How Hackney means green. Just don’t ask the cost of the Speaker’s chauffeured limo

HackDns©DA16: Hackney Downs London E8 spring 2016 © DavidAltheer [at]
eco©19: Hackney council ecology propaganda sign in Lower Clapton Road Clapton E5 050519 ©
Green charter: Hackney council signs on to environment improvement, and top, the Downs, one of many marvellous local parks

HACKNEY COUNCIL HAS TOLD Loving Dalston of a range of measures that will keep its place among London’s most environmentally progressive boroughs.

Jon Burke, Hackney’s energy councillor, said: “Hackney council is a leader in tackling London’s toxic air, with one of the most extensive schools air-quality monitoring and support programmes of any London borough, a borough-wide network of over 200 monitoring sites, one of the greenest vehicle fleets, a growing School Streets programme, an expanding network of electric-charging points and a programme to support businesses to switch to low or zero-emission  vehicles.” 

Power-play: Jon Burke aims to energise Hackney

A green-infrastructure plan would focus on using “trees and green spaces to improve air quality”.

Seven School Streets schemes had been introduced, he added.

The council said it had found a way for the borough to benefit from dockless bikes “while reducing obstructions on pavements“, a claim that will be viewed with some scepticism by blind and other residents of Hackney, who have not always been able to cope with the abandonment on our streets of the big clunky bicycles.

To further counter the emissions from cars and other sources that cause many thousands of premature deaths in London, Hackney aims to plant more than 1,000 trees. Not all will be native species — the council had to look at tree provision “for a changing climate“, a weak argument, given that native trees have, by definition and by their very existence, shown they can survive severe British climate changes over many millennia.

More credibly, the council says it needs to choose trees that are “resilient to pests and diseases“.

As well as providing more and more streetside charging points to encourage motorists to go electric, the council is setting an example: more than 50 of its fleet of community-library vans, park buggies and other vehicles are electric. Some vehicles are being decarbonised by the installation of a cooking-oil alternative said to produce lower greenhouse-gas emissions.

ecar©DA19: electric mini Fiat hire car refuels in Downs Park Road Dalston E8 © 050519
Charging: an electric Fiat quietly refuels in Downs Park Road, Dalston

And soon Hackney hopes, like some other  councils, to be providing “clean, local electrical power” from its own company, originally scheduled to be set up in January this year 2019 but now due to be launched, as Hackney Light and Power, next spring 2020.

The council has made a lot of the proposal — in contrast with its reluctance to reveal the cost of the high-speed Tesla saloon it leased for the Speaker.

It said: “Based on whole-life-cost calculations the ceremonial Tesla is cheaper to operate than the diesel vehicle [a Mercedes-Benz E-class saloon] that it replaced.”

Ideal for a councillor? A Tesla, the superfast high-cost American five-door saloon

Asked why the Speaker could not be driven in a taxi to snip the tape at school fetes, chair meetings and to pose at citizenship ceremonies like a 3rd Division John Bercow, the council cited the risk of damage to, or theft of, the robes and chains that go with the post. The obvious solution of going without pompous appurtenances was not considered.

Hackney borough heritage civic regalia kept in Hackney Museum 22 Sep 2014 ©
Golden opportunity: the kind of chains you get to wear if it’s your turn to be council Speaker

Hackney told Loving Dalston it would email the cost of the Speaker’s car. Despite repeated (and polite) reminders, it has not done so.

If you can’t wait and want to feel as grand as a Hackney councillor, you could buy rather than lease a Tesla S: list price £81,200.

David Altheer 121119

* Backstory: Councillor sprouts tree scheme for Hackney; Bollards! Keeping cars off a Hackney path; Goodbye glyphosate; The inaudible council meeting; Hackney’s secret gold

* Pictures ©, apart from that of Jon Burke, supplied by Hackney council

Wild©DA16: Wildflowermeadow @ Hackney Downs, Dalston E8 040516 © DavidAltheer[at]gmail.com040516 © DavidAltheer[at]
A midsummer day in one of the Hackney wildflower patches that brings visitors from around London
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