Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Leabank Square Greenhouses!!

Thanks to an anonymous benefactor - Leabank Square has two greenhouses!!!


We have situated them up on south side of the riverbank - and will be starting to sow seeds at the beginning of Spring (watch this space!) so that we are ready for planting the seedlings as soon as it warms up a bit!!

If anyone has any spare compost in their gardens, or if anyone can afford to pick up a few bags next time you go past B&Q or Asda - please know that we'll be eternally grateful!!

You have got to admit that these greenhouses are very handsome - dont'cha think?!

Monday, 26 January 2009

Kung Hei Fat Choy!

2009 Year of the Ox

Chinese New Year is the most important of the Chinese holidays. It is a time of feasting with the family, celebration, fireworks and gift-giving.

It is a 15-day holiday, beginning on the first day of a new moon and ending with the full moon on the day of the Lantern Festival.

The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar year, so the date of Chinese New Year changes every year. The Chinese calendar follows a 12-year pattern with each year named after an animal.

There are various stories which explain this.

The simplest is that Buddha (or the Jade Emperor) invited all of the animals to join him for a New Year celebration, but only 12 animals turned up. To reward the animals that did come, Buddha named a year after each of them in the order that they arrived, starting with the Rat, followed by the Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat (or Sheep), Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

Depending on the year you are born, you are believed to have the various character traits of that year's animal!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Hackney Wick Controlled Parking Zone?

We all found out about the Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) for Hackney Wick at the Community Meeting last week. But what does it mean for Leabank Square?

Well...... the whole reason for the CPZ in our surrounding streets - is because of the influx of visitors & workers to the Olympic Construction site. The Olympic gates in White Post Lane are going to be opened for construction workers in the next few weeks. Theoretically - they should all be commuting to the site by public transport (most to Hackney Wick Station) - but we all know what happens - many of them will chance it with their own cars.

In order to discourage this - Hackney Council is thinking about imposing a Controlled Parking Zone all around the Wick. This means that those that persist in driving into the Wick will have to find alternative places to park. All our parking spaces here in Leabank Square will be very juicy tempting places for them.

We spoke to someone at the Olympic Development Agency (ODA) last week - and she hinted that they might sponsor a barrier gate at the entrance to Leabank Square. This would have a token/permit system for us residents & visitors only to use - and prevent heaps of construction site workers from using our parking spaces every day.

We are at the very early stages of planning this at the moment - Hackney Council hasn't even confirmed the CPZ yet - but we do need to start thinking ahead in order to have some control of what happens next.

There are many things to think about:

If the ODA sponsor the gate - they probably might not maintain it - so how do we manage the maintenance of it?

What kind of gate do we need?

What about the many deliveries to the many businesses in Leabank Square?

What will we do about all the school run drivers who use the square to drop off their children to Gainsborough School?

The service charge may have to be increased in order to pay for this - is that fair on non-vehicle owning residents?

What about residents who have more than one vehicle?

What about all the trailers in Leabank Square?

How do we discourage cars from parking on the entrance sidewalks - in order to keep them free for pedestrians?

Who gets rid of the numerous dumped cars in Leabank Square?

Who pays for the re-painting of the parking bay markings?

Do we even mind if construction site workers park in Leabank Square?

What does everyone else think?

Birds of Leabank Square - Seagulls

Today is National Birdwatch day - and there have been quite a few fantastic suggestions we do a few entries about what birds (& other wildlife) we have in Leabank Square.

This is a great idea - especially as the numbers of some species are dwindling - not helped by the fact that all the trees we planted across the canal have been felled. But we had some promising conversations with some of the Olympic suits at last weeks community meeting - so watch this space.

In the meantime - this is the first of the Birds of Leabank Square series - and it's the second most common bird here - after pigeons of course!!

Come & take a seat up on the river bank anytime, and toss a few crumbs into the water - and these seagulls appear out of nowhere!! They must be hovering up high - just waiting for some tiny morsel to be thrown out for them.

We are really not that far from the Thames - where there are thousands of seagulls - but someone suggests that these particular ones are from the massive waste tip at Buckingham Road in Leyton - about 400 meters from the canal.

Wherever they're from - they behave just as aggressively as all seagulls around the world - scrapping over any bit of food they happen to see. In fact - I'm not too sure if these are seagulls exactly - because they're a bit smaller than there cousins on the coast - but they do bring a lot of life and amusement to a coffee by the canal!!

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Hackney Wick Community Meeting a Great Success

Thank you to all the residents who made it down to the Hackney Wick Community Meeting on Thursday. It was great to see so many of us there!

I have sent individual emails to everyone who asked me to get answers on their behalf - but if I missed anyone - please get back in touch.

