Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Two distinct ways forward

Press cutting from Croydon Advertiser - Esther Sutton, landlady of the Green Dragon and Green Party candidate for Fairfield ward (2010 elections).


Meeting at the Oshwal Centre on London Road (mobile phone pic)

Reaction to the riot has been interesting to say the least. In a poll conducted by the Croydon Advertiser, 95 out of 100 feel that sentences aren't harsh enough!!!!

At a recent local party meeting (22nd August), Green Party member Esther Sutton conveyed her thoughts from the perspective of a business owner whose premises found itself in the middle of the riot zone. She also talked about what the Croydon Advertiser has dubbed the 'Window of Hope'. Hundreds of messages of hope and love for Croydon now appear on the pub's glass front.

Earlier on that evening, I went along to a meeting called by Malcolm Wicks - MP for Croydon North. It was very well attended, although I am uncertain to how many business owners who lost their livelihood were actually there. Inevitably, at least for the time I was there, it did turn into a forum for local people to vent their collective frustration both from the stage and the floor. There is a lot of anger. People need to be heard.

Malcolm gave a speech which caught the mood of the room. Why was the Borough Commander up at Scotland Yard on the night of the riot? Why was the pedestrianised zone protected by the police whereas the area north of West Croydon station left undefended? Just how many police officers were in Croydon that night - something he described as a "state secret" for the moment. In view of what has happened, the MP for Croydon North has correctly called for a full independent inquiry.

There were no representatives from the police or the council, apart Labour opposition councillors, which meant that a lot of questions remained answered.

As I left the packed meeting, a local resident, who left just after I did, told me that the meeting was a waste of time and Wicks was also a waste of time and that no one really feels the local area will change. For her, optimism appeared not to be the outcome of this meeting.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wisdom from the young...


Croydon Youth parliament have issued a statement on the recent unrest

Although there is no justification for the actions of the rioters in Croydon on the 8th of August, there must be an underlying issue behind this. It wasn't a coincidence that that these riots took place in deprived areas.

We acknowledge we are very fortunate to be living in this country, being taken care of, however somewhere something has gone wrong and a small minority of young people do not see a future for themselves and do not care about their communities. We do not condone looting, rioting, arson or violence and stress that this is no way to get a message across.

The suffering of local business and home owners will do nothing to achieve an aim. The actions of this very small minority only puts us back a step in trying to stop the discrimination against young people.

We feel there is a reason behind these riots and as a society we must recognise this and take responsibility for young people, to prevent this from happening again and restore hope in the future.

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Riots explained?


Croydon Green Party's recent statement on the riots pointed out that the reasons behind the riots were deep rooted and multifaceted. At our latest meeting, members formed a list of these factors, the idea being that if political parties failed to determine what the underlying causes for this unprecedented level of civil unrest in our borough, then what's to stop it happening again?

Members listed what they perceived to be reasons behind the riots. What quickly emerged was that some of the reasons behind the riots were more circumstantial and some were pre-disposing factors.

After much stimulating discussion, agreement was reached amongst members on what the predisposing factors behind the riots were:

  • INEQUALITY WITHIN THE BOROUGH
The south of the borough has a pockets of astounding affluence, including a pocket known as 'Millionaires Row', whereas some of the northern wards are the among the most socially deprived in London. More equal societies do not experience this type social unrest.

  • INEQUALITY/LACK OF (EMPLOYMENT) OPPORTUNITY AND A SENSE OF HELPLESSNESS FOR MANY YOUNG PEOPLE.
One of our members moved to the UK in 70s from Australia. He described how he wasn't aware of the concept of 'class' until he came to this country. In Australia he felt equal to everyone else.

  • OTHER SOCIAL CLASSES, EG THE POLITICAL CLASS OR TAX AVOIDING SUPER RICH GETTING AWAY WITH IT.
Bang Olufsen TV (value £4500) stolen by rioter in Manchester. Bang and Olfufsen TV (value £8865) claimed by MP for Manchester Gorton, Gerald Kaufman, on expenses.

  • A BREAKDOWN OF TRUST BETWEEN THE POLICE AND SECTIONS OF SOCIETY. STOP AND SEARCH IS A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR

  • MATERIALISM - THE STATUS DRIVEN CONSUMERIST SOCIETY WE LIVE IN

  • DISCONNECTION AND DISENGAGEMENT - NOBODY CARES ABOUT ME, WHY SHOULD I CARE ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE


There are also some enabling/circumstantial factors which led to the riots in Croydon as well:

  • OPPORTUNISM

  • CROWD BEHAVIOUR

  • SOCIAL NETWORKING THROUGH MOBILE TECHNOLOGY
One of members pointed out that 30 years ago rioters used CB radios.

  • INSUFFICIENT POLICE NUMBERS AND AN APPARENT STRATEGY TO ONLY PROTECT THE CHAIN STORES/BANKS IN THE PEDESTRIANISED ZONE


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dear BBC Newsquiz

Dear BBC Newsquiz,

The press cutting attached is from the Croydon Advertiser dated Friday August 19th.

I can't have been the only one to have noticed that, following the recent riots in Croydon, possibly the world's most famous independent furniture store, The House of Reeves, and by the way we're all thankful they are still trading, is having a special promotion on Fireside Chairs.

Kind Regards,

Shasha Khan
Croydon
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Placard success.

I recently received the above photo taken at UK UNCUT in Croydon. If memory serves me well, in the picture I am reading a text from a friend telling me that the placard is being tweeted about! It was a risqué placard BUT it captured the attention of many passers-by (of adult age) so much so, that shoppers were readily taking Anti Cuts/Tax Avoidance leaflets from me, wanting to find out more.

And no, I won't be proposing the 'motion' on the placard at Conference.
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News regarding Staples

Staples on Whitehorse Road, Croydon

Just round the corner from me is a Staples superstore - very handy for those last minute leaflets that need to be printed or photocopied. Speaking to staff outside the entrance the other day, one advised me the store is closed and won't re-open until mid to late September.

As we now are beginning to understand, upon seeing police lines positioned at the entrance to the pedestrianised zone, the opportunists, arsonists and muggers headed north up London Road towards the independent and ethnic stores WHICH WERE LEFT TO FEND FOR THEMSELVES. Some deviated towards the superstores on Whitehorse Road. Apparently, [unconfirmed] separate gangs arrived at the store to loot and set fire to it. Bizarrely, some stock has been recovered in the nearby Halfords and Tesco Express - also raided. The Croydon Advertiser lists individuals ( including their age and their home address) that have been charged with offences relating to Staples. One can see that a couple of those charged literally live a stone throw away from the store.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Police presence in the town centre

'On the night of the riots' - Cutting from Croydon Guardian

The number of police officers in Croydon is two and half times more than usual. Arguably, the increased police presence means that residents and shopkeepers have never felt safer in and around the town centre. Shoppers are never more than a minute away from a pair of bobbies on the beat. Last night, when shopping for provisions, I felt reassured enough to lean my push bike against a grocers window on Station Road. Normally I'd lock my bike up with a 'D lock' and chain! These are indeed strange times.
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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Reclaim the Streets

Letter from Ross Hemingway in the Croydon Guardian

Coincidently the headline on Ross' letter easily led to one think it was about the riots, especially as the front page had this image!
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What politicians said about the riots.

This press cutting is taken from Croydon Guardian - two days after the worst day of rioting in Croydon. The comment I made on behalf of the Croydon Green Party is taken from the official statement which appears here.

The council has started a web site offering assistance to businesses and residents affected by the riots.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

02 row goes on....

On the 22nd of July, the Croydon Advertiser reported on the latest exchanges between 02 and me. The press release which this stemmed from is here. Mrs SS Khan (my mother) coincidently appeared on page 17 of the same paper.
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Monday, August 15, 2011

Reeves Furniture shop

Its been a week since our eyes were glued to the 24 hours news channels, watching the London riot unfold before our eyes. And then suddenly the eyes of the world were on Croydon. The sight of the Reeves Furniture store blazing in the night sky was probably the most unbelievable for me. One part of their store has now been demolished (picture above). Today I heard that the Reeves family plan to rebulid the store. Good for them! In a town with identikit chain stores in abundance, Reeves was iconic. There's now even a web site organising financial assistance. We can only guess what Reeves and other businesses in a similar situation are going through. Trying to navigate an independent business through tough economic times is stressful enough. Having to then deal with your business - your livelyhood - burnt to the ground is simply unimaginable.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

The morning after the riots - a photo montage

Pics taken earlier this week.



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Friday, August 12, 2011

Queen Mary Road, Upper Norwood

Inadvertently stopping an SUV with Jenny Jones on Queen Mary Road - Spring 2006

On the eve of the 5th Crystal Palace Overground Festival, I've dug out a photo and the text from an old leaflet which relates to the good folk of Upper Norwood and Crystal Palace.

The residents of Queen Mary Road have fought for 15 years to find a solution to their narrow road dilemma. I remember speaking to Jenny Jones AM about the issue; she came to see the problem for herself back in 2006. She concluded that there were very few alternatives apart from turning the street into a one-way. We suggested alternative solutions as well, because turning a road into 'one way' can sometimes result in increases in average speeds. We submitted a petition to the authorities urging them to help the residents. So, in a way we helped win this battle!

