Vice-chair of proposed planning forum resigns, amid claims he had not been invited to meetings

Stamford Hill Neighbourhood Forum, with Chair Linda Kelly in the front row, third from the right

Stamford Hill Neighbourhood Forum, with Chair Linda Kelly in the front row, third from the right - Credit: Archant

The future of the Stamford Hill neighbourhood forum may have been called into question after its vice-chair resigned, amid claims he had not been invited to any of its meetings.

Last week the Gazette reported Lib Dem and Tory councillors had been accused by campaign group Hackney Planning Watch (HPW) of trying to take advantage of pressures on planning in the north of the borough for their own political gain.

Using new legislation, current and former councillors want to establish a Stamford Hill Neighbourhood Forum (SHNF), which would include four council wards, Springfield, Cazenove, New River and Lordship, stretching from Green Lanes to the Lea Valley.

But this week the only Lib Dem councillor on the forum, Dawood Akhoon, announced his resignation from the board, claiming the group was not inclusive enough.

“I got nominated as vice chair last summer but since then I haven’t been invited to any meeting, I suspect they have been going on judging by the progression that’s happened,” he said.

“I’ve said I don’t want to be vice chair at the end of the day, particularly as I haven’t been putting input into the stuff that’s going on.

“I want to be part of a forum, the idea of a forum is fundamentally a very good idea, but for whatever reason it hasn’t happened the way I would have envisaged.

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“I don’t think it is inclusive enough, that’s the reason there are understandable complaints.”

SHNF Chair Linda Kelly was surprised at the resignation when contacted by the Gazette.

“This is complete and utter news to us,” she said.

“I know he’s been invited to the meetings and the truth is that he hasn’t turned up.

“As for being inclusive, at the end of the day you are not going to reach every single group that’s living in Hackney, we have tried and we are still trying and we will continue trying to be as inclusive as possible.”

Jane Holgate, chair of Hackney Planning Watch said Cllr Akhoon’s resignation was “a victory for common sense and for people power”.

“This is great news as it shows that the community is being listened to at last,” she said.

“There are real issues that need to be addressed in this part of the borough, but they can only be resolved through respectful dialogue.”

The council’s consultation on the SNHF ends on Monday February 4.

Neighbourhood forums are new statutory bodies created by the coalition government’s Localism Act, giving communities new powers to influence change in their own area.