Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Flyer for local Green Party fundraiser


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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another letter re the Mobile Phone Mast

In response to this letter in the Croydon Guardian.

18.11.10

Dear Editor,

The First Past the Post method for electing councillors means that three quarters of Croydon’s councillors represent wards which won’t change hands for a generation, if ever. It would be contrary to human nature for councillors in these safe wards, such as Selhurst, not to get complacent because they essentially have a job for life. Regardless of Councillor Mansell’s view (Stop the unjustified scaremongering, Feedback, Nov 17th) on the health risks associated mobile phone technology and indeed my own view, which is one of precaution (recommendation from OFCOM web site), the fact remains that 500 households in the Selhurst ward are anxious about the mobile phone mast. Equally, parents whose children attend the two nurseries next to the approved site are also concerned. I would hazard a guess that if the margin of victory at the last election between Labour and the next placed party were only 500 votes then at the very least the councillors would have requested that the mobile phone operators give a presentation to allay the fears of the local people – something that I have now done.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party


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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Scenes in the council chamber.

Local democracy guru, John Cartwright, asked this written question (above) at the December 6th Full Council meeting. However, it was his cleverly worded supplementary which was met with howls of laughter and disdain:

"Will the leader of the Council take every opportunity to remind the people and the voters that Labour governments (and Labour councils) are almost always voted in by empty minds and voted out by empty pockets?"
Labour councillors weren't best pleased, especially when the Leader of the Council, Tory Mike Fisher, struggled to contain his amusement. The subsequent 'Point of Orders' almost used up the 15 minutes allocated to Public Questions. These scenes must have been an eye opener for the young people from Timebridge Youth Club. Welcome to Croydon Council.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

""EqIAs are at the heart of policy and decision making"

Well, Councillor Vidhi Mohan clearly states that Equality Impact Assessments are not going to be an 'afterthought' but at the centre of evidence based decision making. Its time to hold our collective breath.

I followed up with a supplementary question at the full council meeting on December 6th from the public gallery. I asked him about youth clubs given closing Timebridge is hardly going to enhance equality:

"Does the Council think its fair that young persons, youth workers, and support staff will be affected by the £1.5m in cuts in youth services given they had absolutely nothing to do with the financial deficit?"

He answered by saying firstly my supplementary had nothing to do with the original question. To which I shouted back "Yes it does." Then he mumbled something in audible amongst the low level noise. I asked local democracy guru, John Cartwright, via email if he heard the content of Councillor Mohan's reply:

"Unfortunately the acoustics in the council chamber are fairly bad most of the time, so its easy to lose track of what people are saying (especially if lots of councillors are shouting over each other at the same time) if one is not concentrating hard."

It does give the councillors an easy get out if they can hide behind the normal humdrum of a full council meeting. I did ask the council officers if his response was recorded but they replied, "No."
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Save Timebridge Youth Club


At the last full council meeting (December 6th) public sector workers protesting against the cuts were joined by staff and young people from Timebridge Youth Club in Fieldway ward. Its reported that 1000 young persons use the facility. In terms of economic factors Fieldway is the most poorest ward in Croydon. The guys photographed run a 'Training for Seniors' club at the centre.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Video of the student protests

I've been on plenty of demos but I have never seen scenes like this. Its clear to me that a lot more young people have been radicalised having been subjected to the highly controversial kettling strategy. Within seconds of arriving I filmed these scenes:



Or view here.
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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Campaign to save the six Croydon libraries


Picture take by Sue Hamilton

[06.12.10] Green South Norwood ward candidate Sue Hamilton (formerly Sue Ackon) and I joined Labour Party politicians, including Malcolm Wicks MP and the leader of the opposition Tony Newman, to demonstrate against the closure of South Norwood library. South Norwood library is one of upto six libraries earmarked for closure.

