed, but keep an eye on your postbox for an upcoming 2 for 1 special exclusively for Dalston Square residents. If you love mussels (or indeed oysters), you are in for a treat.
Tomorrow sees the launch of Hackney Circle, a free to join, innovative new membership scheme for Hackney residents aged 60 and over. Members will be able to take advantage of weekly special offers and events in the cafes, shops, and services around Dalston Square. All Hackney residents over 60 are invited to become free members of Hackney Circle. Members will receive regular information about events and special offers in the pipeline. Contact Lucy McMenemy for further details on 020 8356 2919 or email Lucy at email@example.com. Hackney Circle has been commissioned by Hackney Council and has been devised by The Decorators, a collective of designers. The launch runs from 3pm to 5pm here in the square (including the C.L.R. James Library).
As I am sure everyone is by now aware, fire gutted Nancy’s Pantry, the children orientated restaurant here in the square, early this past Tuesday morning. The fire started at around 7.30am and was attended by 6 fire tenders and 35 firemen and officers from Shoreditch, Homerton, Stoke Newington, and Islington fire stations. A dozen residents from immediately above the restaurant were evacuated as a precaution, but the fire was contained within the restaurant and fully extinguished by 9.30am. The fire, it seems, was caused by an electrical fault, possibly with a refrigerator or the socket it was plugged into: The fire brigade are investigating and will no doubt report back soon.
In the wake of the fire there have been 3 very important questions asked which I would like to address here:
Why did audible alarms not sound throughout Labyrinth Tower when the fire detectors were triggered? The answer is very simple: There are none (despite the fact that the fire warning instruction signs posted within each block are based on what to do on hearing alarms). There are of course smoke detectors with audible alarms in each and every apartment, but in public areas the smoke detectors have no alarm attached, and for a very good reason: In the event of fire, you are supposed to stay put in your apartment (unless a) the fire is in your apartment, or b) you are instructed to evacuate by fire and/or safety officials). If there were audible alarms throughout the building, people would attempt evacuation without knowing where the fire is, potentially heading in the direction of the fire. If you are unaware of the drill in the event of a fire anywhere in the square, the official fire policy document for Dalston Square is available for download at our discussions forum HERE: Please do read it if you have not already done so.
How did smoke manage to infiltrate the stairwell of Raddon Tower next door? As yet we have no answer as to how the smoke managed to cross from one block to it’s neighbour (something that certainly should not be possible), but this is being investigated and will hopefully be rectified soon: The DSRA will follow this issue over the coming weeks.
Why did the AOV (Automatic Opening Vent) system fail to clear the smoke from Raddon Tower’s stairwell? There was simply insufficient smoke for it to make it from the stairwell into any of the corridors where the smoke detectors would have triggered the system. For those not familiar with this system, check your hallway and you will see a panel somewhere in the wall labelled ‘Smoke Shaft Door’. In the event of the smoke detectors being triggered, these ‘doors’ open to reveal a large vent system. At the same time, powerful fans on the roof of the block kick in to push huge quantities of fresh air down through the stairwell, strong enough to push open the fire doors leading from the stairwell into each and every floor’s corridors, and thereby forcing any smoke in those corridors out into the vent system: Very clever. Remember that it is estimated that at least half (and by some estimates as many as 80%) of all fire deaths are due to the inhalation of smoke rather than burning.
Phase 1 kitchen ventilation
Finally our persistence in pursuing Barratt with regard an extraction system for the kitchens of the restaurants in phase 1 (the eastern side of the square) has borne fruit. Barratt have now submitted plans to Hackney Council to retro-fit a proper, above roof-line, extraction system. Currently all these restaurants simply pump their smoke and fumes into the rear service tunnel (that runs from Gaumont Tower through to Labyrinth Tower) from where it is finding it’s way into lobbies, and up into the residential parts of each block. As is usual with this king of planning application (a visual change to Gaumont Tower as the ducting will be fitted to the outside of the rear of the block), the council is giving the general public the opportunity to comment on the proposal. Residents of Gaumont Tower have received direct communication from the council regarding this, but for other phase 1 residents who have supported our campaign, not received this letter, but who would like the opportunity to comment on the application, the process can be done online HERE. All comments must be in by 26th September so get your comments in soon. For Phase 2 residents who are concerned that they will experience a similar problem when the Japanese restaurant in Thomas Tower opens for business, worry not: You already have a proper extraction system in place.
