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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FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR