Islington Tribune
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Islington Tribune - by PETER GRUNER
Published: 22 May 2009

Pat Haynes
Curious episode of Straw’s ban on dogs ‘pawed’ over in book

Ex-mayor tells how former Islington councillor’s ‘populist’ policy stoked anger on estates

JUST when he’s trying to get over the “confusion” about his expenses, Justice Minister Jack Straw has heard that a dark time when he was an Islington councillor is about to be “pawed” over.
Mr Straw was deputy to former Labour leader Margaret Hodge on Islington Council in the early 1970s, when he tried to introduce a ban on dogs on council estates.
to former Islington Labour Mayor Pat Haynes’ book, An Islington Councillor (1971-1992).
The dog ban was referred to briefly by Mrs Hodge when she broke cover at a Fabian dinner in the borough three years ago and denounced the Iraq war as Blair’s “big mistake in foreign affairs”.
Her comments made headlines around the world after they were reported by Islington Tribune editor Eric Gordon, who attended the dinner.
But she also recalled that when she chaired the housing committee her then deputy, Mr Straw, pushed through a policy that the Town Hall should ban dogs on council estates. This was despite her serious objections.
After describing Mr Straw as a “populist, which he is still to this day”, Ms Hodge said she lost the argument and the dogs were banned.
This had resulted in serious threats to her life, which had gone on for 20 years.
“Every year I used to get a threatening letter from a tenant who said that as a result her dog Flossie had had to be put down,” she said.
Speaking about the episode today, Mr Haynes said that tenants were threatened with eviction if they kept dogs in their flats.
“Many tenants rebelled and said they would rather go to prison than give up their dogs. The majority completely ignored the ban and unfortunately it proved unworkable.”
Mr Haynes is bemused by the latest crisis over MPs’ expenses.
“In the 70s as a councillor all you could claim was the fare from home to a meeting,” he said. “We all worked full-time and did our council work in our evenings, weekends and spare time.
“Today our councillors are on £10,000 annually or £60,000 if they are executive members.
“You can’t help wondering why they need that sort of money when many of them work.
“And a lot of their research is done by officers.
“In the 70s about one or two chief officers earned £50,000 – now about 150 earn that money and a few earn more than £180,000 a year”.
A “likeable chap but an obvious careerist who was going places” was how Mr Hayes described Councillor Straw in the 1970s.

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