Friday, July 31, 2009

Croydon Greens in the letters pages

Labour's Tony Newman is forced to condemn Labour MEP's.

Director General of British Plastic Federation has a pop.




Response to Peter Davis letter

27.07.09


Dear Sir

Peter Davis thinks that the Green Party is misleading readers when it warns local people about the risks of incineration. To qualify his assumption, he reels off some emission percentages. I could easily counter his argument with a set of telling statistics but I am aware that the public is becoming tired of data being spun to demonstrate one’s case. Instead, I would prefer to investigate the figures he presents.
Mr Davis states that Energy from Waste (EfW) incineration, just like the domestic heating, iron and steel industries, releases dioxins into the air but in lower quantities. I am pleased that Mr Davis recognises EfW releases harmful emissions. Just this month, a representative from the EfW industry, who was touting business for his own company, told the GLA Environment Committee that his plant was a closed system with no emissions! The fact is there are always harmful emissions. If they do not escape into the air, they take the form of a toxic sludge which if not sealed correctly leaks into the water table.
It is also absurd to compare incinerators with smelting works because the government is not planning to roll out a new generation of steel plants in residential areas. Not only that, his rationale is that existing pollution makes new pollution acceptable. The government is already facing prosecution and serious fines for exceeding safe air pollution levels.
However, the most revealing part of his letter is that Mr Davis is the Director-General of the British Plastics Federation (BPF) - a body that would relish a new generation of privately run incinerators that lock councils in to providing high waste streams for up to 35 years. It would mean that that the plastics industry would not be required to reduce the variety of plastics it produces, including chlorinated plastic and other forms that cannot be recycled or safely disposed. Furthermore, it secures the produce, consume and dispose approach that members of the BPF arguably favour to maintain profits as opposed to a zero waste strategy, which will undoubtedly slash margins.
The Green Party is all about the health of people before profits. What we are seeing thanks to our revelations are stakeholders and the other political parties running for cover as the desired outcome of the South London Waste Plan unfolds.

Yours sincerely


Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Hokey Cokey

hokey cokey Pictures, Images and Photos

24.07.09
Dear Editor,

I wonder if other readers of your paper are as confused as I am regarding the issue of the incinerator. Over the passed couple of weeks, Tory councillors Fisher and Thomas have been treating us to a version of the ‘hokey cokey’ that ordinarily would have me in stitches, but given the enormity of the issue I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.
First one says that its not an incinerator, and then the other says, “Nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out”. Then Cllr Fisher says he will, “not allow an incinerator in this town”, inferring that Sutton, Kingston and Merton – the other boroughs in the South London Waste Partnership – would welcome the billion pound incinerator, only to be trumped by Cllr Thomas who then states, “I am pretty sure there won’t be one in Kingston, Merton or Sutton either.”
Wow! Unless he is planning on securing the services of illusionist David Blaine, how is he going to make the estimated 7.5 million tonnes of waste disappear??
Thus far, the pronouncements from Croydon Council do not instill much confidence. There needs to be clarity and honesty on this issue and we are getting neither.
Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party


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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Addiscombe Carnival video

Where else would you find the Green Party sandwiched between an estate agents' company car and convoy of Hells Angels?




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Monday, July 27, 2009

Academisation in Croydon cost £1million

Below is a letter that my colleague in Croydon Save Our Schools sent to the Croydon Advertiser......


Dear Editor

The true cost to the tax payer of the transfer of two community high schools to academy status is only just becoming known.
Disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act show some of the costs of changing Haling Manor into an academy. The interim costs are £981,666 to cover the feasibility of the proposal, including legal, educational and consultative related tasks and also project management fees, a range of activities to prepare the academy for opening, including transition planning, educational, ICT, and buildings related tasks. This figure also includes a grant to the academy trust to cover 'lead-in' costs such as key staff, office expenses etc.
In addition the actual main capital (building) costs have not yet been finalised, but it is estimated this will be a multi million project because of the need for a sixth form building, updated ICT provisions and other improvements. These figures do not include Croydon Council's costs nor the DCSF's staff costs. Academies also receive a 'Start up' grant in their first years. It would be interesting to know just how much the sponsors contribute.
Haling Manor currently offers music to a very high standard but despite promises from the Harris sponsors at the public meeting we now find that this specialism is being dropped and replaced with sport and enterprise.
The figures for Ashburton are not yet known but no doubt they will be on a similar scale to Haling Manor and it is known that the capital costs for the junior and infant buildings will be met by the LA.
One wonders why academies receive preferential treatment such as special funding running into millions but such funding is not available to existing community schools.

Yours faithfully

Audrey King

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Press Release: Sustainable Communities Act - Petition with 846 signatures delivered



Additional comment:

I am pleased that the council have finally come to their senses and listened to what shopkeepers, local people and the Green Party have been demanding.

However, by leaving it to the last minute to pass the motion, the council has left itself with an impossible task. Their own motion requires the council to set up a Citizens Panel (or panels) of local people across the borough who can develop potential proposals which would promote sustainability by 31st July!

It’s difficult to comprehend what the councillors were thinking. This debacle implies that the Act was not taken seriously all along and belated attempts to embrace it were an afterthought.

We hear Conservative leader David Cameron constantly talking about a ‘bottom up’ approach to government and who can forget “vote blue go green”? But people that want to see sustainable decisions that secure the vibrancy of our communities, can now see this Tory council is all about ‘top down’ power and to “vote blue is to get blue.

21.07.09 for immediate release

PRESS RELEASE – “ACT NOW! PART II” Photo Opp.

Photo opp. details:

22nd July. 3pm outside Town Hall, Katherine Street, Croydon

CROYDON SHOPKEEPERS AND LOCAL CAMPAIGNERS WILL BE ASKING CROYDON COUNCIL ONCE AGAIN TO JOIN OTHER COUNCILS AND ‘OPT IN’ TO THE SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES ACT.

Croydon Green Party campaigners will again stand alongside local shopkeepers calling again on this council to ‘opt in’ (1) to the Sustainable Communities Act (2). This time they will be presenting their petitions with a covering letter to the Town Hall.

This Act of parliament gives communities the opportunity to support local shops and improve the social wellbeing in their area. Individuals from across the borough form a ‘Citizens Panel’ to come up with suggestions to the council. In Birmingham the Citizens Panel proposed that small businesses should be promoted by increasing business rate relief (3).

Supporting the campaign is Esther Sutton, a local licensee. Her pub the Green Dragon was recently voted best pub in Croydon. Esther said:

“Small businesses are vital for local communities. Pubs in particular often double as ‘community centres’ where people across social strata can socialise, play sports be entertained, do business or gather for important events. The sad fact is that 52 pubs a week* are closing in this country, possibly forced out of business by huge supermarket chains retailing alcohol at impossibly low prices. The Sustainable Communities Act creates more of a level playing field by helping to preserve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of local communities.”

Despite the pressure on Croydon council to ‘opt in’ and ‘Act Now’, the Conservative council has been stalling and even suggested, “the Act doesn’t go far enough.”

Commenting on the council’s recent response, Shasha Khan said:

“Shopkeepers and campaigners read the council’s response in your paper with disdain. Other areas are using the Act to support local businesses. In suggesting that the Act doesn’t go far enough the council are giving a clear signal that their priorities lie with supermarkets and out of town retail parks and they simply do no value local shops.”

Green Party campaigner Amelie Boleyn added:

“The petition gives worried customers an opportunity to express to the council how important local shops are for our communities. Croydon Council must act now so we can give more say to our communities”

Ends

Notes:

(1) http://www.localworks.org/?q=node/5#5

(2) http://www.localworks.org/




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Friday, July 24, 2009

Letter on BNP

Thanks to your article (BNP candidate in race "rant" enquiry, July 17th) the British National Party stands condemned out of its own mouth.

While stating that he "will probably use different words" when he "addresses the electorate" Clifford Le May admits he stands by his outrageous racist claims. Worse still, when the party press spokesman was asked to comment, he not only stated that he agreed with the sentiments expressed, but advised wording these "more politely".

Croydon Central voters should be in no doubt about the true nature of this racist party, whichever way their candidate "couches his language". At a time when we are looking for honesty and trustworthiness in our elected representatives, I suggest voters should now be aware that they will not find these qualities in the BNP. For those despairing of finding these qualities in any political party, may I suggest a visit to the Croydon Green Party website http://croydongreens.org.uk?

Bernice Golberg
Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Croydon Central

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Letter re incinerator coverage


13.07.09

Dear Editor,

Thank you Croydon Advertiser for publicising the looming spectre of an incinerator. The vast majority of people in the borough were unaware that a consultation had even commenced.

Quite how we have moved from an innocent consultation leaflet entitled ‘Moving away from landfill’, with fields of daisies and woodland on the front cover, to a procurement document that sees Croydon Council seeking bids for the handling of incineration, radioactive and hazardous waste services is beyond me. The questionnaire within the consultation leaflet was astonishingly only completed by forty people in four boroughs. This smacks of a ‘what they don’t know won’t harm them attitude’.

Regrettably, I feel it is important for readers to recognise the politics behind this and appreciate the democratic deficit. It was the Labour and Tories MEP’s who voted to rebrand incinerators as ‘energy from waste plants’ - thus creating the impression that burning our rubbish is somehow environmentally friendly. One would assume the idea behind this rebranding is to get incinerators through the planning process. It is also the Labour government that is funding this South London incinerator and it will be the Lib Dem Councils in Kingston and Sutton, Labour councillors in Merton and this Conservative council in Croydon that sign off the construction of what will be known as a ‘waste management site’. Of course local campaigners will try and stop this eventuality.

What is also apparent is the lack of political will and vision from the other three parties. The solution to our growing waste crisis is a zero waste strategy of reducing and reusing coupled with recycling and composting. At an estimated cost of a billion pounds, surely the money spent on this ‘waste management site’ would be better used paying for an extensive education programme, comprehensive kerbside recycling facility and the building of a Resource Recovery Plant.

Studies show cancer rates, birth defects, lung and kidney disease all go up in the wards downwind from an incinerator.

The question is: Can you trust the council with your health if the motivation is to avoid incurring penalties for sending waste to landfill, which undoubtedly will result in raising council tax?

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party


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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Letter on Sustainable Communities Act


Dear Editor,

In response to your inside story covering our campaign to ratify the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 in Croydon, I reply with fustration at the council officials comments regarding the apparent ‘weakness’ of the Act. Let us not forget that this is the same council, which grants the unsustainable development of out of town superstores as well as their conglomerated counterparts such as Tesco Metro’s, surfacing ownership more or less on any spare piece of brown-belt remaining. It seems to be with immense regret that our council have allowed big business to overrule and dictate the path of economic development in Croydon in favour of shareholder returns in place of the livelihood of butchers, greengrocers, fishmongers, to name but a few which were once upon a time part of the back-bone of the once many vibrant communities, which entwined Croydon only to be replaced by a multitude of takeaways and fast-food outlets - we are surely spoilt for choice, no need to source our food locally when all we need to do is grab some deep-fried pre-incarcerated chicken drumsticks and genetically modified potato wedges and head straight home in time to catch the next episode of Big Brother? Are our lifestyles really guided by personal preference or are we now living in a society which is governed by what our chosen politicians gift wrap as democracy? And let us move on to our public services. The few remaining local post offices struggling to provide a value added service against all the odds in a climate fighting centralization. Police stations are centralized, reduced to part-time or closing completely not to mention our local fire stations. Is it at all surprising that the word ‘local’ doesn’t seem to register on our radars any more? To many of us, shopping and working locally involves getting in the car and driving to the nearest out of town shopping complex, motorway, or train stations and even our children’s schools if we can find a space! Infastructure goes deeper than simply adding roads. Community and locality is the key to improving our quality of lives, and it seems the only piece of legislation designed to encourage the return of our vibrant past is being excused as too weak. Could it be that council officials are concerned that the community are not capable of deciding how to contribute to decisions which benefit the vibrance of our town? The petition says it all LBC, the community disagrees. We call on LBC to appoint a Citizens Panel, sit up and Act Now and sign by July 31st.


Amelie Elisabeth Boleyn


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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Conservative Council forced to admit the obvious

Link to online version
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

You tube video of the Sustainable Communities Act demo



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Friday, July 10, 2009

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Incinerator procurement contract obtained

Link to online story


Press Release


For Immediate release: 06.07.09

INCINERATOR TO BURN RADIOACTIVE AND HAZARDOUS WASTE.


Can we trust the council now that this has been revealed?


Croydon Greens have obtained a damning document [1] which confirms their worst fears and exposes the intention of the South London Waste Partnership. The key to the document are the numbers and codes it contains.


Firstly, it identifies the estimated cost: 919, 000, 000.00 GBP. Almost £1billion (see page 6 of document).

Secondly it suggests that total residual waste will reduce from 222,000 tonnes in 2014 to 200,000 tonnes in 2023 (page 5). This means recycling targets will barely improve whilst the ‘waste management site’ is in operation. The local Green Party have been explaining to local residents that a steady flow of waste would be required to make the privately run plant profitable. This will no doubt include recyclable waste.

Most importantly, the document contains a series of codes known in EU-speak as the Common Procurement Vocabulary (page 5).

One can simply enter the object code listed in the table (page 5) into the ‘find’ field of the EU glossary[2]. Using this process one is able ascertain what each code means.


Here are some examples of what Croydon Council is asking bids for:

9051330= Incineration
9051390=Sludge disposal
90520000=Radioactive, toxic, medical and hazardous waste services ( you can guess why they wanted that in code)
90524200=Clinical waste disposal
45252300=Refuse incinerator construction


Spokesperson for the Croydon Green Party Shasha Khan said:


“All along the Croydon Green Party has been maintaining that the incinerator will suddenly appear on the horizon, most plausibly, in the Beddington sewage works area. The vast majority of people in the borough are unaware that a consultation has even started.

“Now we have obtained the procurement contract. This document contains a series of codes which can only be interpreted through the ‘Common Procurement Vocabulary’ – a sort pan European glossary. Thankfully we’ve identified what the numbers on the procurement contract actually mean.

“Quite how we have moved from an innocent consultation leaflet entitled ‘Moving away from landfill’, with fields of daisies and woodland on the front cover, to document that sees Croydon Council asking for bids for: incineration, sludge disposal, radioactive, toxic, medical and hazardous waste services, clinical waste disposal and refuse incinerator construction is beyond me. I don’t recall this being agreed.

“Not only that, the billion pound procurement contract suggests that hazardous waste from other areas will be transported in via trucks for us to dispose.

Shasha continued:

“I must take this opportunity to reiterate the solution to our growing waste crisis is a zero waste strategy of ‘reducing and reusing coupled with recycling and composting. At the cost of a billion pounds, surely this money could be better spent on an extensive education programme, comprehensive kerbside recycling facility and the building of Resource Recovery Plant.

“But it’s the health effects that most concern me. Studies show cancer rates, birth defects, lung and kidney disease all go up. [3]”

Recently Croydon Council accused the Croydon Green Party of “going around frightening people about incinerators” – in other words scaremongering. Conservative Cllr Phil Thomas also said that ”the South London Waste Partnership will not have any of the things that we call incinerators”


Commenting on the accusations Shasha Khan said:


“I think it is fair to ask the Tory council for apology because this procurement contract shows that Croydon is calling for bids on incineration and refuse incinerator construction.


Ends


Notes:

[1] http://www.croydon.gov.uk/contents/departments/business/pdf/Ltwaste

[2] The numbers listed in the Common Procurement Vocabulary

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2008:074:0001:0375:EN:PDF

[3] http://www.ecomed.org.uk/content/IncineratorReport_v3.pdf

[4] http://noincineratorforcroydon.blogspot.com/2009/05/croydon-advertiser-publicises-issue.html


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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Photos and press cuttings from Sustainable Communities Act demo

Shasha Khan and Amelie Boleyn - highlight the emergency

Croham Road, South Croydon

Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath

Lower Addiscombe Road, Addiscombe

Online versions of story can be viewed here (Croydon Advertiser) and here (Croydon Guardian)

PRESS RELEASE – “ACT NOW!” Photo Opp.

For Release on Wednesday 1st July:

CROYDON SHOPKEEPERS AND LOCAL CAMPAIGNERS CALL ON CROYDON COUNCIL TO JOIN OTHER COUNCILS AND ‘OPT IN’ TO THE SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES ACT.

Croydon Green Party campaigners today stood alongside local shopkeepers in the north, centre and south of the borough (see locations and time below) in calling on this council to ‘opt in’ (1) to the Sustainable Communities Act (2). This Act, would give the council the opportunity to charge business rates on the car parks of out of town retail parks. The money that is collected could be given to shops on our local high streets in the form of a discount on their business rates. Local shops that have yellow lines or red routes outside their premises are presently disadvantaged.

This Act of parliament gives local communities the opportunity to improve the quality of life and social wellbeing in their local area.

Commenting on the council’s failure, Shasha Khan said:

“Having spoken to many shopkeepers over the last few weeks, I am now acutely aware that local shops – which define our communities - need support to get through this recession.

“Unfortunately, local shops can’t compete on a level playing field and this Act addresses the situation.

“We all realise the importance of thriving local communities with local shops and services. Thanks to this piece of legislation, which was championed by groups such as the National Federation of Postmasters and Help the Aged, councils can put forward proposals to government which assist the economic wellbeing of a community.

“However, time is running out for Croydon council to ‘opt in’. The London borough’s of Lambeth, Lewisham, Sutton and Kingston have joined the process and so should Croydon. 31st July is the deadline so today marks the start of the final month.

“The last time I spoke to a council official about the Act, I was told they were thinking about it.

“I am forever seeing Conservatives mourning the loss of local shops and post offices but I am beginning to think that these are just gestures. By not ‘opting in’ to this Act, Croydon Council will fail to help local businesses. The reality must be that Croydon Conservatives are signed up to the big business agenda and champion the unrestricted growth of supermarkets and cloned retail parks. Local shopkeepers regularly identify these developments as the main reason why they are closing down.

Green Party campaigner Amelie Boleyn added:

“We have started a petition because it gives worried customers an opportunity to express to the council how important local shops are for our communities. Croydon Council must act now so we can give more say to our communities”

Customers can sign the petition where they see the Croydon Council Act Now! posters. An online version is available at:

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/sustainable-communities.html

Three separate protests will be held in the north, centre and south of the borough on 1st July.

  • 10.30am outside Bouquet Florists 21-23 Croham Rd South Croydon, CR2 7PB
  • 11.15am outside Gibson Butchers 301 Lower Addiscombe Road, Croydon CR0 6RF
  • Midday outside Roberts Greengrocers 50 Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath, CR7 8RX

Ends

Notes:

(1) (2) http://www.localworks.org/




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Croydon Cyclestreets and other Open Tech

I spent yesterday at Open Tech 2009, a meeting of self confessed geeks who are interested in making society a better place, some pretty impressive activists, and even an ex government minister. The emphasis was on getting access to data to enable ordinary people to make better decisions about their own lives. At the core of this group are some of the people behind MySociety who have radically changed the way you can follow your MP in parliament. They are now being actively consulted by Parliament about how the expenses process can be made open and accountable.

You can follow your local MP via one of these links

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/malcolm_wicks/croydon_north

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/andrew_pelling/croydon_central

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/richard_ottaway/croydon_south

My Society have several other projects, some built with government funding, it is worth taking a look at them here http://www.mysociety.org/projects/

Beyond MySociety there are many other exciting projects being put together by small local groups. The one which caught my eye was Cyclestreets.net an initiative built by Cambridge Cycle Campaign using OpenStreetMap data. It is still in Beta at the moment, but it looks pretty useful. They have built some local sites already, including one for Croydon, http://croydon.cyclestreets.net/ so try it out.

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FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR