Grill Phil: Hackney Mayor holds his hands up to shortcomings in first ever Question Time
- Credit: Hackney Council
Phil Glanville put himself in the firing line for the first ever Hackney Mayor’s Question Time on Monday night, giving residents the opportunity to “grill Phil” – and admitted on several occasions the council had “got it completely wrong”.
About 80 people, including political activists and campaigners, turned up to the Town Hall in Mare Street – although dozens more had registered to attend and didn’t bother showing up.
Journalist and blogger Dave Hill chaired the event, telling the audience he wanted to encourage patience and politeness.
“All of the issues we talk about are very important and people feel very passionately and rightly so, but we want to get more light than heat,” he said.
Six submitted questions were on topics covering affordable housing, fire safety, crime, anti-social behaviour, parking, proposed cuts to council tax relief, Winterville and the Britannia Leisure Centre redevelopment.
A few times Phil held his hands up and said the council could have done better – from sending out letters to leaseholders demanding £30,000 on the Parkside Estate to dealing with anti-social behaviour at a hostel in Wilberforce Road.
“We took over a hostel and we got it completely wrong,” he said. “We were too slow to react, but we have moved people on from that hostel and installed CCTV and a security guard, and we have learned a lot.”
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Jackie Myers, who has been living in a damp flat on the Woodberry Down Estate for two years leading her and her disabled children to suffer health problems, told him: “You promised to have it sorted before you were elected.”
“I know and I’ve failed,” he admitted.
“The real challenge is around contracting and complex repairs. We need the contractors to be in house and not profit motivated. To change the way the industry works takes time.”
Phil said the idea to hold a question time emerged when he ran for election last year.
“One of the key things for me was opening up the town hall and new forms of engagement,” he said.
“Tonight is only a part of that effort, and it will be the only one before the election next year so we can see how it works as a format and whether residents enjoy it.
“It’s about opening up that dialogue and access to me, and to make sure residents feel their voices are heard.”