With there being the possibility of a meeting between DSRA reps and Barratt Homes senior management later in the week (Thursday), we were wondering if there are issues we need to raise with them (beyond the ones we are working on and have been mentioned or discussed either here or on our discussions forum)? We are not talking about maintenance issues (Consort’s responsibility), or anything regarding the public square (down to the council) but rather issues with the construction or structure of the blocks themselves. If there are problems you have reported to Barratt but which have not been properly addressed, please let us know asap. We are also always on the lookout for any resident who is interested in being part of the DSRA Buildings & Maintenance sub-committee. If you are interested, and able to attend occasional day-time meetings in the square (usually quarterly) please do get in touch.
Voting has now closed on the selection of the replacement playground equipment and the top 3 choices were the Balance Blocks (20 votes), See-saw (20 votes), and Wobble dish (10 votes). The full voting list can be find in the last post of THIS forum thread, which has now been passed on to Cory Defoe at Hackney Council.
….. But not a series of over 55s events held in the playground obviously. 😉
Firstly a quick reminder to those who wish to have a say in the selection of the replacement playground equipment who have not yet cast their vote. Voting will close at midnight Sunday night so have your say now (see my last post for full details or head over to my forum post HERE).
Secondly, are you over 55 and interested in taking part in a street-theatre piece that will be presented here in the Square in a few weeks time? Or do you know someone living locally that may be interested? You would need to be available from the 13th to the 16th August in order to participate (from 10am to 1.30pm the first 3 mornings for rehearsals at Forest Road Youth Centre, with the actual show on the 16th at 1pm here in the Square). Click on the first of the thumbnail pictures below for full details.
Next, a copy of the summer programme of the free events being held here in the square throughout July and August (starting tomorrow). You should of received a copy of this in your letterbox but here is a copy just in case. Click the 2nd thumbnail below to view it.
Lastly, a list of events for children and young people being put on by the library (and not just our own CLR James Library: All Hackney libraries are getting involved). Again these are all free: All your kids need to do is turn up. Click the 3rd and last of the thumbnail images below to see the list.
I have today received, from Cory Defoe (Dalston Town Centre Manager), images of 7 potential replacements for the 3 pieces that were recently removed from the square’s play area. Cory, as previously promised, would like to hear the opinions of residents as to which 3 pieces we feel would be the most suitable replacements. To see the choices head over to our forum and the thread I have created for this very purpose HERE. It would be most helpful if you could leave your selections and opinions at the forum (so they are all in one place), but if you do not have the time to register, a very simple 2 minute procedure (although anyone can read the threads, registration is required to reply to them), feel free to go ahead and leave your response here on the website (if you are reading this as an email simply reply to the email, or, if you are reading this on the website itself, click the ‘Comments’ link immediately below this post). Cory is looking to get things rolling asap so please get your opinion up as soon as you can: If Cory gets no responses, he will have to go ahead and make the decision himself. Just one thing to bear in mind: What we are looking for is equipment that appeals to young kids, but NOT to late-night revellers (who may decide to detour via the square on the weekends after turning out of the clubs for some late-night amusements at the expense of our sleep), so take that in to consideration when making your choice.
For many months now Ben Collins, DSRA Chair, has been working on the issue of phase I restaurant odours working their way up in to the residential areas of most of the phase I blocks. He has attended multiple meetings with Barratt Homes, Consort Property Management, and various different departments of Hackney Council, as well as writing umpteen emails and making many phone calls. Progress is slow, but there is progress and Ben has written us a report on just how things are going. Before that though, a little background: The problem, for those unaware of the whats and whys, is that it was not originally envisaged that all of the commercial units would become eating establishments and so no proper kitchen extraction system was put in place during construction. The system that has been retro-fitted is therefore totally unsuitable for purpose: Rather than an extraction system that vents odours above roof level (the correct way of doing it), all of the restaurants simply pump their kitchen odours in to the communal service tunnel that runs the full length of phase I. From there those odours are finding their way in to lobbies, lift shafts, up to even the highest floors, and when wind conditions are just right, in to people’s apartments. Clearly this is not acceptable, hence Ben’s work to find a solution.
Here then is Ben’s report:
The Dalston Square Residents’ Association is aware of the frustratingly slow progress on reducing the restaurant kitchen odours that pervade our buildings and flats. We are chasing Barratt Homes to install proper extraction units in the building. The DSRA will continue to take this issue seriously and is in constant touch with our councillors and Hackney Council Pollution Unit.
The good news is that Ms Jackson, officer at Hackney Council’s Pollution Unit is taking this matter seriously, and has been pursuing both Barratt Homes and the Council’s planning department (who need to agree whatever alterations to extractions systems are needed) to resolve the issue. We are told that Barratt Homes are due to submit plans for an improved extraction unit to the council’s planning department in the near future.
The Pollution Department has received many emails of complaint from residents. These emails have helped that department impress upon Barratt Homesthat there is serious concern and the matter must be addressed.
