Hackney mayor quizzed on cyber attack, LTNs and Israel defence company investments

Hackney mayor Phil Glanville

Hackney mayor Phil Glanville - Credit: Emma Bartholomew

Residents grilled Hackney’s mayor on Wednesday, about low-traffic neighbourhoods  (LTN), last year’s cyber attack and pension fund investments in companies connected with defence companies active in Israel.

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville took questions from residents on May 26 at the borough's third Mayor’s Question Time, chaired by former Hackney Gazette editor Ramzy Alwakeel.

During the discussion, Mayor Glanville reassured resident Graham Woodruff over concerns about his personal data being in the “hands of criminals” responsible for a cyber attack on council systems last year.

The mayor said the attack has had a “huge impact” on the local authority: “We are now nine to 10 months into that attack and it is fair to say it takes a long time to rebuild those systems.”

He said the council managed to protect all its back up systems, especially cloud-based services, but that some data was stolen and put onto the dark web at the start of this year.

After going through the data published on the dark web – a hidden collection of internet sites accessible through a specialised web browser – the council contacted people who’s data may have likely been compromised.

He said anyone who had not been contact has likely not had their data stolen. 

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Hackney's mayor described a range of data being taken, including some community safety data, estate maps and jpeg files.

He added that “all the evidence” suggests residents financial records, such as tax payments, were not stolen or published.

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A serious cyber attack has affected council services since October last year. - Credit: Archant

The attack, which occurred in October 2021, is still affecting council services. The Town Hall has reserved about £2m in its budget to build its online services back up. The council has previously said some systems would have needed to be upgraded anyway.

The issue of LTNs dominated the discussion, with several residents asking questions about the green schemes meant to reduce traffic and congestion on Hackney's roads, while encouraging walking and cycling. 

Olu Adesanu noted that the issue “has engaged many residents like never before”.

He said: “We have all seen a massive increase in motor vehicles during the day on the most busy and important arterial roads in the borough and they have never been like this in the past."

Olu called LTNs a “living nightmare” and said “they aren’t working”, to which the mayor replied: “The answer to all of these questions is reducing car use – we must reduce car use.”

Mayor Glanville said the council “believes LTNs are part of the solution” but added: “In terms of the structure, the final decision, the consultation results, I am not going to pre-judge all that."

The mayor said the council is investing in monitoring data collection and it would be working on ways to make cycling more inclusive for disabled people and parents.

He also said it was important to “accommodate disabled people” dependent on cars and essential journeys.

Resident Sussan Rassouli asked a question about Hackney’s pension committee and investments in firms like Raytheon, Elbit and Caterpillar, which are suppliers in Israel.

The mayor said the pensions committee does not directly invest in the companies mentioned but that it invested in funds which then sub-invested in the corporations.

He said notions of ethics were being "rigorously debated" by the committee but ultimately the fund's decisions must be based on its fiduciary duty to pensioners, future pensioners and staff at Hackney council.

The mayor added: “We have a large Jewish and a large Muslim community that I know are really politically active in this space, and we care deeply about the lost lives in the occupied territories and in Israel itself.”

"I have had emails highlighting that loss of life on both sides and I think the images [from the recent conflict] have been really tragic and really awful.

"I hope that this is the last time we will be seeing images like that."

To watch the event which was streamed live on May 26, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=E65xigANswI

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