Sunday, December 30, 2012

Local Green Tracey Hague comments on the cuts


THE council wants to save £36 million over the next two years but has only labelled £3.7m of the proposals as cuts.

The Department of Adult Services, Health and Housing (DASHH) will be the hardest hit, with £11.149m of cuts and efficiencies.
Children’s  and family services are also affected, with £10.933m of savings and cutbacks.
Services which the council will cut between 2013 and 2015 include:
- Review and redesign of early intervention, family support and integrated youth services - £1.7m
- Axing two school improvement officers - £184,000
- Cut in care support budgets for older people, people with learning and physical disability and those with mental health problems - £150,000
- End Journeys youth service - £140,000
- Smaller contribution to Upper Norwood Joint Library - £114,000
- Reduction of council’s role in “facilitation of culture”, including reducing archive service to statutory minimum - £105,000
- Further reduction in payments to the voluntary sector - £80,000
- Reduction of funding for supplementary education, mentoring and community languages - £78,000
- Transfer or reduce 42 per cent of school crossing patrols - £42,000
- Reduction of tree planting and maintenance - £35,000
- Reduction of Safer Croydon Partnership Budget - £23,000
- Non maintenance (closure) of South Norwood Pitch & Putt - £20,000
- Removal of “under-used” football pitches - £12,000
- Less commissioning of domestic violence services - £20,000
- Reduction in park related costs (trees/sports equipment) - £10,000
- Reduced commissioning for youth counselling - £10,000


A little over half way into the current administration in Taberner House and it seems the Tories have lost the plot once again and sadly once again it’s the North of the borough and the environment which are losing out.
In the New Year residents face fines if they do not recycle (use their green and blue boxes), yet the locations for Christmas tree recycling number only 17 and many of the northern-most wards are not amongst them. Even my own ward in Addiscombe, where recycling rates are high, has lost its tree recycling point this year for some unknown reason. Looking at Your Croydon (available in libraries), there are even fewer recycling locations for Waste Electronic and Electrical Equipment (WEEE) which number (wait for it) just 5 in a borough of 24 wards.
Does the council seriously expect people to drive their tree to a neighbouring ward? For those (like me) who do not have a car or who can no longer drive (like my mother), are we seriously expected to drag a tree to a neighbouring ward? Although I belong to Zipcar (a car club which rents out cars by the hour or day), a real tree would surely drop most of its needles in the car and necessitate a lengthy (& costly) cleaning process. So anyone in the wards of Bensham Manor, Selhurst, Thornton Heath, West Thornton, Woodside, in some central wards like Fairfield and Fieldway, and even some more affluent wards in the South (where recycling rates are usually higher) Croham and Sanderstead will have to make alternative arrangements. Some dedicated people may make the effort and drive their recycling to a civic amenity site, but it is questionable whether the emissions and costs would see a net benefit. You could always try and carry a tree on a bus (but I wouldn’t hold your breath for a driver allowing you aboard!); at least when you get to the amenity site’s gates the staff have to take the tree off you and take it to the green waste container. You could also store your tree at home but you’d have to wait until April for kerbside green waste collections to resume, or spend hours cutting the tree into small enough pieces to fit in your food waste bin! Of course the most likely action is that trees will be dumped, either in bin liners in wheelie bins (destined for landfill) or worse fly-tipped somewhere. At least if it’s fly-tipped on council land the council will have to pick up the tab, so the council will end up paying for their short-sightedness or inconsideration for us residents who suffer their ill-conceived decisions. The reality is that the clean-up costs will merely be passed on to us, and services will be cut even further to ‘balance the books’.
If anyone is of a mind to protest peacefully, the option of civil disobedience is open to you. Maybe the New Year will see a sudden forest of spruces appear on the lawns of the Taberner House. Gandhi would be proud and it might cheer the place up in these grim times. Conveniently they would then be in one place for collection for recycling.
People expect the Green Party to be concerned about the environment but we also care about people. The people in the North of Croydon have been short-changed for years in terms of council service delivery. The 2 party duopoly in the council chamber has gone on for too long. The Green Party would ensure that council services are truly universal and that no-one misses out, that efficiencies aren’t confused with cuts and that common sense prevails over short-termism. Unmaintained park equipment will need replacing sooner and we’ve seen plenty of that in recent years; ask anyone who has used the play area in South Norwood Country Park in the last 5 years. Cuts to tree services are also unwise as our green spaces are something we hold dear; they are the lungs of our borough and never have they been me needed when we’ve got several areas where we fail the air quality regulations (such as around Beddington where the incinerator is planned). Also why does it cost £12,000 to remove some football pitches? The turf will still need mowing, but why can’t they be left for people to use? With an obesity epidemic and worries about the disaffected youth turning to crime, do we really want to discourage people from using parks? It’s about time the residents of Croydon had a council which thinks beyond the next election and of what is the right thing to do for decades hence. The Iroquai in Northern America make decisions based on the consequences 7 generations hence; this is something we should all aspire to. We only have one planet, one pair of lungs each, but plenty of residents who work hard (paid or unpaid) and deserve better…oh and who have a vote.
Of course there is always the possibility that the Tory administration has resigned itself to lose in 2014. With ever more cuts facing us for years to come (they’ve only just started!), they’ve gone beyond trimming fat and are now severing limbs. We’re now at the stage of cutting back to the bare statutory minimum, so where do we/they go from here? At least the Tories can say “we didn’t increase council tax”. Personally I’d rather pay a bit extra to get the services we need, want and deserve. The Tories wouldn’t have given up on re-election already, would they? I know what I’ll be asking Santa for this Yuletide and it’s not red or blue, but green.



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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Does money talk?

Cause


Effect
A table and pie chart (scanned from the The Guardian newspaper's report) - depicting last years income/expenditure for four political parties, and the results on November 29th. Just goes to show how well we did to get 3.5 per cent - and thus avoid the ignominy of being classed as an 'other'.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review of the Croydon North by election


Review of the Croydon North by election in the style of one-day cricket match report.
Shortly after the last the votes were counted, Lea Goddard, Head of elections and civic services, asked the candidates and agents to join him in Room 7 at Lanfranc school. It was here that he privately announced the results. My polling was called first 855, and then Marisha Ray’s 860. HOWL! Just six runs/votes short of a spectacular result. We are all proud that under great pressure from a high profile Respect candidate, our vote held up and actually increased by 1.5%

SHOT OF THE DAY

One of the more demoralising aspects of the election is the vast quantities of cash the established Westminster parties can draw upon to win the game. Leaflets were used to rotate the strike, but the cuts and pulls that reached the boundary were the mini outbound call centres deployed by the big two, Undoubtedly, in a winter election, telecanvassing is an effective form of campaigning.  I think UKIP’s Winston Mckenzie spent a lot cash too. He even opened a shop.

UKIP shop in South Norwood


Also, one must forget the big hitters involved in this election. Both ‘Don’t get in to frenzy vote Winston Mckenzie’ and ‘The real deal Lee Jasper” are larger than life characters, and in such circumstances it was right to play with Green Knight stroke. In an interview with Croydon TV I mentioned this.

Arguably, the most effective form of campaigning should be an independent assessment of the candidates in a hustings environment, and that came in the form of the Croydon Advertiser report on the Croydon North Decides debate.  


We decided to turn it into a leaflet. 

Final leaflet


When an independent observer identifies the Green Knight as the candidate that “impressed the most”, we must tell as many voters as possible!! I believe that our vote could have been squeezed had it not been for this leaflet. After reading the article, Caroline Allen [IslingtonGreen Party] asked what was the circulation of the paper in Croydon North. I replied not enough. Locals rely on the free paper for news. The Advertiser costs 65p.
BALL OF THE DAY
Choice of two:

At the Praise House hustings, Steve Reed got into a muddle when he was probed outside the off stump about his decision to cut youth services in Lambeth. Earlier at Croydon North Decides he played forward defensive, pointing to a cut in the government grant to local authorities. However, at Praise House he denied cutting jobs in youth services. He was accused of lying both at the event and on social media afterwards.

At the Potters House debate, a rather unusual question was directed at the panel: Have you been involved in any financial irregularities? At least, that was the gist of the question. The panel consisted of [in this order] me, Jasper, Stranack, Reed and Ray. We all answered no. Then the questioner rephrased and redirected the question towards Jasper. Understanding the premise,  Lee then gave an emotional response explaining how certain newspapers had hounded him to the levels where he was under great personal strain over allegations of financial wrongdoings. Essentially, Jasper picked the googly and played it back to the bowler.

HOWLER OF THE DAY
Choice of three:

When Steve Reed won the Labour selection, against the wishes of the majority of the councillors in the constituency, I wondered how traditional Labour voters from the Afro-Caribbean and Muslim communities would react if they knew he was gay. Of course, this should have no bearing or relevance, but it is well known that homosexuals suffer persecution, and in some cases prosecution, in some countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East.  

View from the panel @ The Potters House debate


At the PottersHouse debate Lee Jasper reminded the predominantly Afro-Caribeean  audience that he was a devout Christian, yet when the question of gay rights came up, Lee was asked to explain how equal rights could pad up alongside what the bible says. Jasper hit back with a typical passionate riposte, asserting that no form of discrimination should be tolerated, culminating in a call for the questioner to look at the panel before him, “Shasha is an Asian, I am black, Andy is disabled, Steve is gay and Marisha is a woman.” The moment he identified Steve as gay, the level of murmuring in the room was audible. I saw one woman ask the woman next to her, “Did he just say he was gay?”    
Running full pelt to the boundary to stop the ball going over the rope, Jasper fielded the ball and threw it back with such speed, he actually managed to run out Reed!
On the day of the election, many of us saw Respect posters on bus shelters, some very very near polling stations. If this didn’t constitute enough of a howler, what was worse was getting them removed. Apparently TFL had no real procedures in place to remove the posters speedily. Hence, some were up all day. 

Respect Poster on bus shelter


MAN OF THE DAY
 
Brendan, our local party treasurer, pointed out during the campaign that what we needed was a bunch of out of work activists to knock on doors. We simply didn’t have that luxury. Nearly all of us in Team Green Knight were working. In short, I must thank everyone who put in the hours outside their working hours, at times in freezing conditions, especially Bernice Golberg, for being my agent for the umpteenth time, Liam Fretwell, Nick Barnett, Gordon Ross, Caroline Russell, Barry Buttigieg, Eillen Gale and of course Brendan Walsh.  
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Friday, November 30, 2012

The 855

On behalf of all those in the local party here in Croydon, a big thank you for the 855 votes!


More soon


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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Final Day of Campaigning - Nov 28th

Candidates' log - star date: 28.11.12

6:30am - Outside Norwood Junction station handing out leaflets.

7.30am - Conservative AM Steve O'Connell arrives. We have a brief chat about Winston's  views on gay adoptions and how it would play out in the poll. We both thought he would get a boost in the polls. Steve tells me that he received an email only last night from a local member who has resigned because of  David Cameron's position on gay marriage.


7:45am - Full compliment of Tories are now outside Norwood Junction. I maintain prime position by the entrance. The Tories, in typical strategic fashion, have got every angle of approach to the station covered. Those approaching the station now have a Tory leaflet in their hands:




I bring a smile to the faces a number of commuters, on this cold morning, as I hold out the Green Knight leaflet:

 "Try this one instead, it tastes better," I tell them!

8:00am - Many are puzzled to the origin of the NORTH CROYDON NEWS leaflet, that is, until I tell them it's a Conservative party leaflet. Devoid of blue ink, and the word Conservative is used twice in the following manner:
Candidate Andy Stranack is "not a typical Conservative," and "not what you'd expect from an aspiring Conservative MP."

8:15am - A couple of commuters take issue with the above leaflet with the Tories [who additionally are not wearing rosettes], asking why they are pushing it as a non - partisan election newsletter rather than a Tory leaflet. Many of their leaflets are thrown in the bin.

8:30am - Head home for breakfast.

Respond to emails and communications at home, followed by lunch.

2:00pm - Start leafleting roads and putting posters up in shops. Thornton Heath High Street is saturated with party political posters.



3:00pm - I pop over to see a Green voting former anti-apartheid campaigner on Elm Road. I am saddened when she explains, fearing a Conservative MP for Croydon North, she voted tactically [via postal vote] and put a cross by Labour. She is saddened when I tell her the Labour candidate is a Blairite.

4:00pm - I start leafleting outside The Islamic Centre on Gillett Road  - not much of a positive reaction here. I have heard from a local shopkeeper they have been urged to vote Labour by the imam because in the past Labour helped them secure funding.

4:30pm - After a couple of other poster stops in shops, I start leafleting outside Thornton Heath station. An Afro-Caribbean woman with her daughter says she is definitely voting Green and takes a poster. She says she follows local news intently and was in no doubt who she was voting for when she saw the Green Knight leaflet come through her letterbox.. I give her a hug!

4:40pm - UKIP candidate Winston McKenzie arrives but decides to occupy the area between the station and Tesco.

4:50pm - A silver haired couple [below] exit the station and say hello to me. They say that I deserve to do well based on the Croydon Advertiser hustings, but tragically the likes of Respect and UKIP may poll better. The lady spots Winston who is slowly edging towards the station entrance. All of sudden the lady challenges Winston on his homophobic views! Winston leaves the area.

5:00pm - The lovely couple offer to help distribute leaflets!
 

5:05pm - The RESPECT battlebus arrives blaring out Bob Marley songs. Their activists join us in front of the station. Lee Jasper is amongst them.