I would just like to say a massive thank you to a few people:

Charlie Foreman - the guy in the top photo - for all the very hard work and dedication he put into this meeting!! I know he has a super team around him who probably did most of the work - but he was the one who made sure that Leabank Square was listened to.

We all know the very Reverend Alan Piggot well here in Leabank Square - as a great friend and confidant. He chaired the Questions & Answers section with amazing skill & tact! He made it clear that this was the start of a new relationship with the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) - and that everyone in this relationship has a duty to be honest & open about our feelings.

A big thanks to the Wick Ward police team led very ably & professionally by Sergeant Andy Port - who looked after the event & saw that it passed off peacefully & without any hitches.

Then a massive thanks to the External Relations team under Julie King & Giorgia Sharpe - who were very helpful & forthcoming with their answers.

We all know that there are very challenging times ahead for us here in Leabank Square. The new 2-story Welfare Centre is about to be built right in front of us. It will convert into a Catering Centre for the journos & media types during the games (and hopefully back to a green afterwards).

The Media Centre & International Press Centre is also about to be constructed opposite us - with all the noise & construction activity associated with a huge development. The very high electric fence is going up in a few weeks time - and it's not pretty! Hopefully the ODA will be able to partially pretty it up with loads of trees in planters.

The White Post Lane pedestrian gate for Olympic construction workers is opening up immanently - most probably resulting in a Controlled Parking Zone being imposed on the surrounding streets (see: - and this will mean loads of workers using our own parking bays to avoid fines in the streets.

The Hackney Wick Station is going to have thousands of extra passengers coming & going into the White Post Lane Olympic Gate - on an already capacity-filled train in peak times. What does that mean for you morning & evening commute? I'd love to say - get a bike like some of us - but the Hackney Council refuse trucks speeding down Berkshire Road towards & from their new Chapman Road depot - is a very frightening experience - even for more experienced cyclists.

There are going to be times when a late running cement truck needs to empty it's cargo right opposite Leabank Square - and ruin your evening meal with a great lot of noise. There are going to be instances of hired cranes having to erect that last few metres of girding - well into the evening. There will be disruption & noise & dust & inconvenience - but the end result is a cracking Olympic Games and brilliant legacy for all of us in Leabank Square.

There is going to be a lot of trying times ahead - before & after the games - but with people like Charlie, Alan, Andy, Julie, Giorgia and all of us - we can make it an easier passage of time. We just need to be open & honest about how we all feel.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Barack Obama Inauguration Barbie in Leabank Square

Pic: Ben Broomfield
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Pic: Ben Broomfield


Our biggest & bestest barbie ever!!

The Leabank Square Barack Obama Inauguration Barbie was such a hit that we almost ran out of hotdogs!!!

On one of the coldest nights of the year so far - it was so warming to see so many of us turning out for this celebration!! Of course - this is nothing compared to the actual event!! We still are very much hoping to secure President (Oh! It feels so much better to say that now!) Obama for a barbie here in July 2012!!

We know for certain now - that he will be a few metres from us here in Leabank Square at the opening ceremony - and it would be a 5 minute walk from the stadium to us. Please continue to send all the letters we drafted to his team in Washington. The more we remind them - the greater the possibility.

We can't simply rely on the luck that we are the first & only item booked into his diary for then - we still need to work on it!

Thank you to everyone who made the barbie such a success - each Leabank Square event just gets bigger & better than the last one! And that's all down to you all!!

Dave Hill on Leabank Square

Just as diverse as Leabank Square is - must be the same with our daily & weekend newspapers. But I really do count myself as very fortunate to take theGuardian - as it gives me a very impartial view of the world. The writing is among the best in the world - and especially so when you subscribe to international web-sites of the best papers on other continents!

But - I'm not going to be an advert for theGuardian here - what I would love for you to do is to bookmark Dave Hill's excellent blog for all things Hackney & beyond!

Here in Leabank Square - we all know what we feel about the Olympics - but our view is definitely going to be skewed by the constant noise & dust coming over the fence. Dave's view is - from what I can gather - neither of the Ian (stop now & let it all decay - nice & urban-like) Sinclair - or Boris (goshly goodness - a bit of noise & a cough has simply got to be worth it) Johnson.

It's great to read fellow Hackney residents slants on the development next door - especially when they're written so well.

Aaaaaaaanyway - Dave's also lent us his support by getting our blog read a bit further than Viccie Park. See: &

So - whatever you daily - please check out his blog - plus the other Hackney links he has listed on it. Sometimes it helps to read of normal day-to-day living going on in Hackney - just a bit further away from this dustbowl!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Leabank Square - Agitators or Communicators?

Okay – so the blog entry ( was not the most appropriate entry for a little community blog - set up to encourage us all to be better neighbours.

But after having had an emergency board meeting – I have been told to explain it all to everyone else.

It all started yesterday afternoon while I was at work. Police Constable Bolter & friend knocked on our door (PMMS – please fix the downstairs security door for once & for all!!!) – and asked Nadira where I was.

Of course – for a woman alone in her flat to be confronted by 2 police men – asking to speak to her partner – is not the most pleasant of experiences – especially when they by-passed the security door. Nadira explained that I was at work – but got the impression that they didn’t believe her.

They then asked her to tell me to call them about the community meeting. She then asked the most talkative one what his name was – and felt that he was reluctant to give it – but he did – and said I knew the telephone number – which I do as Neil & I sit on the local Safer Neighbourhood Team (Community Advisory Panel) meetings.

When I got a tea break at work – I gave him a call – thinking it was still going to be a nice friendly chat about the participants of the meeting – which I have a bit-part in organising as I also sit on the Hackney Wick Partnership meetings helping to organise this meeting.

What followed was a very one-sided conversation with PC Bolter stressing in his very professional manner - that he had been told by his sergeant that there were people using our blog who were organising to disrupt the meeting – and that at the first sign of any trouble – he would personally be arresting the trouble makers.

I listened in stunned silence as he proceeded to make me feel very guilty about having set up a local community blog. However he was trying to sound – he came across sounding as if he was warning me! Telling me – that if I had any influence (wink, wink) that I should dissuade these potential trouble makers from disrupting the meeting. Saying that there was talk of starting a fire – which he would again – personally – extinguish.

All in all the very one-sided conversation lasted about 5 minutes – and I felt like a little school boy being told off by Sir. I managed to get a few words in – but – to be honest – don’t think he really heard me. He said he hadn’t even seen our blog that he was warning me about.

So far – so text book. So far – so just doing his job. Someone complains about a neighbour. Local copper pays a visit to politely warn said neighbour about their behaviour. The more raised their voice, the more direct their language, the more they talk at you – the less you feel like being a bad neighbour.

In theory.

But let’s look at the slightly bigger picture shall we?

Leabank Square is a stunning place to live. We all know just how lucky we are to have a cleverly designed square that discourages any anti-social behaviour, we have communal barbies, picnics, festivals, gardening clubs, cycling tours – and all the other things that we have written about on this blog. We are proud of Leabank Square – and so when something goes a bit skew – we want to make it better.

We lost Arena Fields – we tried to make it better – but the politicians then sold it off to the ODA.

We then started suffering with the noise & dust from the massive construction site next door – we are trying to make it better – by asking POLITELY for the ODA to be a better neighbour.

When they ignored us – we – STILL POLITELY – got a few more interested parties to ask them to be nicer neighbours.

When they started lying to us – we STILL VERY POLITELY asked our democratically elected representatives to ask questions on our behalf.

Then the fun began.

Some of our computers were co-incidentally hacked into. We started co-incidentally receiving silent phone calls on unlisted numbers. Some phone calls co-incidentally playing personal recorded phone calls made to friends were made. Some very personal messages were co-incidentally sent to me warning me off continuing campaigning for cleaner air & less noise.

And - so now - who co-incidentally suggested to the police to come over to chat to me? If Sergeant Port just happened to be surfing the local blogs & happened to come across our community blog & happened to be interested in the comments section (which I do not write) of one of hundreds of blog entries – then fair dues! He might suggest to his PC that he have a quiet word with the blog entry (which I do write) author.

But then I have met Sergeant Port & as I wrote in ( back in December – I was very impressed with his hands-on approach to street work. I haven’t heard about his web surfing prowess – yet – but I will be even more impressed if he still finds the time to surf local blogs after doing the fantastic street policing I know he does.

So the chat from PC Bolter in itself - is nothing out of the ordinary. He was just doing his job. Sure - he could have tried to listen to me a bit more – but he knows how to do his job far better than I do. But – it’s just that he was co-incidentally asked to chat to me about another instance related to the ODA.

So who is behind all this?

I am not for even a second suggesting that it is the ODA at all. But then who is it? Not the LDA. Not the IOC. Not the Department of Culture, Media & Sport. Not Hackney Council. Not Morrisons. Not Boris Johnson. Not BAM Nuttal. Not David Higgins. Not Carillion. Not some over-enthusiastic Olympic Supporter. Not BOSS (anymore!).

But who?

And why?