Online version of 'Victory in 15-year battle to make street one-way'

Taken from a Green Party leaflet in FEBRUARY 2006:

The number of road rage incidents on Queen Mary Road are likely to increase, unless steps are taken to address the problem. Presently, due to the narrow width of the road and limited car parking spaces, vehicles driving through the road are finding it increasingly difficult to ‘tuck in’ to the side of the road in order for oncoming cars to proceed.

Residents living on Queen Mary Road have reported the issue to the Croydon Green Party.

The problem is all the more alarming if one considers that the number of cars on the roads has increased by 83 per cent since 1980* and is set to increase by a further 50 per cent over the next 20 years**.

Croydon Greens are keen to find a sustainable solution to the problem on Queen Mary Road and in other parts of Croydon. Firstly, it will help ease congestion, pollution and frustration. Secondly, it will help the UK meet its carbon emission targets. It’s important to bear in mind that traffic delays cost the country £15 billion a year***.

Here are three solutions:

· Install a passing zone on each side of the road.

  • Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ’s): These are parking restrictions.

This can make it easier for residents to park near their homes.

  • Explore the potential for a car sharing scheme.

Over the coming weekends, Green Party members will be asking Queen Mary Road residents if they have any other solutions, with a view to submitting proposals to the Transport and Streets department at the council.

* Department for Transport - Transport Trends 2004

** DEFRA

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gordon helps clean up Croydon

Green Party GLA candidate for Croydon and Sutton, Gordon Ross, sent me a text the morning after the night before saying, "Taking half day. Going to help with clean up in Croydon". A couple of hours later he was seen on BBC London News!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-14464299


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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New letter sent to local papers

Reeves family photographed in front of their smouldering furniture shop

As we all know, Croydon too was attacked by rioters, just hours after I posted. The following morning a new letter (below) was sent to the local papers. Green Party Mayoral candidate Jenny Jones has issued an excellently worded press statement on the riots.

9th August 2011

Dear Editor,

We are all feeling sadness, anger and disbelief of what has happened. Once the dust has settled, and order has been restored there needs to be some careful analysis of why this happened. The reasons for the riots are deep rooted and multifaceted. People aren’t born looters, thugs or muggers. Something has gone dreadfully wrong.

What is quite stark to me is if these rioters feel they haven’t got a future, then they would also feel they haven’t got anything to lose. This leads one to conclude the problem is inequality. Unequal countries like USA and the UK experience this type of social destruction, whereas countries where the gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ is not so wide do not.

One can argue that rising youth unemployment and the ever-increasing cost of further education and the closure of youth clubs do not help the situation.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party


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Monday, August 08, 2011

Letter regarding the riots

I sent the letter below to the local papers around midday today. Soon after, both the local Croydon Guardian and Advertiser web sites reported that Bright House and Best Buy shops had been targeted last night. And just now a LIVE UPDATE from the Croydon Guardian reports that Argos and Maplin have been vandalized.


8th August 2011

Dear Editor,

At time of writing, Croydon is yet to experience the scenes that we have all watched in horror unfold in Tottenham, Enfield and Brixton. There is no doubt the reasons for the riots are deep rooted and multifaceted.

However, one can argue that rising youth unemployment and the ever-increasing cost of further education does not help the situation. It is also interesting to note that the youth services budget was cut by 75 per cent in Tottenham.

A skilled youth worker is sometimes the only person that can reach out to a vulnerable teenager that sees only a path of criminality. As a former youth worker for Croydon Council, I could see first hand the importance of youth clubs. Moreover, I observed that youth clubs operate on scant budgets. Just to offer a slice of pizza was a stretch on the budgets of the managers. In order to build relationships with the most vulnerable teenagers, you have to encourage them into the club in the first place.

Forty-one youth workers are set to lose their jobs in Croydon, and a number of youth clubs are set to close. I hope this is not a recipe for disaster.


Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party



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Labour finally offer an explanation

Online version of this story here. Press release here.

The Croydon Advertiser managed to pull out an explanation, of sorts, from the local Labour leader on why Labour councillors failed to show up to a PUBLIC hearing regarding the South London Waste Plan (SLWP). I stress the word PUBLIC because it was a PUBLIC hearing.

Having earlier been silent on Twitter....

Croydon Greens @CroydonLabour Who represented you at last weeks hearing in last week?


.....Councillor Tony Newman responded by saying, "he hadn't received an invitation." Sigh.

