Reopening of the beautifully restored Town Hall

From left: Mayor Philip Glanville, ex-Mayor Jules Pipe, and Speaker Soraya Adejare unveil Town Hall plaque. Photograph: Hackney Speaker Twitter

Hackney Council held a secret £6,000 catered bash to celebrate a multi-million pound revamp of the Town Hall and to thank former mayor Jules Pipe for his “contribution to Hackney”.

No media outlets were invited to or told about the Town Hall event held on Wednesday 13 June, and there are no official photographs, as the council said it wanted to save costs and because “it wasn’t a media event”.

Among the 250 attendees was former Hackney councillor Sophie Linden, now Sadiq Khan’s Deputy London Mayor of Policing at City Hall, where she works alongside ex-Mayor Pipe, who is Khan’s Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills.

Hackney Council said invitees covered local businesses, partners from the police and health, stakeholders from the cultural and voluntary sector, London council leaders, and “others who have contributed to Hackney’s journey over the past 15 years”.

Jules Pipe was elected executive mayor of Hackney 15 years ago, in 2002. Last year he stepped down and Cllr Phillip Glanville was elected mayor in September. Both current and former mayors attended to unveil a plaque, and gave speeches using a hired sound system.

The invitees list, seen by the Citizen, includes three delegates from the German Embassy’s culture and education department, four delegates from Austin, Texas, which is twinned with Hackney, and architects Waugh Thistleton, Hawkins Brown and Britannia Redevelopment.

The council told the Citizen the event cost £6,254 for catering and sound equipment and was paid for using extra income from location filming and venue hire in the last financial year. A spokesperson called it a “test event” ahead of hiring out the new spaces in the Town Hall.

The spokesperson estimates £1,000 was spend on audio-visual equipment, and the remaining £5,000 was split half and half between beer and wine and a “light buffet” of meat, fish, and vegetable skewers, plus a kosher option for orthodox Jewish guests. They said catering was roughly £20 per head.

In his speech to the event – saved in a council document titled “philspeechjulesdo” – Mayor Glanville paid tribute to his predecessor Jules Pipe, saying: “Hackney couldn’t have better champions at City Hall than you and Sophie [Linden], and I know that although you’re now delivering for our capital city as whole, you’ll never stop looking out for Hackney.”

Mayor Glanville went on to praise Pipe’s work as an unpaid consultant on the Town Hall refurbishment, joking about Pipe’s “obsessive” attention to detail. He also said appointing Pipe to that role was Glanville’s first act as Hackney’s Deputy Mayor.

Great to see the refurbished Town Hall reopened. Fantastic work. Even the birds seem to like it.

A post shared by Nick Perry (@realnickperry) on

Mayor Glanville said: “Thank you also for the care and attention to detail you put into leading the refurbishment of this building – and for taking a continued interest since you left last year, popping back in as an unpaid consultant to oversee the finishing touches.

“Indeed I think appointing you, I say that advisably, to that role was my first act as Deputy Mayor last year.

“Although we may have teased you about your intense – some might say obsessive – interest in the paint colours, radiator pipes, and door fittings, the results of that love for the building and its heritage are clear for us all to see tonight.”

Council leader invitees included: Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales, Lewisham Mayor Sir Steve Bullock, Islington Council Leader Richard Watts, Haringey Council Leader Claire Kober, Greenwich Council Leader Denise Hyland, Enfield Council Leader Doug Taylor, Lambeth Council Leader Lib Peck., Southwark Council Leader Peter John, former Camden Council Leader Sarah Hayward, former Croydon Council Leader Tony Newman, former Merton Council Leader Stephen Alambritis.

Yet only three journalists were invited, all from what the council called the “local government sectoral press” and in a personal capacity. These were Nick Golding, editor of the Local Government Chronicle, who attended, and Michael Burton and Heather Jamison from the Municipal Journal, who did not.

A council spokesperson said: “The Town Hall event on 13 June was held to mark the end of the restoration project, and to formally thank former Mayor Jules Pipe for his contribution to Hackney.

“Around 250 people attended. Invitees included local businesses, partners from police and health, stakeholders from the cultural and voluntary sector, and others who have contributed to Hackney’s journey over the past 15 years, as a way of showing thanks to those people for their contribution to the borough. Leaders of some other London Councils were also in attendance.”

They added: “The Council is preparing a series of events to welcome residents and other stakeholders to the Town Hall, such as an open weekend for residents, participation in Open House Day, school tours and outreach events.”

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