Well…….. there are far more cleverer people than me who are very busy finding out for us. But in the meantime Leabank Square – please be very careful about what you say to anyone. You too might be branded a trouble-maker and may be visited by PC Bolter & friend.

The board of the LSRA is deciding whether or not to encourage the whole square not to go to the meeting. If there really are going to be agitators & fire-starters as PC Bolters intelligence suggests – then it might suggest that we all stay safely here in Leabank Square on the 22nd January.

In summary: The whole reason I am waffling on about all this – is that PC Bolter asked me to use my influence to dissuade any potential trouble-makers intent on disrupting the meeting. He then suggested that I not mention having a phone call with him. I tried by posting that (admittedly) rather confusing post about the meeting – and haven’t stopped taking frustrated phone calls on the Leabank Square Residents Hotline (07535 054 997 as I never tire of reminding everyone!!).

The board then called an extra-ordinary meeting today to discuss this – and insisted I tell all.

We all have to keep reminding ourselves that we are a small, but tight-knit community residential square, and our only ‘crime’ was to engage our anti-social neighbours in some kind of dialogue to sort out the noise & dust.

So….. to all the police, protesters, Olympic people, squatters, construction people, angry Hackney Wickers, council people, bloggers, ‘agencies’, commentators, hackers, buggers & most of all……. firestarter agitators – BE NICE!!!

East London Business Alliance for Leabank Square?

I have just recieved this brilliant letter from Emrana at the East London Business Alliance. I am sure we have all seen articles in the East London Advertiser & Hackney Gazette about the projects this fantastic organisation has helped facilitate.

I am meeting her on Wed 4 February - to chat about how they may be able to help us out.

Now - I know we ALL love gardening & painting & woodworking & tidying & doing up Leabank Square - and I am not going to agree to anything that will take projects over from any of us. But this could potentially be a great way to add to any projects we might have for the spring & summer seasons.

Please could you all send me some ideas of projects we could think of doing with this orgainisation. And - NO!! - we can't just pick the projects we don't want to do (dog-poo collection, weeding, sweeping, etc!).

Think big!! Think creative!! Think what we could do with a few extra pairs of hands!!

Dear Sóna,

I work for ELBA (East London Business Alliance) as the Volunteer Coordinator and sit within the Hackney Team at ELBA I thought it might be worth while in asking if you, your organisation if you would like potential support and would like to meet ELBA.

ELBA (East London Business Alliance) can potentially offer pro-bono support for voluntary and public sector organisations through employee volunteers from our City and Canary Wharf companies sharing their skills, time and expertise for instance joining as trustees on a board and helping with business planning, providing legal advise, business skills, mentoring, IT skills, also giving one day support through team challenges, these help organisations with decorating, gardening or cleaning etc. However other support can be offered depending on individual needs of organisations but this would be discussed in an initial meeting and tailored to their needs where possible.
We have done of team challenge type volunteering opportunities with Hackney Homes coordinated by Jackie Lotus. We worked in revamping many community estate halls around Hackney and were looking to do something thing similar on centres which are more focused on Children service providers i.e. youth clubs etc as apposed to multi functional centres we have worked in before.

ELBA would be unable source any funding for the organisations. However our employee volunteers can provide some of their time/expertise in helping with Business Planning and funding bid applications.

I attach a brief overview of ELBA and other information which may be of might interest to you. Attached also is an organisation registration form that all new organisations that are supported by ELBA need to complete.
If they are interested in any of the potential support we offer or would like to know more you can email me and I will get in contact and organise a meeting to visit and learn more about your organisation and their areas of need. In this introductory meeting I can answer any further questions they may have.

Look forward to hearing from you soon.

Emrana Akthar

Project Co-ordinator

Barack Obama Inauguration Tea in Leabank Square

We will be hosting an inauguration tea party for Barack Obama on the Riverbank @ 6pm on Tuesday 20th January!!!

Those of you that remember back to the summer (all those cold days ago!) will remember that we all knew he was going to win the election - and so we invited him (through his campaign team) to come for a barbie here in Leabank Square - when he attended the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

Now that the media are getting into this story in a MAJOR way - there is every real possibility that this event will happen!!

So - in that spirit - we are hosting a Barack Obama Inauguration tea party up on the Riverbank @ 6pm. There will be free teas & coffees - and naturally - blueberry muffins!!

Please all come along!

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Hackney Wick Community Meeting

If there is anyone going to the Hackney Wick Community Meeting on the 22nd Of January to cause any disruption of any kind – please bear in mind that by far the majority of us want to actually hear what the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) has to say.

Of course we are very concerned about the goings on across the canal – but it’s not going to help our cause by being angry & confrontational.

