Hackney Mayor Philip Glanville sat down with the Citizen last Friday for an exclusive, hour-long video interview.
The Mayor gives an insight into the council’s work since the last such interview in early May, and covers the challenges and some of the pressing issues facing the borough today.
For those wanting to get the Mayor’s view on a particular subject, below the video is a rough guide to what is discussed, with links that will take you directly to the relevant portions.
It was announced shortly before the interview that the borough along with the City of London had the highest two-week rise in cases in London, and the Mayor first responded to questions on how his authority are able to respond to “isolated household clusters” of Covid cases.
He also answered questions on the potential stigmatisation of specific groups or neighbourhoods which could face local lockdowns by urging a recognition that the pandemic must be faced collectively, and that clusters or outbreaks should not be viewed as the failing of any specific group.
The borough leader next discussed the balancing by the council as a regulatory authority of businesses’ needs to expand outdoors in order to survive with the concerns of locals on social distancing and use of the public realm, and further explored how the concept of the 15-minute city, in which residents are never more than a quarter of an hour from goods, services and employment, could make the borough more resilient to the crisis’ impact.
Addressing the financial challenges faced by the council, namely a £40m funding shortfall even after government support, the Mayor went into further detail on what future obstacles the Town Hall could come up against, including exposure to financial risks in irrecoverable debt and uncertainty on future government funding.
Glanville described what work has been going on to plan for emergency accommodation for rough sleepers over the winter in the changed circumstances presented by social distancing measures, and addressed what changes the borough could see as a result of new local planning guidance, making clear that all new-builds must include or make a contribution to affordable housing.
Challenges from campaigners to the council on whether the text of its recent motion stating unequivocally that Black Lives Matter could have been stronger were discussed next, with Glanville underlining his view that the motion is “the most comprehensive of any English council”.
The borough leader went on to defend the council’s position following criticism over its dispute with domestic violence charity Sistah Space, with the Citizen quizzing the Mayor on whether a peppercorn rent in the organisation’s current site would be possible, and on what solutions he saw to the row to ensure the charity’s work could continue.
Glanville finished with a discussion on how emissions from the built environment in Hackney could be brought down following the council’s first annual update in its decarbonisation work, as well as giving an update on the current position of Bridport House, the troubled Colville Estate block from which residents were told to move as a result of errors in its construction.