Thursday, December 24, 2009

How to have a Green Christmas


At a time when countries around the world are trying thrash out a meaningful climate deal in Copenhagen, local Green Party candidates have put together a list of suggestions in order to have a Merry Christmas which doesn’t cost the earth.

Christmas Dinner:
Turkeys can’t fly very far but some have travelled a staggering 30,000 miles to get to dinner tables in this country! Shasha Khan commented, “It is important that shoppers look at labels on the food they purchase and choose the local option. European fowl and African vegetables can be forsaken for home farmed produce. Also try and support local shopkeepers.”

With 2.5m out of work and huge cuts and tax hikes around the corner, thousands of people risk placing themselves in financial trouble. Bernice Golberg said, “Why not try giving Secret Santa presents. If you do end up with unwanted presents why not sell or pass them on using web sites or Charity shops.”

Cards and wrapping paper:
Each year, 200,000 trees are cut down to supply the UK’s 1.7 billion Christmas Cards and enough wrapping paper is used to wrap the whole of the London Borough of Sutton. Hence, it important to reuse and recycle as much as possible. Why not use brightly coloured pages from magazines or newspapers?

Christmas tree:
Each year over 6 million trees are purchased. Look out for the council tree collections if you’re buying a real one. It is possible to save money and resources by using a tree with roots that can be reused. Shasha Khan added, “You can enjoy watching it grow all year round. The rent-a-tree concept has also been popular this year.”


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Labour councillor defects to the Tories in Croydon

My letter was a response to this news story in the Croydon Guardian.


Dear Editor,

I find it hard to believe that Bensham Manor Councillor Greta Sohoye’s reason for switching to the Tories is down to the local Labour leader’s treatment of ethnic minority councillors. Whatever the real reason, it does draw attention to the fact that the lines of distinction between Labour and the Conservatives are marginal, and how easy it is for one to defect to the other. Their ideas and policies are practically the same. That’s why some Conservatives regard Tony Blair as the greatest Tory leader they never had. Yet, voters who traditionally stick with Labour through custom and habit would never consider voting Conservative and vice-versa. Hence, these two parties have made politics not a battle of ideas, but a battle of personalities and presentation. Is it any wonder that people are turning off politics in droves? In fact, as the Green Party candidate in the Bensham Manor by-election in 2007, I recall how Labour shored up their core vote by urging their supporters to come out on polling day because there was a risk the Tories would sneak in. Yet through unbelievable circumstances, Bensham Manor has now ended up with a Conservative councillor. I could almost hear the collective sigh those voters let out when they read the news.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Croydon Green Party fundraiser - ALL WELCOME

Interest in Sunday's event is picking up nicely. Email if you are coming.
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Candlelight vigil outside East Croydon station

Thanks to Michael Howard (no not that one) of Croydon FoE for forwarding this picture. It was taken on Saturday (12th Dec) evening outside East Croydon station. Campaigners took part in a candlelight vigil calling for a real climate deal in Copenhagen. There were 3000 similar events across the world in 130 different countries. Members of Croydon Green Party, Croydon Greenpeace, Croydon Friends of the Earth and the omnipresent Andrew Pelling MP certainly caught the attention of commuters! Well done Grace Onions for organising the event.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

City Safe Havens through London Citizens

The 'City Safe Haven' scheme through London Citizens is now up and running. I went out with the Thornton Heath team to recruit shops to sign up to the scheme. Basically, shops that display the sticker offer their premises as a sanctuary to teenagers, or even adults, who might be feeling vulnerable, e.g., being followed.

There are 200 such 'safe havens' across London, with City Hall being the 200th one. Full marks to London Citizens for introducing such schemes which make London safer.

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Friends of Thornton Heath Recreation Ground event

Listen out for some quality carol singing this weekend on the streets of Thornton Heath
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Conservative party tactics exposed

My published response to Adam Kellet's letter is above (full text at the bottom of this post)

The Conservatives have resorted to dressing up their letters to the papers to make it appear that local residents feel that the Green Party is scaremongering. Adam Kellett is a Conservative candidate - something he chose not to disclose in his letter.

2006 Elections
Norbury ward

LabourMaggie Mansell2,434

Labour Shafi Khan 2,428

Labour Sherwan Chowdhury 2,333

Conservative Gloria Hutchens 1,751

Conservative Tirena Gunter 1,679

Conservative Adam Kellett 1,557

Liberal Democrat Leo Held 553

Green Michael O'Sullivan 511

Turnout 4,784 43.6%


Dear Editor,

The Conservative member Adam Kellett and I campaigned with other local residents to stop a development on Rylands Field back in 2004. Back then he recognised the link between environment and health. Regrettably, his letter regarding Croydon Council’s position on incineration is the real example of partisan electioneering.

Whilst this Conservative Council may well promise not to build an incinerator in Croydon, there are three arguments that suggest this position is false.

Firstly, whilst Labour has publically stated the location for the incinerator is Factory Lane, the Green Party has always maintained that the most plausible location for the incinerator is Beddington Lane. This is because the sewage works will be able to treat the toxic sludge that remains in the flue. Incidentally, Sutton Council has now stated that this is their preferred site, too. Beddington is just across the border which means Croydon will receive the harmful emissions from the incinerator.

Secondly, the technologies that are being touted to handle waste Londonwide are pyrolysis and gasification. These are discussed in the latest London Assembly report. In Europe the sites that burn waste using these technologies are known as Pyrolysis incinerators and Gasification incinerators. This may explain why the procurement contract which has been sent all across the European Union by Croydon council, calls for bids for ‘refuse incinerator construction’. Somehow in the UK the word incinerator has been deleted when describing these technologies publically.

Finally, what is worrying is that Labour, Conservative and the Lib Dems allow the market to dictate solutions on all manner of issues. Waste contractors are eager to incinerate hazardous waste and clinical waste in large scale sites because it fetches the highest price. However, market solutions do not consider environmental and social costs.

That is why the Green Party calls for a zero waste principle. It might not be achievable, but coupled with a comprehensive strategy to reduce, reuse, recycle and compost you eliminate the need to incinerate.

Yours sincerely,

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Croydon Council digging for oil in Wandle Park

Projected cuts in central government grants have forced Croydon Council accountants to think outside the box. Last Tuesday contractors were found even digging for oil.

Okay, what these guys are actually doing is surveying the culvert . The objective is to return the River Wandle to the surface of the park but data on the water levels is 10 years old. The reality is that it might not be feasible or cost effective.
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Riddlesdown School wind turbine letter to the papers

Dear All

I would like to register my concern and comment on the fact that the
Residents Association adjacent to Riddlesdown School has blocked the
installation of a wind turbine. This proposed installation has many
positive points and very few (if any) negative ones
*Teaches the children about renewable energy and our energy needs.
*May encourage some of them to go onto careers in energy generation and
sustainability. Sorely needed
*Reduces electricity costs for the school thus easing their budget
*Any excess produced goes to the National Grid
*Wind turbines take up very little land area.
*At the end of the turbines life decommissioning is very easy ie unbolt
it and it is as if it never existed. No pollution, no damage to the land unlike
nuclear power I would add.

Given our current energy situation (and the fact that energy has to be
produced to power our consumer lifestyle) I feel that the Residents
Association's attitude smacks of NIMBYism ie not in my back yard.
Renewables to my mind are the way forward and future generations need to be aware of
the choices. The local residents must use electricity in their lives and this has to be
generated somehow.
Perhaps they would prefer the future installation of coal fired or nuclear power stations
or noisy energy from waste plants? I know that I would prefer a wind turbine installation any
day in my local area. I would urge them to reconsider.

Yours Sincerely

J Clugston

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Park Vs Park in Croydon

Paul, Bill, Gwen and myself looking like the (green) Space Sentinels

Six out a shortlist of eighteen parks are up for a share of £1.5 million. This process of competing for vital funding is increasingly the modus operandi used by the authorities. On the surface it seems fair but the reality is the most needy might not be successful.

I must give a plug for Thornton Heath Recreation Ground. Having missed out to Wandle Park last year in the Mayor's Vote for a London park competition, through questionable circumstances, the park I am involved with really needs your vote.

Croydon Advertiser ran a feature on the competition a few weeks back. Cuttings are from that piece.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Academy tactics revealed


Dear Editor,

Ms McDonald’s experiences are exactly what our Croydon Save Our Schools campaign had been warning with regard to the forced takeover of Haling Manor by the Harris Federation (Pupils being forced to take easy subjects). Private sponsors of academies realise that there are three cheap ways to bump up their position on league tables. Firstly, use an entrance examination to filter out weaker pupils and offer places to a proportionately higher number of brighter pupils. Secondly, push children into taking BTECs instead of more difficult GCSE’s as these count as two GCSEs. Finally, exclude pupils that are deemed ‘problem kids’ as they will bring down your league table position. On this point, figures released by the government reveal that academies are permanently excluding twice as many pupils as state-funded secondary schools.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Jim's letter in the paper

Dear Sir, Madam

There are some people that still deny that Climate Change is happening now and that we need to take action to stave off the worst effects for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren and successive generations.

As a way of understanding it I use what I call "The Front Room" analogy. Imagine that your front room/living space is a closed environment (like the Earth) and that you have no other rooms. If you filled the room with toxic fumes, rubbish and lit a fire in the centre of the room you and your family would not survive for long.

This is the position all of us face as a result of human made climate change on earth. It is said that Europeans need three earths and Americans need five to continue their lifestyles BUT we all only have one to last us all!

I would ask everyone to please consider this and make small changes in their everyday lives such as recycling, less car journeys,
less flying, care in use of resources and so on.

We don't have to return to the cave just adjust to a low carbon economy and all generations can enjoy a full life with just a tiny effort.

Best wishes to all
J Clugston

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Croydon PCSO terror law letter

Linked to this article.


Dear Editor,

As a member of a Safer Neighbourhood Team ward panel I see the good work that PCSO’s do in terms of youth engagement in schools. However, upon reading figures your paper has obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, I am concerned that the benefits of this work are being undone. Like many, I was under the impression that PCSO’s did not have stop and search powers. So to find out that they have used this exceptional power 620 times in Croydon in 2008 under the Terrorism Act is nothing short of alarming. The Met Police maintain that stop and searches are intelligence-led, and rightly so, but I am afraid these figures smack of search under suspicion which can only adversely affect community relations.
The government continuously tells us that the Afghan war effort keeps our streets safe. Your report indicates a year upon year increase of usage of these powers and a mind boggling 62,000 per cent increase in stop and searches since 2004. Clearly one does not equate with the other.
Croydon already has more surveillance cameras than the whole of New York, and these stop and search revelations - coupled with the fact that armed police now patrol the streets of London to tackle gang crime - suggests that the direction of travel is towards a police state.
Should we not instead tackle the causes of terrorism and gang crime? Respectively, stop fighting unwinnable wars which act as recruiting sergeants for terrorist organisations, and address the sense of belonging, status, personal safety and peer pressure issues that push our young people to join gangs.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thornton Heath Library Redevelopment

Being part of the steering group to redevelop Thornton Heath library has been one of the more straightforward projects I have been involved in. Aileen Cahill and Chris Carey have been very competent project managers. Work is due to be completed in April 2010. Below is the latest update:

Programme Update.

The project seems to be on schedule, and there are visible signs of progress on the outside of the building. The stone work has been cleaned and looks as new, and openings have been created on the right hand side for the front glass pavilion to be attached. The side extensions, housing the lift & staircase, and the ICT suite and staff quarters respectively, are going up, and can be seen especially from the rear car park. Electrical work continues at pace.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Andrew Pelling MP dominating letters page

A selection of letters over the last few weeks

A couple of local residents have mentioned the dominance of Andrew Pelling related letters appearing in the local papers. A week doesn't seem to go by without one or two letters discussing the virtues of the MP for Croydon Central. There is little doubt he will stand as an independent in the next election even though he is still a Conservative Party member. The politics of his standing is intriguing:

  1. His success is dependent on the independent brand, which is becoming increasingly attractive to the electorate. Roy Hattersley said the independents' rallying call is, "Vote for me for who I am", but what do they stand for??
  2. He is a well known constituency MP with a band of dedicated supporters, mostly from within the Conservative party, who continue to write into the local papers. Surely, they are not planning to maintain this level of output right the way through to May 2010??
  3. Labour are no doubt rejoicing that he is standing as he will split the Conservative vote and allow their candidate Gerry Ryan to sneak in. Croydon Labour must cheer every pro-Pelling letter that appears in the paper.
  4. The Conservatives are in a tricky position because he is a Tory! What are they supposed to do? They can't criticise his voting record and they wouldn't dare discuss his arrest in 2007.
  5. Many people will remember Andrew Pelling's last minute leaflet designed for the BNP areas of Fieldway and New Addington back in 2005. The then incumbent Labour MP Geraint Davies showed me the leaflet at the hustings at Croydon College. I remember seeing a picture of Andrew Pelling cuddling a pit bull! The whole leaflet was designed to attract the 'narrow minded' vote. Geraint was absolutely livid.
  6. He has attended all the recent Greenpeace or Friends of the Earth demo's, yet at the launch of the Croydon Environmental Network he said he favoured airport expansion albeit not at Heathrow.
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Monday, November 09, 2009

"Heated issue reignited"

Very interesting to see Adam Kellett writing in..... He is a Conservative party member and was a candidate in Norbury ward back in 2006. The Tories seem to have adopted a new approach of making it look like residents are appalled by the apparent 'scaremongering'. Syd Cheeswright only succeeds in reaffirming the lack of public debate on this issue.
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Friday, November 06, 2009

Veggie Fayre in Croydon

The Environment Panel. I've just realised I've got a missed call from Caroline Allen

Croydon's number 1 food campaigner, Tony Bishop Weston, is 'Five a Day' man!

Barry, Shasha and Danni on the stall

Last Sunday's Veggie Fayre in Croydon, YES CROYDON, was a scrummy treat! Lots of food stalls including the Green Dragon who kindly shared their stall space with Croydon Green Party.

The Environment Panel consisted of:

Chantal Cooke - Director of Passion for the Planet,
Ruth Andrade - Press officer for Lush
Michael Howard - Friends of the Earth
Shasha Khan - Green Party.

The Q and A session that got us all thinking. It was probably the first question time type event where I was preaching to the converted. Thanks to Caroline Allen for coming down from Hackney to take part in the Animal Welfare panel.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

London's Biggest Conversation tackles 'Green Beliefs' ruling

LBC: the radio station originally known as the London Broadcasting Company, now recognised as London's Biggest Conversation. I sometimes refer to it as London Bigots Conversation as it attracts some small minded callers. The presenters also take a stance to provoke reaction, mostly - from what I have listened to - from the right of centre perspective. Having said that, Ken Livingstone presents a show on Saturday mornings.

The night before last I fell asleep listening to LBC. As a result, yesterday morning I woke up to a Vitriolic Nick Ferrari discussing a story that a judge had ruled that green beliefs deserve the same protection in the workplace as religion. It was bound to rile the listeners. Green London Assembly member Jenny Jones was interviewed on the show to give weight to Mr Justice Burton's decision. Jenny managed to articulate how Greens (big G) feel when we see wanton disregard for green (small g) issues.

This seemed to be followed by a volley of callers who could at best be described as Climate Change sceptics.

I felt compelled to fire up the computer and go online and email the show with the following:

Do you or your listeners believe the planet has enough resources to provide for the predicted population in 2050? If everyone wants to live like an American we need four planets; An European three planets. Given the levels of economic growth in India, China and Brazil, can a business as usual approach seriously work? We're already going to war for resources…remember Iraq? I bet you don’t read this out.


Shasha Khan

I have emailed James O'Brien's show in the past but with no success. UNBELIEVABLY - because I simply wasn't expecting it - Vitriolic Nick read out my email within minutes. He omitted the last sentence though. Okay I lost the bet!

There is a bite size version of the show available here
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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Market theory closed down public discourse about injustice

Here is Madeleine Buntings much talked about piece

Madeleine Bunting’s comment was relief to read. I have passed the piece to others in a hope to stimulate thought. The reality is that market based decisions do not take into consideration social and environmental costs. Political leadership needs to be creative and visionary to counter the levels of injustice so many of us feel and experience. Electorally, it seems only the Green Party recognises that the success of a society cannot be measured by GDP, but should take account of factors affecting the quality of life for all people: personal freedom, social equity, health, happiness and human fulfillment. In fact, it is one of the ten core principles of the Green Party.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Police oversee 'heated' talks

Linked to blog post here
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Park Vs Park in Croydon

It seems Thornton Heath Recreation Ground is in battle again for money. Hopefully, we won't be stung by the council once again:

Taken from our summer2009 leaflet:
More evidence on how Thornton Heath Recreation Ground is being neglected by the council was seen in the Help a London Park vote organised by the Mayors Office. Members of the Friends
of Thornton Heath Recreation Ground, of which Shasha Khan is co-founder, pressed local residents to vote for the park. Unbelievably, the Chief Executive for the council emailed all council employees, to ask them to support the Wandle Park bid.
It was left to the Green Party to challenge this sharp practice. Green Party London Assembly member Darren Johnson, wrote to London Mayor Boris Johnson for an explanation. Thanks to this intervention, the Mayor recognised the potential embarrassment and offered help in finding other sources of funding.

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Democracy stifled at local meeting

Last week's Broad Green and Waddon Neighbourhood Partnership meeting was nothing more than a forum for the South London Waste Plan (SLWP) to peddle their CONsensus (Not CONsultation) on the incinerator.
The SLWP agenda item was moved up the list (from 8 to 6). We realised afterwards that this had been done so that the police were still around (after their presentation) as it was assumed the debate would be heated. Is this a proper use of police time? Those attending were specifically warned that people ran the risk of ejection from the meeting should there be any deviance from accepted protocol!
Unlike any other discussion at the meeting, those who were permitted to ask a question were asked to state their address before posing their question.
I did put my hand up but the Chair, Syd Cheeswright, ignored he said he would do.

A few weeks back, I was invited to the Agenda setting meeting by the Vice Chair of the Neighbourhood Partnership (NP) with a view to making a contribution at the next meeting because the SLWP was provisionally an agenda item. Mr Cheeswright listened to what I had to say but said I had gone too far when I started talking about the Stop The Incinerator campaign. Essentially, I wasn't allowed to be political. After deliberation with others present, including a Tory councillor, I was allowed to submit a text of no more than 200 words (see end) to the Chair for the consideration. Initially, I though I would be allowed to read the text.

You can see from the letter that it was rejected even though I basically regurgitated what I said at the meeting on to paper.

On the day, Andy Day Planning Officer at the council, made a presentation along with SLWP Project Manager Emma Smyth. She originally was not scheduled to speak. Arguably, she came along after it became apparent that concerned residents who understood the motivations of the SLWP could be in attendance. Additionally, as Mr Day and Ms Smyth were both making presentations, the opportunity to scrutinise afterwards would be further limited by time. Andy Day actually emailed me earlier in the afternoon to say:

I have been given notice of some questions that might be raised at the Broad Green and Waddon Neighbourhood Partnership meeting to be held this Wednesday. I am aware that you have had previous discussions with Emma Smyth (Project Officer - JWPDPD) on the same subject and as I understand it those of us working on the Waste Plan have been consistent in advising that it is not the purpose of the Plan to address particular technologies. It follows that we will not be responding to the questions you raise.

At the meeting, Dave Pettener, who lives in Waddon ward, did manage to ask, how he was supposed to contribute to a consultation when he wasn't given any relevant data or accurate information to make a proper judgement. However, with regard to the response: obfuscation was the order of the day. Only two other residents were allowed to ask questions.

Extraordinarily, Tory Cllr Clare Hilley shouted out, "Who the hell are you?" when Mr Pettener offered to leave his written objections on the table by the exit - alongside SLWP handouts.

What this whole episode does is portray a classic tactic of the authorities: Limit the platform that objectors may have to convey their arguments; Marginalise those that want to raise objections; Intimidate objectors with a police presence at a public meeting to give the impression that these activists somehow threaten order. Hopefully, this in turn will deter them from future action. Actually it does the opposite.

200 word text submitted and subsequently rejected by the Chair:

The government has passed EU waste reduction targets to councils under the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) which is a kind of landfill credit system, except these credits cost councils millions of pounds. This coupled with increasing landfill prices means that councils are scrambling to find alternative ways to deal with rubbish.
One way to deal with the rubbish is to burn it but incinerators are unpopular. They waste resources, release greenhouse gases and are a danger to human health. However, the EU gave authorities a get out of jail card. It decided to rebrand incinerators as ‘energy from waste plants’ – which has an environmentally friendly ring to it. Also, Waste industry consultants are pushing for this solution and councils are attracted to it because it is less complex than a reduce, reuse, recycle and compost strategy which minimizes waste.
The most plausible location for such a site is Beddington Lane – now confirmed as Sutton council’s preferred site. Because prevailing winds blow from the south west, it will be the disadvantaged western wards in the top half of Croydon that will be affected.
Last Autumns consultation which was hardly publicized. However, thanks to leading questions in the questionnaire, the procurement process was triggered. So now this juggernaut will be difficult to stop.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Andy Pag in Asia

Pleasant surprise to find Thornton Heath environmentalist Andy Pag on page 12 of The Observer. His Chip-fat bus is nestled to the side of the beach ball goal.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Leaflet sparks incinerator row

I've just picked up this article which appeared in the Croydon Advertiser (page 2) a couple of weeks ago. It originated from this post.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

23 years later Coun Jason Perry spokesperson for the authority once again

In 1986 a younger version of Shasha Khan (aged 14) attended Purley High School For Boys.
Purley Boys had the look and feel of a grammar or public school but was in fact a comprehensive. Giant honours boards adorned the walls of its main hall. The elderly headmaster, Mr Akers, was a no-nonsense strict disciplinarian. His appointed prefects were selected for their abilty to mete out the schools' punitive measures. The cane was a popular option. Records show that in the 70's nearly half the pupils who attended the school got the cane!
The head prefect/head boy was Jason Perry. He stood to the left of the headmaster during assembly each morning, up on the stage like a lieutenant monitoring his regiment.
23 years on, I am again being monitored by Jason Perry. This time he is the Conservative cabinet member for Planning and Conservation and de facto spokesperson for the the councils' incinerator plans, and I am the Green Party activist who is the bothersome individual who is raising awareness of his plan. I know he doesn't remember me from those days at Purley Boys as I was a well-behaved pupil scared of authority!
Recently, we've been having a minor spat about the incinerator in the media. In response to his letter to the Croydon Guardian, querying the need for Stop The Incinerator campaign, I sent in the letter below which was published this week.


Dear Editor,

Does this Conservative Council think that we were all born yesterday? Three weeks ago Sutton Council, publically stated that their preferred site for the incinerator was Beddington Lane, a couple hundred yards across the border in Sutton. Unless the council has found a technology to prevent emissions from entering Croydon airspace, the area that will be affected will be the wards downwind from the site; i.e. north Croydon. Cllrs Perry and Thomas only succeed in embarrassing themselves when they say, “there are no plans for an incinerator in Croydon.”

The Green Party has always stated the most plausible location for an incinerator is Beddington Lane and never sought to scaremonger. We have been proved right before when we obtained the procurement contract asking for bids for ‘refuse incinerator construction’ and right again on location. Would the Tory council accuse the Conservative candidate for Carshalton and Wallington, Ken Andrew, for scaremongering? He has publically stated he opposes the scheme. I do however agree with the councillors over Labour’s antics. Claiming to have a found a document that the Tories want to build an incinerator in Factory Lane is outrageous to the extreme. In fact Croydon Labour’s position looks increasingly ridiculous given that the Labour government forced an incinerator on the people of Bexley in 2006, against the wishes of the Conservative councillors in the area!!

What this whole sorry episode is beginning to uncover, just like many other issues before it, is the complete lack of principle shown by the Labour and Conservative parties. They are tying themselves up in political knots and falling over themselves trying to maximise gain or minimise loss on this issue. In fact, the only principle on view is: the market will deliver. However, private contractors are not going to consider social and environmental costs when calculating their bottom line. That is why the Green Party says government must intervene to ensure a sustainable and fair solution. The principle of reduce, reuse, recycle and compost must prevail which is why the Stop The Incinerator campaign was launched.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Opinion piece for Operation Black Vote

Link to OBV blog post

Whilst staffing the Green Party stall at last months Thornton Heath Festival I was reminded just how many local authorities are keen to put on a party to celebrate the multi cultural nature of their borough. However, they appear much less inclined to consider the very same residents in decisions that inherently impact on the quality of their lives.

Here in Croydon the debate surrounding the South London Waste Plan is a case in point. For a year now I have been spending too much time learning about thermal treatment technologies associated with incineration such as gasification, pyrolysis and plasma arc. I can tell your eyes are already glazing over and your forefinger is primed to click on another link…but wait..if you live in south London this will impact on you! The emissions from an incinerator are associated with cancer, lung disease, kidney disease and birth defects! Thus the reason for my new found interest.

An EU Landfill Directive requires national governments to reduce the level of biodegradable municipal waste sent to landfill by 2020. The government has passed these targets to councils under the Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme (LATS) which is a kind of landfill credit system, except these credits cost councils millions of pounds. Suddenly councils need to find ways to reduce the amount biodegradable waste they send to landfill otherwise they will have to cut services or increase council tax. Here in South London four borough councils - Sutton, Kingston, Merton and Croydon - with a combined population of well over one million have pooled together to form the South London Waste Partnership.

The problem is the EU gave authorities a get out of jail card. It decided to rebrand incinerators as ‘energy from waste plants’, voted for by Labour and Conservative MEP’s, which opened the door for waste companies to make money from burning waste – all waste. Hence what was originally a method to tackle landfill and greenhouse gas emissions has now become a ticket to burn waste and make lots of money whilst doing so. Private contractors are signing 25 or 35 year deals when they build these waste disposal sites, locking councils into providing a continued waste stream.

There are dozens of schemes cropping up all over the country opposing the new generation of incinerators because they depress waste resources, release twice as much CO2 as a coal fired power station and most importantly are a danger to human health. Given the aforementioned combination of health jeopardy, hands up who wants to live next to such a site? Not me I hear you cry! Locally, we have founded the Stop the Incinerator campaign.

But, what if you do not know that the shiny metallic dome with a 100 foot chimney stack being built is an incinerator? In fact, given that it won’t be required to be called an incinerator and instead be pushed through planning as an ‘energy from waste plant’ - something with an environmentally friendly ring to it – you could be blissfully unaware.

Last autumn’s initial consultation had a booklet with fields of daisies and woodland on the front cover. Inside the booklet was a questionnaire. This questionnaire was completed by only forty one people. Just 41 out of a population of 1.1 million! Nevertheless due to the leading questions in the booklet, it triggered a billion pound procurement process allowing companies all over the EU to bid for the site. Does this smack of, “what the people don’t know won’t harm them”?

So who will end up living next to these incinerators? Well, Friends of the Earth have produced a report which shows that 50 per cent of the incinerators are situated in 10 per cent of the poorest wards in the country.

Back in October the Croydon Green Party calculated that the most plausible location for this incinerator is the existing Beddington Lane waste management site in Sutton. However, being just across the border from Croydon, it would be residents in north Croydon that would predominantly be affected. The wards in Croydon which are immediately downwind from Beddington Lane are unsurprisingly poorer wards that make up Thornton Heath. They also have a higher proportion of BME residents.

Which leads me back to my original musings. We can assume that the authorities are more likely to push an unpopular decision upon a community which doesn’t have the technical, financial or legal expertise to fight it. It’s the advantaged exercising their status over the disadvantaged; the ruling class imposing their solution on the working class. Some would argue that if the outcome of a decision disproportionately affects BME communities then it is racist regardless of the intention.

UK society is increasingly unequal. Studies show that life expectancy differs up to six years within Croydonmuch of this differential attributable to air quality. If the authorities continue to look for neo-liberalistic economic solutions to environmental issues such as waste, which fail to take into consider social and ecological costs, then the future is bleak. From north Croydon to New Orleans, it is the poorer predominantly non white communities that are most affected both locally and globally.

Back at the festival the experience was nothing short of a sensory treat. The smells, sounds and colours that gushed from the jerk grills, steel bands and carnival procession brought the Caribbean to the local High Street. What is tragic is that a couple of years from now, the likelihood is we won’t just be catching the aroma from the jerk seasoning, we could also be breathing in the toxic nanoparticles from the incinerator that go deep down into the lungs, through the membranes, into the bloodstream and finally into the brain.

By Shasha Khan

Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Croydon North.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Millions spent on academisation

Linked to comment made here
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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Greens 'welcome' delgates to Croydon Labour Party Environmental Conference

Chris Sciberras pictured earlier today distributing leaflets outside Croydon Labour Party's Environmental Conference which was held at Stanley Halls - in association with the local Cooperative Party . The banter was good humoured. Labour councillors retorted with, "Vote Green, Get Blue". It takes a moment to work out what they mean......

Chris thanked Valerie Shawcross AM on her good work with regard to the trams. She replied with, "Jenny Jones has been brilliant".
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Friday, October 02, 2009

Conversation with London Eco Park (Edmondton Incinerator)

Phone call made to London Eco Park following my 'visit'. Below are the key exchanges as I recall.

SK: I was cycling down the navigation and I came across a smell as I approached the site.

LEP: What type of odour was it?

SK: A mixture of turps and cheap paint.

LEP: Well, that sort of odour is not associated with the site.

SK: So your plant doesn’t smell?

LEP: No I didn’t say that, what I meant is that the odour you describe is chemical type smell and this plant doesn’t handle chemicals. We’ve never had a complaint of a chemical type odour.

SK: I was speaking to lady on the bridge and she could smell it too.

LEP: But it wouldn’t be from the site.

SK: Could chemicals be put in household rubbish?

LEP: That is possible but this area is a big industrial estate with several firms. There are automobile works nearby. The odour could have come from another part of the estate.

SK: So what does your plant smell off?

LEP: It’s an organic smell.

To his credit, he did offer to find out more about the odour.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Global Day of Action against Waste and Incineration

I cycled up the Lea Valley Navigation today to the Edmonton Incinerator in Enfield. Today is 8th Global Day of Action Against Waste Incineration . The route was pleasant from Hackney Downs, passing canel boats and wildlife. As I got nearer to the incinerator I actually failed to notice the smell coming from the incinerator. I suppose because I was cycling, I simply failed notice the stench. Also, presumably because it was gradual, the smell simply didn't register. However, as I stood outside the incinerator it became apparent very quickly that there was a smell. Before long I felt a taste on the back of my throat. If I had to describe it I would say it was mixture of turps and cheap paint. The lady who took the photograph above said that she could smell the emissions from the incinerator at her home in Chingford. This corresponds to a story I read online about cases of asthma being unusually high for a middle class ward situated downwind in Chingford. For the moment, I can't find the link for that story but there are other reports of local health being affected: Here and here. What I intend to do is ring London Eco Park (yes I know!) to ask what causes the smell.
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Video: The Hickson Triangular Display Unit as featured at Thornton Heath Festival

Sutton and Cheam candidate Peter Hickson at work!
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Standing up for what matters