The Financial Summary in the Review of the Library Building network paper states:

The Council is considering different ways to make efficiencies. This paper proposes consultation on options for reducing the library building network budget in light of the Comprehensive Spending Review. If a decision were made to change the current service it could result in a reduction in spending of £98k- 664k. In addition it is estimated that there will be savings in the cyclical and responsive maintenance budgets of between £5k and £64k.
The six libraries (listed as Options) in the document are:

Option 1: Closure of Sanderstead Library
Option 2: Closure of Norbury Library
Option 3: Closure of Shirley Library
Option 4: Closure of Bradmore Green Library
Option 5: Closure of Broad Green Library
Option 6: Closure of South Norwood Library
Option 7: Do nothing

Councillor Tim Godfrey felt the doors would be permanently closed on all six libraries.

Libraries are important for social mobility. They offer free Internet access; a warm enclosed space for those that struggle to pay their heating bills, on bitterly cold days like yesterday; and of course books and newspapers. All are essential if you have lost your job, as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review, and are seeking to find work!

LINK TO CONSULTATION

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Monday, December 06, 2010

Incineration Obfuscation.


Following the fantastic news that the Planning Inspectorate concurred with Derby Council in refusing to grant permission for a waste incinerator masquerading as "Waste Treatment Facility" in Sinfin, Paul Pickering, Chair of Stop The Incinerator, asked the following question at Public Question Time:

"Is the Council aware of the Planning Inspectorate's rejection of a Waste Treatment Facility in Derby? The Inspector made specific reference to increased traffic volumes and questioned whether sufficient waste would be available for the 25 year life of the project. Do current plans for SLWP have any future?

The answer was given today. I sat with Chris Sciberras in the public gallery. We both struggled to understand the wording....Chris described it as a lesson in obfuscation. Quite.

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Thornton Heath Live

I was invited to comment on the launch of Thornton Heath Live, Croydon Guardian's new community news/noticeboard.

"A web site dedicated to local news, activities and events in Thornton Heath is fantastic idea. Thornton Heath is one of the most multicultural areas in the UK, and a web site dedicated to its unique population of 50,000 can help gel the sometimes-disparate communities together into one Thornton Heath community.

"Being a user generated web site, Thornton Heath Live has the added attraction of being community driven. It gives community groups that I am involved with a quick and easy way to get our forthcoming event or news story out into the public domain.

"When I first moved to Thornton Heath in 1982, I borrowed local history books from the library and found out about the area. This suburban district has a fascinating history of farms, ponds and public parks. It has evolved to becoming the most ethically diverse area in South London and Thornton Heath Live will give us an opportunity to celebrate this richness.

"Long Live Thornton Heath Live!"

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More Public Question Time answers



Responses to questions put forward by Muriel Passmore (Croham ward) and Chris Sciberras (Bensham Manor ward) on 18th October.

NB. "Croydon Council is committed to promoting sustainable transport"
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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Public Question Time from last month


Taken from written questions from members of the public - October 18th, 2010.

Above are the latest set of wondrous examples of backward defensive political strokeplay from our local government. The questions were bowled by Jim Clugston (New Addington ward candidate 2010) and myself. The responses we've been getting have been increasingly dismissive but nevertheless, I feel these replies need to be recorded.

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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Green Knight!

online version

Just a teeny bit of ribbing about the 'Green Knight' moniker, especially from former workmates in the Croydon Youth Service! My ex-colleagues have the spectre of the axe over them. The key point is this:

Did the young persons or the youth workers who will be affected by the £1.5 million slash in youth services contribute to the national debt in anyway??

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Robin Hood Tax


The letter from Councillor Maggie Mansell has reminded me that I still haven't received a reply from her about the Robin Hood Tax, at least a satisfactory reply.
______________________________________________________

Sent:
29 September 2010 08:37
To: Mansell, Maggie
Subject: Robin Hood Tax

Dear Maggie,

Hope you are well.

You might remember our conversation about the Robin Hood Tax at the Croydon Summer Festival (Mela day).

If Labour is a progressive party and not a party that will bend over backwards to accommodate the banks, why won't it adopt the Robin Hood Tax as party policy?

Many more international organisations now feel it is increasingly feasible. See the link below:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/sep/05/eu-imf-robin-hood-tax

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

______________________________________________________

On Fri, 1 Oct 2010 09:37:04 +0100, "Mansell, Maggie" wrote:

What is your stance on the NHS white paper?
Maggie

______________________________________________________

Sent: 08 October 2010 11:44
To: Mansell, Maggie
Subject: Robin Hood Tax

I think maybe you might have accidentally deleted part of your response to me. Can you explain why Labour won't support the Robin Hood Tax? By the way, the NHS white paper indicates how far this government will go with their destruction of our services. As you know, they are planning on full privatisation of NHS service across England, a move utterly opposed by us. Their agenda is hidden under the guise of Foundation hospitals and Social Enterprises.

Best wishes,

Shasha

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Labour Councllor Maggie Mansell radiates her views

From Croydon Guardian

Labour Councillor Maggie Mansell has now stepped in to suggest that I am, "whipping up fear of an unreal threat."

The reason I have taken it upon myself to discuss the mobile phone mast is because residents and parents of children at the pre-school have had no representation. I am almost certain that if any of the planning officers that approved the mast, or any of the councillors that have written about me had a similar application just yards from them, they too would have done one, or both, of these things:

  1. Lodge an objection and start a campaign to oppose the mast
  2. Ask the mobile phone operators to attend a public meeting to allay any health concerns the local people have.
The key point is this : From speaking to residents I know they aren't happy about it. Is it acceptable that no-one has bothered to reassure or advise the local people about the mast? Why didn't Maggie Mansell put her argument about radiation from the sun or her experiences in Selsdon on a leaflet and circulate it? One probable answer which I have continued to highlight in my correspondence is the fact that Selhurst ward, where the mast will be erected, is a safe Labour seat. If councillors are not looking over their shoulders in fear of losing their £10,200 annual salary, not including other increments, then it's almost human nature to become complacent OR in other words take voters for granted. N.B. there are THREE Labour councillors in Selhurst ward.

This video summarises what has happened:




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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Harris Academy discriminating?

As a co- founder of Croydon Save Our Schools, the Croydon Guardian invited me to comment on a letter Anthony Miller, Norbury, had received from Harris Academy Crystal Palace. In short, he was told that his daughter Idayah had been refused admission, but curiously they cited both her wheelchair and her academic ability in the letter.

My comments:

"There has always been a concern that some Academies are operating quotas limiting numbers of children with Special Education Needs. I have to say that I am surprised Harris Academy is not DDA compliant. Does this mean a disabled teacher who uses a wheelchair cannot apply for a job? What if an existing able-bodied pupil was suddenly wheelchair bound?

"The reference to “performance” as well as "corridors" in this letter suggests that maybe there are other reasons, possibly educational attainment, behind this decision. Yet, Harris claim they admit pupils from all levels of educational ability.

"One wonders if Harris Academy would have sent out such a letter if the applicant were a teenage Dr Stephen Hawking."


As reported in the Croydon Guardian (online version)

On Friday, this story gathered pace and I was asked to speak on BBC Radio London's Drivetime show.

BBC RADIO LONDON link - from 1hr 22 mins

The following morning I was told the story even appeared in the Evening Standard.

Harris Academy has now apologised for the insensitive letter but have still not offered Idayah a place. However, as Mr Miller [well done to him for taking a stand] correctly points out, he cannot approach the local authority to communicate his disappointment, instead he has to appeal to the Department of Education.

Arguably, the Harris Academies do admit pupils from all academic abilities. At a public meeting at then Haling Manor school, now Harris Academy Purley, Lord Harris told the audience that their entrance examination allows the school to band the applicants into eight academic groupings. What happens next is unclear. We simply don't know how many pupils are selected from the different bands as this is not disclosed, hence, I described this as "covert selection".

I consulted Jane Eades at the Anti Academies Alliance about this case. She recalled a pupil who used a wheelchair at a school she used to teach at. A tailored evacuation plan was drawn up for the pupil in the event of a fire. Additionally, she observed that both the wheelchair user and his fellow classmates mutually benefited from his attendance: they developed a greater understanding of each others needs. What-is-more, those that helped the wheelchair user get around the school seemed to experience a positive effect to their self esteem. We all know this feeling: do a good deed and you feel good about yourself.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Two further letters regarding the phone mast

These letters appeared in the Croydon Guardian on 10th November. Very kind of Jim Clugston to send a response too.