5:06pm - The lady now turns her attention to the Respect activists and Lee Jasper, challenging them on Galloway's defence of Julian Assange. Language used is fruity, to say the least. To avoid a scene developing everyone calms down through persuasion.

5:15pm - I say thanks to our supporters and bid them fairwell.

5:30pm - I start cycling towards Norwood Junction,  I am due to meet Mick O'Sullivan there and a Green member who has just moved from Horsham.

5:45pm - Arrive and commence leafleting. Many commuters recognise me from the morning. I AM NOW FREEZING COLD!!!

6:00pm - A first time voter asks me questions about how to vote and policies. She says she's waiting for her boyfriend. Realising many of the issues we campaign on are important to her, she takes some leaflets and helps out.


6:30pm - Mick O'Sullivan arrives.

7:00pm - Head home, whilst continuing to stop to get posters affixed on shop windows.

[Checked my emails - the new Green member abandoned plans to come to Norwood Junction because of delays on the Southern railway]
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Green Party Leader visits Croydon


Natalie Bennett and The Green Knight!

Andrew Pelling in his capacity of Inside Croydon reporter interviewed Natalie


After meeting the good people of the Upper Norwood Library Campaign, Natalie and I spoke to several local shopkeepers.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Vote Green Knight





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Brendan's letter in the Croydon Guardian

Dear Editor 


Well done for your front page article last week, reminding us all that it is not just the incinerator fumes, but the increase in traffic (and diesel fumes) that will adversely affect the quality of life for those of us living downwind of the plant. Boris Johnson has said that the level of public opposition will be one of the factors which will guide his decision on whether or not to allow the incinerator to be built. The Stop the Incinerator campaigners urge you to send emails to Boris Johnson to show your opposition.


A vote for the Green Party at the Croydon North by-election would also send a strong message to Boris that the incinerator is against wishes of the people of Croydon. I urge your readers to use this opportunity to make your feelings known.



Brendan Walsh,
Thornton Heath.



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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

London's Green MEP comes to Croydon


Jean Lambert MEP and me

Jean came to visit the Communal Hall in the Queen's road development (Thornton Heath), where I am a trustee and secretary. Jean agreed to explore available EU funding sources to help support the hall.

Jean was also able to help with my campaign whist in Croydon.

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Monday, November 12, 2012

Election called and we're called into action



The Croydon Green party have been out and about in Croydon North this weekend, speaking to residents.
A group of members from the Croydon Green Party, including parliamentary candidate Shasha Khan, have been hearing from people living in South Norwood about how they feel on a wide range of issues, including the proposed Beddington Incinerator, the amount of rubbish on local streets and the fear about decreasing police numbers. 

Liam Fretwell, Media Officer for the Croydon Greens, said: “It’s great to be on the doorstep, hearing from real people with real concerns.  We’ve learned that there’s a real hunger in Croydon North for a change.”
He continued: “We were proud to be out there, cutting through the political bickering that has blighted Croydon politics for so long and getting right into the heart of what makes Croydon such a great place: the people who live there. The dissatisfaction residents of South Norwood are feeling, with both the Tory council and the Labour ward councillors – not to mention the choice of Labour candidate – is something we Greens are perfectly set to remedy. A Green MP on November 29th is exactly what Croydon needs and we can see now that amongst Croydon residents there’s real hope for a brighter future.”

The party will be out again repeatedly in the lead up to the by-election, which takes place on November 29th.   

Green Team! Liam Fretwell is far right
If you want to ask Green Party candidate Shasha Khan about any issues or concerns you may have, or if you just want a chat, please contact Shasha at shasha.khan@greenparty.org .uk alternatively you can follow us on Twitter  ( @croydongreens ) or like the ‘Shasha Khan for Croydon North’ Facebook Page.




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Monday, November 05, 2012

Revolution boys do it again!

One of my favourite TV shows at the moment is the 'The Revolution Will Be Televised' (TRWBT). These political pranksters remind me of Dennis Pennis. In my opinion, any programme that can highlight social injustices to a younger audience is doing a fantastic public service.

Just recently, I received an email from Dan Iles from the World Development Movement. This organisation has teamed up with TRWBT to fantastic effect. Please watch the video - link below.
Dear Croydon Green Party

The stars of BBC 3’s ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ are teaming up with World Development Movement to launch a new film today parodying Barclays’ role in speculating on food prices.

This hilarious spoof is meant to draw attention to the fact that Barclays is making profits of £500 million whilst speculating on food prices. This speculation is driving up the price of food in poor countries and drastically exacerbating world hunger.
Check out the 3 minute film: here

If you liked the film, please make sure to take action and send an email to George Osborne. Follow the link to see how.