The bad news is that ‘patience’ is the name of the game. The wheels of both Barratt’s engineers and the Council’s planning department work slowly. We could be looking at months rather than weeks to see any action on this issue. However the DSRA and the Council’s Pollution Unit are on the case and will keep you updated on progress over the coming weeks and months.
Of course this does not mean that a resolution on odours is guaranteed. Pressure from residents will ensure the matter is kept alive (and the more residents the better), and you are encouraged to continue to report any high levels of restaurant kitchen odours that cause you concern, to Barratt Homes customer service department (online complaint form/020 8522 5500), as well as the council’s Pollution Unit (firstname.lastname@example.org/020 8356 4455).
That’s that then: We will keep you posted on progress via this website.
While I have your attention, just a couple of reminders on upcoming events. Firstly, the Crossrail2 public consultation meetings are next week (see the post over at our forum HERE for more details). It is in every Dalston resident’s interest to try to win the route over Hackney Central so your support is greatly needed. Secondly, this coming Saturday (July 12th) sees the next public event in the square. ‘A Hackney Motley’ is an event that kick-starts what the council are calling ‘Hackney Archive Residency’. If you have an interest in local history this is a must. More info can be found HERE. Lastly, while the council lays on these public events completely free of charge, they have put out a call for volunteers to assist in prepping the Square for them when needed (erecting the purpose made tent/canopy, a 3 man job, for instance). My previous call for volunteers resulted in not one single volunteer. Come on neighbours, surely we can do better than that! Contact me at email@example.com if you can spare an occasional half hour on a Saturday, and I will pass your details on to the council as possibly being able to help (no-one is expected to be available every time). Thanks in advance.
This past Wednesday saw the latest meeting of Hackney Council’s ‘Dalston Square Culture & Community Engagement Forum’. And very interesting it was too: We learnt that there will be plenty happening this year, now that the square is finished, including a public event every weekend from early July through to the end of August. The council’s website will soon be updated to give full details of all of these events but until then here are a few teasers for you (do not take this list and it’s dates as gospel: Always check the council website beforehand to confirm the event is going ahead):
- June 22nd (the first event) – 12 noon until 5pm – Tulin Dance School Annual Picnic & Students’ End Of Year Performances. A stage and p.a. system will be installed for the performances. Other activities throughout the day including bouncy castle, clown show, outdoor games, face painting, and arts & crafts.
- Every Saturday from and including 12 July to and including 2nd August – The Square of Stoies. A series of story-based events, for children and adults alike, that celebrate the presence of the new Dalston CLR James Library. All events are scheduled to take place under the pop-up tent with a capacity of 70 people (with room outside for plenty more of course)
- July, to be decided – The previously advertised public opening and launch of Dalston Square.
- August 9th & 23rd – Visits from the Hackney Playbus, a double decker bus that has been converted into a fully self-contained play facility for the under fives.
- August 16th – Watching The World Go By by Mimbre. Mimbre, a hackney based charity supported by the Arts Council England, have created a nuanced, breathtaking, and highly skilled acrobatic theatre production using circus and dance innovatively as a physical language to illuminate human connections. The production will feature 8-12 year olds from Mimbre’s children’s workshops, along with a, still to be found, group of 50+ year old local residents. This older group will need to participate in a group of 3 workshops running each of 3 days prior to the big event, to learn and practice the routine. If you are local, over 50, and interested in taking part, contact Lina (of Mimbre) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- October 6th to November 28th – The Expert View (a light-box exhibition). This is a stunning all-weather installation of 10 illuminated light-boxes displaying an exhibition of ‘Diary Drawing’ artworks by artist Bobby Baker, alongside selected work produced by others in response. The presentation was created by Daily Life Ltd., an arts and mental health charity, again funded by the Arts Council England, who aim to investigate and celebrate daily life and it’s limitations, promoting the abilities of people who have experienced mental distress in some form.
One last thing to say on this subject is that a call has been put out for volunteers to help get the square ready for these public events (like erecting the pop-up tent for example). If you live in the square or the surrounding area and can lend a little muscle on the occasional weekend during the summer, please do let me know by email at DalstonSquareRA@gmail.com. All I need is your name and a means of contact (an email address and phone number would be ideal) and I will compile a list to send on to Lucy McMenemy at the council. Thanks in advance if you can help out.
Before I finish up this post, two quick mentions for posts over at our discussions forum. The first is regarding fire safety within the Dalston Square development (also relevant to residents of other purpose-built blocks of flats) and what to do in the event of fire, which can be found HERE. The other is concerning the route of the proposed rail link Crossrail 2. After last year’s public consultations the route has changed: It will now pass through EITHER Dalston Square OR Hackney Central, not both. For full details of the proposals, access to TFl’s online survey, and details of the next round of public consultations, visit THIS thread.