Text for my letter is below:

Dear Editor,

In response to my letter on Labour councillors taking their voters for granted in Selhurst, Councillor Gerry Ryan has offered sections of his ‘appointments diary’. I might remind him that the residents in the ward that he is elected to represent were against the now approved application to erect a mobile phone mast directly opposite one nursery and across the road from another, especially as the OFCOM report advises a precautionary approach to masts near schools. If Selhurst had an active residents’ association there would no doubt have been a coordinated campaign to oppose the mast. In the absence of such organisations, it is incumbent on our paid councillors to have a sense of duty to empower the residents. Therefore, are we to infer from Councillors Ryan’s letter that he and the other two Labour councillors were too busy to represent their anxious constituents? Alternatively, are the councillors safe in the knowledge they can do what takes their fancy trusting they can continue to take Labour voters in the safe seat of Selhurst for granted? Knocking on doors galvanising support for a campaign may not be as glamorous as having meetings in the town hall but it needs to be done.

Clearly the election he and his Labour colleagues most need to win is not the local council election, but in fact the ballot of forty odd Labour members who reside in Selhurst to win the nomination. Arguably, if we had proportional representation elected politicians would be compelled to be more active.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party


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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Finally, the council introduce cycle lane on St James Park


The council were first advised about this accident waiting to happen three years ago. Finally, they have put in the cycle lane to ensure traffic turning into this one way street (two way for cyclists) will be aware that cyclists may be in their blind spot. An island would have been preferred but certainly it's an improvement.

I sent out a press release earlier this year after the two year anniversary.

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Monday, November 15, 2010



Croyodon Alliance for Public Services website: http://www.stopcutsincroydon.com/

++

Mark Serwotka, leader of the PCS civil servants union will be speaking on Wednesday 17 November at a public meeting called by the Croydon Alliance for Public Services.

This is an important meeting as the civil service employs 5,000 in Croydon, and if planned cuts go through thousands of jobs will go.

The Borders Agency is already losing 800 jobs with another 2,500 will go over the next three years.

Croydon Council is also planning to cut 2,000 jobs.

The combined effect on the local economy could be devastating.

However trade unions in Croydon do not plan to taking this lying down and are standing up for public services.

To hear more or become involved please come to the public meeting:

7pm, Wednesday 17 November
Ruskin House
23 Coombe Road
London
CR0 1BD

Nearest station: East Croydon
Nearest tram stop: East Croydon or George Street
Buses: 60, 166, 312, 403, 407, 412, 455, 466, 468.
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Correspondence re Councillor Ryan's letter - Part one.

A few people have contacted me about Councillor Ryan's letter.
The first thing I want to make clear is that I am not singling out Councillor Ryan. The purpose of my letter was to point out that none of the three Selhurst Labour councillors did a thing about the proposed mobile phone mast. If Councillor Ryan feels, that I "have no realistic idea of how a political party works either in power or in opposition", then that says to me that he is completing missing the point. Yes a councillor must do the town hall politics, BUT he must also serve the residents who live in the ward that elected him, especially if there is no active resident association.
Big thanks to Paul Macey for his letter, and before anyone asks, it wasn't prompted - I had no idea he was going to send it in. It is quite humbling.
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Monday, November 08, 2010

On The Trams


This piece appeared in the Midweek Advertiser last month. In case you're wondering, this pic of was indeed taken on a tram!!
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Thursday, November 04, 2010

My council spends money on telling me what I know already.



In the face of a clampdown on 'Town Hall Pravdas', our 'innovative' council has already thought up new ways to remind us how wonderful they are.......

My FOI request:

Please can you advise how much the 'My Council....'
advertising campaign has cost.
Display advertisements appear all around the town.
I have attached an example (top photo was sent as an
attachment).






Dear Mr Khan,

Thank you for your email dated 23 September 2010 in which you have requested to be advised how much the 'My Council....' advertising campaign has cost. We have considered your request under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

We have conducted a search into our records and confirm we hold the information you have requested. Decaux boards are largely concentrated around the town centre, with a few in district centres. There are around 60 boards in total, with two sides to each board. One side is used free of charge by Croydon Council and the other by commercial advertising sold by JC Decaux.

The only costs incurred by the Council are for design and print. Total production costs this financial year for the “My Council” campaign have been £5,139.75 for six lots of posters which run for two-week periods. The “My Council” campaign was developed by the Local Government Authority on behalf of all councils, so substantial research and development costs have been paid for by them. The campaign seeks to increase public awareness of the wide range of services provided by the council, and to signpost the public to council departments for more information. Since the campaign began, it has contributed to an 8% increase in resident satisfaction through raising awareness of our frontline services.

If you are dissatisfied with the way the department has handled your request under the Freedom of Information Act you may ask for an internal review. You can do this by outlining the details of your complaint by either:

emailing us at information@croydon.gov.uk

faxing us on 020 8760 5661

writing FOI Complaints, London Borough of Croydon, Democratic & Legal Services, Croydon CR9 3JS

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF

Yours sincerely

James Derby

Corporate Solicitor

Legal & Democratic Services

London Borough of Croydon

Taberner House

Park Lane

CR9 3JS


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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Dent to plans to build an incinerator??


DEFRA has withdrawn the £113m in PFI credits allocated to the South London Waste Partnership. The money was meant for the successful waste contractor to build an incinerator to serve Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston.

This news first appeared on the Recycle Now web site

Croydon Guardian article

East London Lines article

Press Release:

Immediate.

Croydon Green Party responds to news that DEFRA has withdrawn PFI funding for the South London Waste Plan


Shasha Khan of the Croydon Green Party said

"Sadly, I don't think this means that plans for the incinerator are now at a standstill"

Continuing:

"We have to remember the SLWP procurement document stated the value of the waste contract to be worth £1billion. Even without PFI credits this is a relatively small dent to the profitability of the overall project, especially as the successful contractor has the scope to handle hazardous commercial waste and waste from councils outside the partnership."

Additionally,

"I am in no doubt those bidding to win the contract have built into their business plans a contingency for such an occurrence. Equally, the contract notice states SLWP reserves the right to source alternative funding, suggesting the Partnership had covered the project from such an eventuality."

Ends.

Notes:

http://www.croydon.gov.uk/contents/departments/business/pdf/Ltwaste
See page 6 of 16.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Councillor Gerry Ryan responds.



Councillor Gerry Ryan responds to my letter.




















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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Reaction to dispersal zone at the Rec

Comment given to Croydon Advertiser regarding the dispersal zone at the Rec.

New dispersal powers have certainly made a difference to Thornton Heath Recreation ground BUT unless they are part of wider strategy then I am not convinced perceptions of the park will permanently change.

Link here to online version


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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cuts in services - council lobby videos

Demonstrators lobbied the last council meeting. Greens were there in force.
The facts are that the Council is planning to cut upto one third of its workforce and to privatise many services. As many as 2000 jobs could go as the Council tries to cut its budget by £70 million over the next few years.







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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Letter on mobile phone masts



08.10.10

Dear Editor,

I was recently one of five hundred households to receive a letter from Croydon Council advising me of plans to erect a mobile phone mast outside Boulogne Road Recreation Ground. Despite an OFCOM report advising a precautionary approach to mobile phone masts around schools, the mobile phone operators have chosen a spot outside one nursery and across the road from another.

When I lodged an objection via the online planning portal I noticed that only four other objections had been registered. Yet when chatting with neighbours I became acutely aware that many people were very unhappy about this situation. Work commitments meant that I had limited time, nevertheless I notified your paper, organised a demo and collected signatures for a petition. However, a few days later I was dismayed to receive a letter saying that the application had been approved.

It is clear to me that if we had collected a thousand signatures we could have applied enough pressure on the council to throw out this application and ask the mobile phone operators to find an alternative location.