We are trying to get as many people to watch and share this film as possible. If you could share this on facebook, twitter or email that would be fantastic.


World Development Movement is an anti-poverty campaign organisation that fights against the policies that make poor countries poor. If you want to find out more about our organisation or sign up to our e- news please visit our website: www.wdm.org.uk

Best wishes,

Dan

Dan Iles



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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Green Knight selected

Yesterday, the Returning Officer of our local party called the result of the vote to be selected as Green Party candidate in the forthcoming Croydon North by-election: I won!! Thank you to everyone who voted for me.




I've decided to publish my 300 word statement that accompanied the ballot papers:


A knowledgeable voter in Croydon North would be cynical of Members of Parliament and the governments they form. He or she would be keen on seeking out an alternative, especially as the convergence of the established Westminster parties and the death of ideological politics reduces the real value of their vote to practically nil. What further reduces the value of their vote is the fact that Croydon North is the safest Labour seat in London.

Hansard Society published the results of its annual audit of political engagement and declared that “indifference has hardened into something more significant, and disturbing.” Apathy is omnipresent.

Earlier this year a poll conducted by YouGov showed 62 per cent of the 5000 adults they surveyed felt that, “politicians tell lies all the time – you can’t believe a word they say.”

Step forward Croydon’s Green Knight! With such a backdrop, surely its time make use of the moniker I was nicknamed for my continued fight to improve the quality of life for the people in Croydon North, where I have lived for over 30 years.

My work in the area includes founding Friends of Thornton Heath Recreation Ground, working with local mums and dad’s to stop a mobile phone mast being erected outside a nursery in Selhurst, and campaigning to stop over-development in Upper Norwood.

Additionally, I am founder and Secretary of the Stop The Incinerator campaign and Trustee/Secretary of the Bensham Manor Communal Hall.

I have stood as the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Croydon North on two previous occasions.

Given the unique circumstances that surround  by-elections: the protest vote, the low turnout, the proximity of the next General Election, not forgetting the disillusioned 14 per cent who voted Lib Dem in 2010, I feel we can poll considerably more than creditable number....we could even win.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

TUC March - A future that works - October 20th


With Croydon North in mind, a sly look as we pass the House of Commons.
Jay, Gordon and me at Temple

Walking past 10 Downing St


The Green Party is set to take its place in a march to call for a better future for everyone – with two of its highest-profile members leading from the front.

Sutton & Croydon Green Party will be joining Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett and Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas on London’s streets on Saturday, joining thousands of others to demand A Future That Works.

Sutton & Croydon Green Party spokesperson Shasha Khan said: “The Government’s policies of cuts and privatisation are damaging the economy and hurting the most vulnerable in society. We need to build a more sustainable economy, create jobs and protect public services like the NHS and schools.“

The march has been organised by the Trades Union Congress, in protest against the Coalition government’s economic policies and to call for a new focus on investment to spark economic recovery.

The TUC, in common with the Green Party, opposes the government’s relentless cuts, which are reducing the state, slashing services, removing assistance from society’s most vulnerable and leaving a generation of talented young people unable to find work.

The policies are also failing to deliver the single achievement to which the government claims it is dedicated – cutting the UK’s economic deficit.
In fact, instead of reducing the deficit by 4.6 per cent as the government promised, nearly two and a half years of ‘austerity’ measures forced it to grow by 22 per cent between April and August.

Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett said: ‘We’re marching with hundreds of thousands of others to give the government the message that we have to invest in the future. The government can’t continue with its economically illiterate cuts. We must invest in decent homes, renewable energy, public services, public transport and the infrastructure we need to bring manufacturing back to Britain. We must restore food production systems within this country. All of these things are urgent, and need investment and planning to deliver.
This investment must be used to assist young people in finding fulfilling and worthwhile work. 

The Princes Trust has revealed that the number of young people in the UK out of work for more than two years has increased by 168 per cent since February 2008.
‘Our young people are doing all the right things to secure a job and future, but we’re not doing right by them.’

The march leaves Victoria Embankment at 11am, and will end with a rally at Hyde Park.

Under the Bridge by Red Hot Chilli Peppers
ENDS



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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Council are rubbish with their rubbish



Taken from Croydon Guardian 17.10.12



 


An excellent investigation by local Guardian reporter Andy Bloss has revealed that Croydon Council are putting recyclables into landfill bins at their main office (Taberner House). Tracey was invited to make comment on their splash. Apparently, Tracey's comment appears in today's Daily Telegraph!


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FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR