Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News Shorts And Other Business

Hackney Blah

Squall 10, Summer 1995, pg. 5.

Hackney Council’s former Director of Housing, Bernard Crofton, has been sacked for racial harassment following a decision by a disciplinary panel at the end of March.

Crofton wrote a report earlier this year blaming ‘illegal immigrants’ for corruption and fraud within the housing department and was disciplined for unsupported allegations of nepotism against personnel director, Sam Yeboah (see Hackney TAT Man Suspended in SQUALL 9).

The panel concluded that Mr Crofton’s behaviour had been “intolerable and unacceptable”. During the course of the hearing Ken Ostler, head of the Tenancy Audit Team (TAT) was sacked and said he had effectively “cut his own throat” by supporting Crofton. He also claimed he had been escorted from his office “like a criminal”, not too dissimilar to the way he and his TAT ‘untouchables’ escorted hundreds of squatters from their homes like criminals over the past year or so. A professional auditor, Keith Burchall, took over from Ostler at TAT at the beginning of March.

During the time Crofton’s case was being heard a total of 19 Labour councillors, occupying nearly all of the top jobs, were sacked. All, that is, except the much-hated chair of the housing committee, Slimey Matthews, who stated last year that he could not wait to use the CJA against squatters.

In a recent interview with Inside Housing magazine Matthews wound up tenants at Lincoln Court in Stoke Newington by referring to what they are reputed to call their “beautiful estate” as a “crappy 1970s’ tower block”. He has also angered tenants by announcing that 19 poorly maintained estates in the borough, a total of 7,000 of the 36,000 remaining council properties, are under consideration for sale to housing associations.

Because of the personnel shuffles on the top rung of the council, and Tony Elliston’s replacement of Jerry White as chief executive, Crofton is said to be hopeful that his appeal, due to start in June, will get a ‘fair’ hearing. He is appealing because, according to the Hackneyed Gazette, “the council made almost 50 procedural mistakes during the original 22-day hearing, which was branded a farce after the five-member disciplinary hearing was whittled down to two following three resignations”.

The truth of this case will probably never be known to Hackney residents and in terms of uncovering fraud in Hackney housing department, it seems that the rot is so deep (with new cases of department workers committing benefit frauds popping up all the time) that any enquiry will be a case of the bent investigating the bent.