The area around Boulogne Road is not a hotbed of community activism: there is no active residents association on the scale of Spring Park, for example, and people around here seem to feel powerless. Hence, it is incumbent on Selhurst’s Labour councillors, who are paid to represent us, to ensure our views are not ignored. They would have known about this planning application but they did nothing - hardly surprising since they have been elected in a safe Labour ward and hence have a job for life. They can depend on habitual Labour voters to re-elect them regardless.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

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Friday, October 08, 2010

10km Stiletto Walk

10Km Stiletto Walk!

On Saturday 9 October, CCAT supporters will walk 10km in stilettos through central Croydon to raise money and awareness of our campaign to help the victims of human trafficking in Croydon.

We estimate it will take around 3 hours, or just a tiny proportion of the working day of a young woman forced to sleep with men, every day, week in, week out.

To get involved, or to sponsor our 10km stiletto walk go to:

www.theccat.com

Did you know?

Ø Croydon is one of the biggest 'ports' for human trafficking in the UK

Ø Over 2 million people are trafficked across international borders each year,

70 percent are female and 50 percent are children.

Ø The majority of these victims are forced into the commercial sex trade

Ø Human trafficking in the second largest source of illegal income worldwide

exceeded only by drugs trafficking

Help us free the slaves of human trafficking in our town!

Croydon Community Against Trafficking (CCAT) exists to raise awareness about human trafficking and encourage action against it.


Grace Onions, Green Party candidate in Waddon, has just forwarded me the above!
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Friday, October 01, 2010

A mobile phone mast to be erected adjacent to two nurseries.


Upon receiving a letter from the council about a proposed mobile phone mast around the corner, I decided to view the application online. The location map accompanying the application identifies the site as being opposite a pre-school and yards from a nursery.

There is evidence to suggest that mobile phone masts are safe. There is also some evidence to suggest the contrary. The Stewart Report which can be found on OFCOM's sitefinder website (an initiative recommended by the report) advises a 'precautionary approach', and has a section on base stations around schools. The report states:

We suggest therefore that a better approach would be to require that the beam of greatest RF intensity (see paragraph 4.32) from a macrocell base station sited within the grounds of a school should not be permitted to fall on any part of the school grounds or buildings without agreement from the school and parents.

Indeed some countries forbid the erection of base stations on sensitive locations, such as schools. Additionally, if a child uses a mobile phone whilst adjacent to a mobile phone mast then the power directed to the mobile phone from the mast is that much greater.

When considering all of the above I decided to lodge an objection and raise awareness of what was being proposed.

Comment sent to local papers:

"Mobile phone masts have become part of our cityscape. We all use mobile phones. Nevertheless, that should not mean masts can be erected almost anywhere, especially in front of two nurseries. The Stewart report that appears on OFCOM's web site recommends the precautionary principle until gaps in scientific knowledge are filled. That is why we feel the mobile phone operators should find an alternative location. However, to do this we need the Planning Committee to reject this application. The mums and dads and local residents urge them to throw it out"

Despite the objections I received this reply:

Dear Sir/Madam,


Application No:- 10/02698/DT Applicant:- Vodafone Ltd and Telefonica O2 UK Ltd

Details of Application: Erection of 11.5 metre high telecommunication mast with 6 antennas attached and ancillary equipment housing at: Boulogne Road Recreation Ground, Boulogne Road,
Croydon, CR0 2QT

With reference to the correspondence about the application described above, I write to inform you that the Council has reached the following decision on the proposal:

Decision: Approved

Please note that a schedule will be shown overleaf if any conditions/reasons or informatives are part of the decision.

Please quote the application number in any future correspondence.

Yours sincerely,

Rory Macleod
Head of Planning Control

I have since sent the comment below to the papers:

"This is a liberty too far. Given that the OFCOM' report advises a precautionary approach to mobile phone masts, especially around schools, I feel the council may have underestimated the risk. There is no doubt in my mind I could have collected 1000 signatures if I had the time. Sadly due to work commitments, I couldn't devote enough time to this campaign. If we had collected 1000 signatures for our petition, maybe then the council would have recognised the strength of feeling about this proposal.

