Government minister Baroness Warsi visited Hackney yesterday (Wednesday 20 July) at the invitation of Cllr Linda Kelly to listen to the concerns of the borough’s Jewish communities.
Sayeeda Warsi is Minister without portfolio and ‘co-chairman’ (as she is called) of the Conservative Party. She was accompanied to Stamford Hill by her Parliamentary Private Secretary, Eric Ollerenshaw MP, former leader of the Conservative group on Hackney Council.
Her visit took in the Jewish Care Brenner Community Centre on Stamford Hill, the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, and the Lubavitch School. She also met with children from Simon Marks School.
The purpose of the visit was to ‘listen and learn’, and Warsi heard about many aspects of life in Stamford Hill. These included the constructive relations between different ethnic groups, which she commended as “a great beacon and a great example of how communities can live together.”
She listened with interest to details of the various community projects undertaken by members of the Jewish communities, including the Shomrim or ‘guardians’ who seek to prevent crime, a voluntary ambulance service, and the health services delivered at the Brenner Community Centre.
Warsi took copious notes on the issues raised, including the place of traditional religious practices in English law and the shortage of suitable housing for large families in the Stamford Hill area.
Concerns were also voiced about the slow pace with which the Conservatives are moving forward on their manifesto commitment to introduce Community Land Trusts.