Friday, October 31, 2008

Jean Lambert MEP meets Croydon shoppers!

Pictured: Gordon Ross, Shasha Khan, Jean Lambert MEP and Ms Swarovski
at the Eco Exhibitors Fair in the Whitgift Centre. A very successful event for us - loads of interest.
Shortly after this picture was taken we experienced a bizarre moment. In the box - which can be seen under the table - we had some spare leaflets and cotton bags that we were giving away. As I lifted the box from under the table to pack up the stall we were suddenly mobbed from all angles. The appearance of a stall closing down with only a handful of bags remaining, coupled with the fact we were in a shopping centre in an economic downturn.....AND WHOOSH all hell broke loose. It all happened so quickly we weren't able to put any leaflets in the bags :-(
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Monday, October 27, 2008

Urban roof gardening

One of the more insightful events within Croydon's EcoExpo was Croydon's 'garden in the sky'. Situated on level 6 of the 'Q' park in the heart of Croydon, this example of what can be achieved in the uber urban environment was very informative. The passionate and driven Paul Richens (Blue Dome Synergies) must have demonstrated the art of rooftop gardening to hundreds of adults and children over the passed week.
I got a chance to have a one to one demonstration as he was keen to convey the potential. Everything is possible: composting, organic herbs and vegetables and even wormeries. We talked about disappearing front gardens and the fact that council's do nothing to stop homeowners paving over their lawns to park their cars. Paul had an interesting take on this: if even the smallest of front gardens are going to be converted to drives then the homeowner should be required to use their roof or another part of their building to compensate for the resulting surface run off.
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Acting Borough Commander admits "halfway house" needs to be found on Knife Arches.

Last Thursday's public meeting in Thornton Heath convened by Croydon Police, Croydon Community Police Consultative Group and the council arguably turned out to be a different kind of meeting than everyone envisaged.

Firstly, those attending were told Borough Commander, Mark Gore, was on a course and was unable to attend the meeting . Apparently, Commander Gore has been promoted up the ranks of the Met Police. The new acting Borough Commander filled in for him. The council and the met police began by explaining the new 'Safe for All' campaign to Thornton Heath residents.

However, the meeting changed direction when I pointed out that racial profiling, when using 'stop and search' powers could only have a negative impact on confidence and trust within sections of the community. Black Caribbean councillor Louisa Woodley also made passionate a comment after a resident claimed that she saw a group of 'black teenagers' unfairly targeted in central Croydon.

I was also was able to use this opportunity to question the incredibly poor process of recording a 'stop and search', when using using 'knife arches'. Earlier this year I was 'stopped and searched' and asked to walk through a 'knife arch' at Thornton Heath station and instead of receiving a completed form I was given a piece of note paper with a reference number and told if I wanted to view a full record of this 'stop and search', I would have to present the reference number to the local police station within the next two weeks.

I am pleased to say the acting Borough Commander agreed that this type of streamlined processing was not acceptable . He indicated that this procedure had been brought in to ensure that commuters did not experience delays at transport interchanges. He admitted that it would be difficult to follow routine 'stop and search' procedures when using a 'knife arch' BUT he recognised the need for a 'halfway house'.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Letter on small businesses


Dear Editor,

I couldn’t agree more with the sentiments of Mr K Williams’ correspondence regarding the imminent closure of Turtles.

For so long Turtles has flown the flag for independent retailers in the town centre. I too wonder which clone town operator will now end up replacing them on Park Street.

There is no doubt that with the dark clouds of the economic slowdown looming on the horizon, Croydon’s independent retailers are going to be under pressure to maintain their presence on our parades. This was clear to me earlier this year when I knocked on a few shops to ask for sponsorship for a community event. I found that most were tightening their belts. I am particularly fearful for the borough’s convenience stores. Yet, we see in the news that the profits of some major supermarket chains are soaring. In times of uncertainty shoppers are flocking to where they perceive value to be had. In actual fact, convenience stores are competitive in many lines.

The reality is that the dominance that supermarkets have in the retail sphere threatens the very existence of convenience stores. The government doesn’t help the situation by proposing to remove the ‘need’ test when considering planning applications for more out of town superstores and the small ‘in town’ convenience format of the major supermarkets. I was shocked to see another one of these open up on London Road (near Mayday hospital) with no doubt more to follow.

What is needed is a complete overhaul of the local business tax system in favour of independent retailers. More often then not, their profits stay in Croydon rather than disappearing to remote corporate headquarters. Our local businesses need assistance to get through this period of economic uncertainty and beyond in order to thrive on the boroughs’ high streets and parades. Whenever and wherever possible we must all try and support them.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Footage from Indecent Exposure - part of Eco Expo

Well done to Susan and Jean Marie for organising the event.
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Monday, October 20, 2008

Eco Expo in Croydon

Last Friday (17th October) saw the private launch of the Eco Expo in Croydon at the Hilton Hotel; 10 days of stunning events which culminate in the commencement of a Climate Change Partnership in Croydon. Full credit must go the Environment & Sustainability Team at the council who are punching above their limited resources to change Croydon for good.

Tory councillors opened the event, followed by a presentation by TV presenter Oliver Heath. Awards were given out to the winners of the Eco Bags competition. A glamorous lady called Koreen won the over 19's design and Denny Gholami won the under 12's section, with his funky and simple design, 'Eco Bags Rule'.

The event also saw the opening of the Footprints Exhibition. A private reception of local artists’ work, "that will inspire us to take the necessary actions to move towards a sustainable future."

Unknown to me Mary Davey, Green Party candidate for Waddon in 2006, was exhibiting her work there! She explained to me that she deliberated for ages what she was going to draw and then she came up with the idea to remind us all about the disappearing bees.
Cynics would argue that Eco Expo is not really a genuine attempt by the Conservative council to promote the green agenda but merely tokenism to woo green voters. We shall have to wait and see - breath and holding are two words that spring to ones mind.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

EuroPEACE Network Reception

At the back end of last month I attended a reception for EuroPEACE 2 on behalf of Jean Lambert, London's Green MEP. EuroPEACE stands for European Project for Cultural and Ethnic Equality. EuroPEACE 1 ran from 2005-7.
The project is funded by EU Youth Programme Action 5. Essentially, the project tackles the problems of oppression and violence affecting young people due to cultural, religious, gender, race and sexual discrimination. The project is run in Bulgaria, The Netherlands, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia and the UK.

EuroPEACE was conceived by the excellent Pupil Parent Partnership (PPP) based in Acton, West London.

PPP experienced increasing levels of local violence linked to substance misuse, gang culture, and inter cultural violence. Young people’s feelings of fear, insecurity and disbelief were identified and explored at events organised in local neighbourhoods, thus creating a forum for those involved to share their experiences.

At the reception I had the opportunity to find out how representatives from the other five countries were tackling similar problems in their respective countries.
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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Is D112 the mystery artist behind the shadow men?

Last week the Croydon Advertiser contacted the Croydon Green Party regarding the shadow men that are appearing around the borough. The hunt for the wannabe Banksy renegade artist led them to the proverbial doorstep of peace and environmental groups in the borough. A correspondent on the web version of the article suggested that the artist was using these images to remind locals of what happened in Nagasaki and Hiroshima. The power of the nuclear bombs in 1945 left shadows of men, women and children burnt into the walls of buildings.
As it happens, one of our local members was advised that Croydon CND has used this method of street art in the past to remind us of the horror of nuclear weapons. The web version of the article has received comments from a certain D112 who claims to be the artist behind the images.
Come on then D112, if you read this tell us what the meaning is behind them? One thing is for certain with more disused buildings resulting from the credit crunch, you've got a lot more blank canvases.

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Standing up for what matters