Readers' Letters

Penny for your thoughts

PUBLISHED: 14:07 10 May 2007 | UPDATED: 08:53 21 July 2010

Your front-page headline, Spent Penny (April 26) appears to be a misnomer. Should it have been A misspent Penny ? Penny Thompson arrived in Hackney less than three years ago..

Your front-page headline, "Spent Penny" (April 26) appears to be a misnomer. Should it have been "A misspent Penny"?

Penny Thompson arrived in Hackney less than three years ago and at a stroke she decided to undo all the years of hard work the African-Caribbean community had invested in ensuring that it is represented in local government initiatives.

Her paper, A Fresh Start, was to form the basis of a new way of working that was at odds with grass-roots representation. She removed the only two elected Africans serving on the then Hackney Strategic Partnership and replaced them with her cronies and other council bureaucrats to form the basis of what is now known as Team Hackney, an almost all-white committee who are somehow supposed to represent multi-ethnic Hackney.

You will be forgiven for thinking that you are in Chelmsford or Harrogate when you intrude into a Team Hackney meeting at Hackney Town Hall.

Today grass-roots African-Caribbean arts organisations in Hackney have no voice and little or no funding. Funding criteria is increasingly being tightened by Team Hackney to ensure we are ineligible.

Cynics will claim perhaps to ensure that the borough still remains deprived after 2012 to ensure that a case is made for more funds to be pumped into Hackney by central government. In 1993, it was Hackney 2000. By the mid-1990s, it was Transforming Hackney with its Purple Pages, leading to a new gimmick, Hackney 2020.

The council, having declared itself bankrupt at the turn of the century, embarked on asset-stripping and playing the opposite of Robin Hood.

Today the Ocean Music Venue stands as a monument of failure. Where is the fresh dtart taking us to when its chief architect has been elbowed aside by the puppet master? A friend of mine commented: "I wouldn't shed any tears for her because they are like football managers. She will turn up some where else with a bigger package."

In Hackney, it appears that the only certainty is uncertainty, but there again so is life. I wish Penny Thompson the "best of luck" when she starts afresh somewhere else.

Emmanuel Amevor, Director,

Centerprise Trust Ltd,

Kingsland High Street, Dalston.

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