"As usual the three Labour councillors have done nothing. They should be ashamed of themselves. They are paid to represent the residents in Selhurst but because they have been elected in a safe Labour ward they can sit back knowing they'll be re-elected in four years time. If they had come out to speak to the residents, as I did, they would have known the anger that everyone feels about this mast.

"It will be an absolutely tragedy if in the future we find the science behind the health effects of mobile phones and masts has been suppressed, as it was for cigarettes. It is important to remember that mobile phone operators contribute billions of pounds to the government through taxation every year. With that comes massive lobbying power.

"As I have only just received the council's response, I will seek advice and speak with the local residents and parents about what we should do next."

The Croydon Advertiser has been running a story about our campaign and today reported on the decision.

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Operation Refresh

Croydon Police have announced their latest initiative: Operation Refresh. Refresh focusses on the wards of Thornton Heath, Selhurst, Bensham Manor, Broad Green and West Thornton. A dedicated inspector, five sergeants and eighteen constables will be deployed in to this area which has experienced an increase in street robberies. A report by the Croydon Advertiser notes that the spike in street robberies corresponds with a decrease of similar crimes in the town centre. Whatismore, in what appears to be a combination of breathtaking spin and unrivalled diplomacy, the local Superintendent regards the new initiative as a response to the "high population and excellent transport links."

My comments were reported in the Croydon Advertiser (above) and here (online).

I gave a verbal comment and a written comment (below) to the newspaper

"Whilst I welcome an increase in visible police presence, I feel that Operation Refresh will fail to address the underlying issues and simply shift the problem elsewhere.
It appears that Operation Safe For All may have contributed to the increase in street robberies in the north of the borough, something which might have been easily predicted. I'm also concerned a zero tolerance approach could create tensions between the community and the police."

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Monday, September 20, 2010

New train line in Croydon

Link to online version with comment from Chris Sciberras.

At Saturday's local party meeting, Croydon Greens backed Chris Sciberras' take on the proposed BML2 line. On the surface it seems unusual that our local party would not be supporting another railway line. In principle we support increases in capacity for public transport - of course we do. However, it is a question of priorities.

Full comment from Chris :

Mainline Railway through Addiscombe

Network Rail plans to build a new mainline railway running from Sanderstead through Addiscombe to join up with the Elmers End to London Bridge line. This would form part of the proposed BML2, an alternative rail route from London to Brighton.

More rail capacity is definitely needed between London and Brighton due to congestion especially at East Croydon Station. Expanding public transport is also a Green party priority.

However, the proposals as they stand would mean reconstructing of part of the Croydon tram network, demolishing some houses and blighting the lives of thousands of Croydon residents especially in Addiscombe where a high level bridge would be built above the tram tracks.

Instead Croydon Green Party calls for improvements to expand the capacity of East Croydon by the addition of more platforms and a redesign of Windmill Junction to be priortised.

The BML2 proposals were unearthed by Chris Sciberras, transport spokesperson for Croydon Green Party, who passed the details on to the Croydon Advertiser. Chris added: ‘Surely Croydon Council should take an active role in planning Croydon’s future transport needs. With big decisions on the development of the East Croydon site due shortly, can we really afford to have a Council sleeping on the job?’

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thornton Heath Festival 2010

A montage from the recent Thornton Heath Festival. It can also be viewed here


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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Local media coverage

Meat Free Mondays in the Croydon Advertiser - originating from content posted here

Library opening in the Croydon Guardian - originating from content posted here

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Monday, September 06, 2010

Letter on MP Richard Ottoway's comments on the War in Afghanistan

The comment made by Croydon South MP Richard Ottoway, the new Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (see here), has triggered this letter from Gordon.


Dear Editor,


I was interested to read MP Richard Ottoway’s comments on the War in Afghanistan, describing it as “initially successful”.

With 1,300 Afghan civilians killed so far this year, and over 300 British troops killed since 2001; we have to ask ourselves, how can this be described as a success?

Is our military presence there making a bad situation worse? I believe so.

I’m not alone in thinking this; former generals and UN officials are among those calling for foreign forces to leave Afghanistan.

NATO air raids and missile strikes have killed and injured countless civilians. Our military presence is making things worse, not better. Every time NATO kills some more Afghan civilians, it fuels the insurgency, and makes us less safe in Britain.

Yes, it is a good thing that we drove the Taliban out of government, but what now?

It is understood that a purely military solution to this conflict is not possible.

We will have to have a political solution involving all parties in Afghanistan.

The sooner we pull or troops out and work for a regional peace conference the better.

Trying to impose our system of government and democracy on the Afghans is unrealistic and counter productive. Let the Afghans sort out their own affairs.

I would ask people to write to their MP ahead of the September 9th vote on Afghanistan, and urge them to vote for the immiediate withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.

Stop the War. Bring the troops home.


Yours faithfully, Gordon Ross



Croydon Green Party

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Diabetes in Croydon

Tracey Hague

20th Aug 2010:

Croydon Greens call for ‘Meat Free Mondays’ following diabetes documentary.

Following a shocking Channel 4 documentary on the diabetes Clinic at Mayday hospital (1), the Croydon Green Party is encouraging local schools to adopt ‘Meat Free Mondays’ to help slow down the spike in the number of cases of type 2 diabetes in young people.

The TV programme, shown on Monday 16th August, revealed that one in five patients being treated at the hospital has diabetes.

Meat products and dairy foods make up the greatest percentage of saturated fat in our diet, contributing significantly to the huge increases in obesity and adult onset diabetes, as well as heart disease and certain cancers.

A meat-centred diet contributes to deforestation, pollution, climate change, starvation and animal cruelty.

Tracey Hague (2), spokesperson for the Croydon Green Party, said:

“The NHS spends £1million every hour treating diabetes, using 10% of its annual budget. A new diabetic is being diagnosed every three minutes in the UK. These are startling statistics.

Tracey, who is The Vegan Society’s Croydon contact (3), went on to say:

“Most people do not eat enough fruit and veg. I support training courses on how to eat healthily for local children, aged three and upwards.

“Meat consumption is clearly too high, and children need to be introduced to meat free diets.

‘Meat Free Mondays’ is an initiative that the council should be promoting as part of healthy school meals programme.

“It appears that Croydon is on the verge of a diabetes epidemic. Instead of spending millions on drugs and other treatments, we should encourage everyone to eat a plant based diet. Prevention is always better than cure, healthwise, financially and for the sake of the planet’s precious resources.”

Ends

Notes
(1) http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-hospital/episode-guide/series-2/episode-4

(2) Tracey Hague stood as a Green Party candidate in Addsicombe ward in the 2010 local elections.

(3)http://www.vegansociety.com

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Letter on the areas that will face cuts

06.08.10

Dear Editor,

Councillor Sherwan Chaudhury’s letter on voluntary sector cuts states that most of the sufferers of this round of Tory cuts are “black and ethnic minority organizations based in the north of the borough ”. The reality is that the majority of those affected by this round of cuts reside in areas with Labour councillors. One can almost understand this Conservative council’s decision making: cut funding to those groups that are traditionally associated with Labour, and as long as we keep council tax rises at an absolute minimum, we can ensure our re-election in 2014. It will be tough, we will be unpopular, so let's give ourselves a payrise!

But let us not forget, two can play this game: When the leader of the Labour group was asked for a location for his proposed energy from waste plant, he suggested somewhere far south of the borough.

These tactics are a product of an outdated first past the post electoral system that returns elected dictatorships, keen to look after their supporters, of one shade or another.

An electoral system founded on proportional representation would be less divisive and ensure greater consensus can be reached, especially on these unpopular decisions. The present system is leading to social segregation and potential unrest, which in the long run will affect everyone living in the borough.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party


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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thornton Heath library officially re-opens

Montage of the event.

Although the library has been open for a couple of months now, the official opening (last week) gave local people an opportunity to meet and thank all those who delivered the refurbishment. We are already seeing the benefits of the eye-catching design through increased memberships. I'd like to thank the fellow members of Thornton Library Development Committee for playing their part.




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Standing up for what matters