Monday, 12 January 2009

Thank You to Claire Pollard

Pic: Z

All of Leabank Square sends a MASSIVE thanks to Claire Pollard (& Tom) for donating a stunning Blue Spruce to us!!

Not only did Claire donate it to our garden - but she also transported it over to us!! What a lovely gift!

Claire thought that a Xmas Tree was not just for Xmas - but for life - and chose Leabank Square to give it that life-long growth.

Thank you both for such a stunning gift - and we hope that you'll visit this blog to check up on it's progress over the years.

Bird Boxes for Leabank Square

Have you noticed how few birds there are nowadays? There used to be loads of them when Arena Fields was full of trees!!

We now have to take immediate action to bring them back!!

We are in the process of making loads of bird boxes for Leabank Square!! We will be putting them up in very carefully selected nooks & crannies of the square - in order to encourage a lot more nesting this coming spring.

If you know of any space in your garden that is out of reach of any cats - please send an email - and we can get you a bird box for your garden. There are quite a few different designs - in order to encourage a variety of different birds - if you want to choose - then come up onto the riverbank to see a selection.

In the meantime - please hook up as many bird feeders as you can fit in your garden (again - out of reach of any cats!) - or from your balconies. You'll be so surprised at what new neighbours will come visiting!

New Borders for Leabank Square Green!!

Pic: Z

Today Shanthi & myself found some brilliant logs for the borders on the green! We have finished the front section already - and hopefully we will have enough for the whole green.

As all you gardeners know - the watering of the flowers, fruit & veg on the green is a bit tricky - because of the builders rouble underneath. It has created a bow to the green - causing most of the water to run off into the car-park.

These logs should keep almost all the water in the borders - making the soil much better for gardening in.

If anyone else knows where to find some more logs - please shout!!

Thank You to Laura Smith

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A HUGE thanks to Laura Smith from north Hackney for the beautiful Spruce tree she very kindly gave to Leabank Square!

For Xmas she very sensibly bought a rooted Xmas tree - so that it could continue growing after the festive season - and this is where it's going to do some incredible growing!!

Thanks too - to Sarah - who went to pick the tree up for us! With friends like these two wonderful people - Leabank Square is going to continue thriving for many years to come.

Laura - we hope you check on your kind donation here on the blog - and see it growing as the years go by. More importantly - check out the extremely creative decorations that will adorn it - made by the fantastic residents here in Leabank Square.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Gainsborough Primary School next to Leabank Square

We have all lived next to the very grand Gainsborough School since coming to Leabank Square - but how much do we know about it?

Some of us have even attended it as pupils, but as it's a primary school, probably weren't too interested in it's history at the time - play-time was the top of our agenda!

So here are a few facts & websites to help us know & learn a bit more about it - but please add as much as you want about it.
Gainsborough is a growing primary school in Hackney Wick, with a roll of around 350. The school backs onto the Lea Navigation Canal and is within 10 minutes walk of Victoria Park, where they go en masse every July for the Teddy Bears' Picnic.

The families represent a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds and they have a Turkish parents group that meets once a week. They have a strong emphasis on sport and take part in various inter-school leagues.

It is 5 minutes away from Hackney Wick station which is part of the Overground network and we are also served by the 30, 26, 276, 236, S2 and W15 buses.

We need stories, photos, memories, anecdotes, updates, bio's of any teachers you may remember, in fact - anything at all about Gainsborough!!!,19,PRO.html

Greening Leabank Square!!

Some amazing suggestions have come through the emails recently - and it would be great to discuss them up here as well!
It always seems very grey & drab at this time of year - and especially compared to the fantastic flowers we all put on display over this last summer!!
But it seems as though the lack of colour is getting to many of us - and there have been many suggestions as to how & create colour ALL YEAR ROUND in Leabank Square!
The new sign for the front entrance fence will go some way to getting some colour back into the square - but that's paint! What we need is natural growing colour!!
Taking our queue from Wick Village next door - many of you suggested that we start growing creepers up our buildings!! This will provide green all year round - plus make it look as though their is some management & maintenance going on!!
There are traditional Ivy creepers, but then there are Passion Flowers, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Clematis, Virginia Creeper, Wisteria......... We could go on & on - but the common themes among the suggestions are that:
  • There is far too much brick showing in Leabank Square.
  • There is hardly any colour in the winter months.
  • There is no green on any of the buildings.
So........ Some suggestions are that we plant many & varying creepers up as many of the terraced houses as want to participate - and up all of the blocks of flats.
This will look absolutely stunning, make us all feel closer to nature, provide colour all year long, provide natural feed & habitat & greater bio-diversity - but most important of all - bring us all closer together!!
What do you think?