The point is Councillor Newman, IT'S A PUBLIC HEARING; you don't need an invitation! There were two Merton opposition councillors who covered nearly all the sessions between them. They were certainly not invited. Members of the Green Party (remember we are not elected or paid to represent residents and constituents unlike Labour) attended, and some would argue managed to eek out an additional consultation stage simply by demonstrating and asking questions during recess periods.*

One of the administrators at the PUBLIC Hearing said to me, "Councillors [lead group or opposition] ought to attend because they will never learn how the Plan will affect them".

There are plenty of examples in Croydon of Labour taking their voters for granted. This must enter as an all time highest new entry.


*The SLWP Project Manager has sent out a communication saying:

1. At the public hearings into the South London Waste Plan in July, the boroughs proposed a number of changes to the document and, while it is not a statutory duty to consult on these changes, the boroughs consider, in the interests of fairness, residents and interested parties should have the opportunity to comment on the proposed changes.

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Thursday, August 04, 2011

South London to mirror North London

Just a couple of weeks ago, Haringey Lib Dem (opposition) councillor, Juliet Solomon, proposed the following *Motion at Council meeting. I don't have to possess the powers of Nostradamus to predict that in around 18 months time a similar motion will be proposed by the Tory opposition in Sutton that exposes the Lib Dem council's failures. Similarly, the Labour opposition in Croydon may even be looking forward to proposing such a motion in our own council, because for them, it might be the ticket to win back control of Croydons' Tory controlled council, especially as the crucial ward of Waddon will be downwind and adjacent to the most plausible site.


The above scenario may explain why not a single Labour councillor in Croydon attended the Public Hearing for the South London Waste Plan. I should add no Tory councillor attended either. This disgraceful situation has prompted a press release.



This Council is opposed:
  • To the use of the Pinkham Way site as an industrial scale waste plant, and
  • To the proposed relocation of Barnet Council’s waste lorry depot (which provides no advantages to Haringey’s residents)
This Council notes:
  • That there needs to be a long-term solution to the waste problem
  • The motion passed by the Muswell Hill, Fortis Green, Alexandra and Highgate Area Committee on 16th June 2011 against the proposals at Pinkham Way which said “That this Area Committee opposes the North London Waste Authority (NLWA) plans for a waste facility at Pinkham Way, and calls on the NLWA to drop the plans.”
  • Lynne Featherstone MP and local residents’ and residents’ groups campaigns against the plans for Pinkham Way

This Council deplores:
  • The secrecy with which the plan, proposal and change in land-use designations has been developed over the last two years
  • The lack of communication with residents and members by Haringey Council’s Labour representatives on the North London Waste Authority (NLWA)
  • Labour’s change of the land designation in November 2010, without wide consultation of local residents, which facilitated the progress of the Pinkham Way plans
  • The failure of Labour members on the NLWA to object to the Pinkham Way plans and represent the interests of our community
This Council is alarmed:
  • At the scale of the proposed development at Pinkham Way and likely impact on local residents and schools
This Council resolves:
  • That the Leader of the Council should write to the Chief Executive of the NLWA to express councillors’ concerns over the consultation and the lack of information provided to residents and to request the application be withdrawn
  • To ask current and past Haringey Council members of the NLWA to detail their role in the decision-making process on the Pinkham Way development
  • To reaffirm the ecological designation of Pinkham Way and provide the maximum protection
  • That contrary to the process involved with the waste plan and this proposal that the interests of residents become central to decision-making”.

* taken from http://pinkhamwayincinerator.blogspot.com
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Monday, August 01, 2011

UK Uncut comes to Croydon

Hats off to Nadine Houghton and Chris Whitrow from Stop Cuts in Croydon for organising the protest on Saturday. There was certainly a lot of tension in the air, emanating almost entirely from the huge number of police officers on hand to deal with any possible trouble. The protest was entirely peaceful and hugely enjoyable. Demonstrators were donned in NHS scrubs etc. I even knocked up a risqué placard. The email I received indicated the tone of the event:

WHAT TO BRING OR DO:

1) Arm yourself with placards, banners, leaflets, megaphones, or just your own voice.

2) Bring a small book, in case we decide to remind a tax-dodger how many libraries his unpaid taxes could keep open.

3) You may also want to wear scrubs or a doctor's coat, in case we want to remind a banker how many nurses his unearned bonus would pay for.

4) If you are under 18 or have children, bring games, a musical instrument or something to express yourself with, in case we decide to open up a Youth Centre in place of a bank.


Nadine and Chris got some excellent coverage in the paper on the issues surrounding the protest, and we managed to distribute thousands of postcard sized flyers to curious shoppers.


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FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR