Friday, July 30, 2010

Saving the planet from the bottom up.

Grace Onions (Green Party candidate for Waddon) is the founder of the Croydon Real Nappy Network. She sent me a note about a new incentive scheme to get parents/carers to try real nappies. The new scheme has had some coverage in the Croydon Guardian details below.

N.B.The Green Guardian used to be a whole page. However, due to Croydon Council cutting its sponsorship, its now been reduced to a column.

Croydon Real Nappy Network Incentive Scheme

What is the incentive scheme?

This is a new scheme to provide parents/carers with an opportunity to try real nappies.

If you live in the London Borough of Croydon and you are expecting a baby or have one or more children in nappies, you could be entitled to claim a voucher towards the cost of your purchase of real nappies up to the value of £30. This voucher can be redeemed for nappies (and accessories) online at Babykind, Plushpants and Kittykins or Hippy Happy Nappy laundry service (up to the value of the voucher) within two months of receiving it. Vouchers are issued on a first come first served basis. This offer is limited subject to availability.

How does it work?

1. Please email or telephone 07890 003 481 for an application pack. Complete an application form.

2. Check out information on how to use nappies, nappy types and suppliers. We can also help you do this.

3. When you receive your voucher, contact your chosen retailer/service provider and place your order. You will need to quote your voucher number and post your paper voucher to the retailer to redeem it.

4. After a couple of months, complete the feedback form provided in your pack.

Terms and Conditions apply.
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Letter to the paper on Dubstep.

Linked to this post.


Dear Editor,

There is a tendency to look for bricks and mortar examples when conveying what is good about Croydon. In your article (Councillor backs town in ‘Kyle’ row), Councillor Steve O’Connell refers to the shops and restaurants. Others would point to Fairfield Halls.

Our senior councillors (no pun intended) are probably not aware of developments in the dance music scene that are attributable to Croydon.

‘Dubstep’ is a new bass driven genre which has taken the world by storm, and its roots are in Croydon. Local artists such as Oliver ‘Skream’ Jones are appearing on the cover of magazines in Europe and USA. This follows a rich history of musicians from our borough producing much-lauded electronic music.

Identifying dubstep as an example of Croydon culture may not be the conventional way to describe this borough, but that does not mean it should be ignored. The next time Councillor O’Connell is at some international municipal conference or on the radio, could he show he's in tune with what's going on in the whole of Croydon.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Guest speaker Alex Harrison, Gaza Freedom flotilla

Local members gave a warm welcome to guest speaker Alex Harrison at Monday's Croydon Green Party meeting. Alex, whose hometown is Croydon, a former pupil at Monks Hill ( now Selsdon High), gave a riveting account of her experience aboard the Challenger yacht, part of the Gaza Freedom flotilla, and wider Free Gaza movement. Members expressed their admiration for her commitment and courage. It should be said that a lively discussion followed her account.

The you tube video only has a small part of her presentation. I noted some other key points:

  • The vessel she was on was shot at with rubber bullets whist in international waters
  • The Challenger yacht had a total of 17 on board, including 10 women. Four were over 60, one was over 80.
  • Her vessel offered no physical resistance
  • Two war correspondents from the Sydney Morning Herald were also aboard
  • Her luggage was looted for valuables. Her wrist watch was taken, as well as her Blackberry - which was used 3 weeks after the incident.
  • The Israeli soldiers confiscated nearly all of the flotilla's footage
  • She was denied her legal rights whilst imprisoned, both international and Israeli law, before being illegally deported to Turkey
  • The Free Gaza movement has Jewish activists.
  • The reporting of Free Gaza demo was discussed at the meeting. Five Croydon Green Party members attended the demo. We all agreed the numbers at the demo on 5th June were around between 15,000 - 20,000. The BBC reported only 2000 were present.

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cuts to voluntary groups in Croydon

Addington Community Centre Association
Age Concern Croydon
Association of Jamaicans
Bangladesh Welfare Association of Croydon*
British Afghan Association & Immigration Advisory Centre
Croydon Appliance Reuse Centre**
Croydon Community Mediation
Croydon Community Care Service
Rape and Sex Abuse Support Centre****
Relate Croydon MG
Refugee Project Croydon
Victim Support Croydon

Above is a pot pourri of local organisations within the voluntary sector who will no longer get grant money from the council.
Overall this is cut from £1.8million a year to £625,000 a year over the next four years. A total of 47 groups that were previously supported by the council will lose their funding. A total of 126 voluntary organisations applied for money from the Stronger Communities Fund, including a community association that I am trustee for.

Many of the organisations act as a safety net for the most vulnerable in our society. The lucky half dozen that were successful in their applications have been identified as "strategic and infrastructure groups". One such organisation is the Croydon Citizens Advice Bureau, whose Chair is Andy Bebington, Green Party candidate for Shirley ward. Their funding has been slashed by 34%. One would surmise that this probably means redundancies; leading to a reduced service for an ever increasing number of people who are seeking advice on their employment rights and financial situation, e.g.. mortgage and rent arrears, as result of the recession. Just how does the Big Society fill the gap here???

Local newspaper coverage, Croydon Advertiser and Croydon Guardian


* The President of the Bangladesh Welfare Association of Croydon (BWAC) is a Badsha Quadir. In May he was elected as Conservative councillor for Purley ward. Now he is voting to slash his own associations' £50,000 grant. How twisted is that? The BWAC manager, Abdul Gofur, says that they "will be forced to close."

**The councils advises residents wishing to dispose of their domestic appliances and furniture to contact ARC (Croydon Appliance Reuse Centre). Now this group is without local funding.

*** Nightwatch is a charity that provides food, equipment and shelter to the homeless. It has been doing this since 1976. The mere £2000 it received from the Council has reduced to zero. That said, the group will continue thanks to donations.

****The Rape and Sex Abuse Support Centre will see their funding cut to zero from £30,000. One hopes that Mayor Boris Johnson maintains the level of support required to keep this organisation operating at the levels necessary to meet demand.

One final thing, an acquaintance who went along to the demo, outside the Town Hall, said she saw a few faces demonstrating that have were arguably Conservative voters!

Letter sent to the Croydon Guardian:


Dear Editor,

It is difficult not to get angry when one reads of the £1.2m cuts to local charities and voluntary organizations (Fury as door slams on charities –July 14th), especially as I am a trustee of a local charity affected.

Both Labour and the ConDems have cleverly conditioned us all into believing that cuts such as these are wholly necessary to tackle the budget deficit.

However, there is an alternative to these drastic measures. The Green Party has joined forces with Oxfam, Save the Children and Trade Unions and called for a tiny banking tax, known as a Robin Hood tax, on large financial transactions. Just 0.005 per cent levied on the billions of pounds traded every day by fund managers would raise enough money to avoid the austerity drive. The Institute for Public Policy Research has found that the financial sector can afford to pay £20bn in taxes this year alone. It is important not to forget that the bankers got us in to this financial mess in the first place. Due to poor regulation, the banks operated in a fashion more akin to a casino, safe in the knowledge that they were too big to fail - the government of the day would always bail them out.

Apparently, “we are all in this together”, yet these cuts will hit the poorest in our communities the most, whilst the £1 trillion bank bailout, and subsequent feeble regulation, has ensured the bonus culture is intact.

This is very strong smelling coffee. Isn’t it time we all woke up?

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Brook Clearout at the Rec

I found a piece in the Croydon Advertiser on Friends of Thornton Heath Recreation Grounds' annual 'Brook clear out'.
Many were surprised to see the local Labour councillors, and even the Labour MP, attend the event - see you tube vid for proof!!! Maybe this is a reaction to the creditable numbers the Green Party candidates polled in Bensham Manor and Thornton Heath wards???

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Letter on cuts to public services

Trying to convey an argument against the style and level of cuts in a letter is not easy. My letter to the Croydon Advertiser was edited down. Original below:


Dear Editor,

Both Labour and the ConDems have cleverly conditioned us all into believing that cuts in public spending, pay freezes and a 2.5% hike in VAT are wholly necessary to tackle the budget deficit. I for one am relieved that one MP, the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas, has joined forces with Oxfam, Save the Children and Trade Unions and called for a tiny banking tax, known as a Robin Hood tax, on large financial transactions within the foreign exchange, hedge fund and derivative markets. Just 0.005 per cent levied on the billions of pounds traded every day would raise enough money to avoid the austerity measures. The Institute for Public Policy Research has found that the financial sector can afford to pay £20bn in taxes this year alone. It is important not to forget that the bankers got us in to this financial mess in the first place. Due to poor regulation, the banks operated in a fashion more akin to a casino, safe in the knowledge that they were too big to fail - the government of the day would always bail them out.

Your paper reports that Croydon Council is facing a £4m cut in the "area support grant”. Apparently, “we are all in this together”, yet these cuts will hit the poorest in our society the most. Leaked Treasury data shows that nationally 1.3 million jobs will be lost over the next 5 years as a result of the Chancellors austerity drive. How can this be fair when Deutsche Bank analysts said the budget was a "good outcome for banks"?

One can only conclude that the Banks have got politicians from the main three parties in their pockets. Analysis shows strong connections between the ConDem cabinet and the City. Financial institutions enjoy a close relationship with Labour, too. Whilst they were in power 23 bankers were given honours.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

A local member sent me the following insightful note after reading the letter:

It is reasonable to say the informed consensus is that austerity packages will do more harm than good. An overwhelming number of senior economists, including Nobel Prize winners and ex-Heads of the World Bank, as well as Obama himself, agree that the risk of precipitating double-dip recession and stagnating any nascent recovery is simply too great.

Rather embarrassingly, the Office of Budget Responsibility – set up as political cover in the first place – concluded a week after “Slasher” Osbourne’s Budget that the bulk of the deficit would have been closed by 2014-2015 anyway, without the need for these savage, macho-posturing cuts.

This is quite apart from the fact that the UK is actually in far better economic shape than most of the euro-zone anyway.

The scaremongering of the Right is simply an excuse to attack public services as all their instincts tell them to. We are not and have never been “in it together”; that is socialism in a nutshell and they will have none of it – except when it comes to the largest corporations and banks. If we fail, the market demanded it and government are professed to be powerless to intervene, but if a bank or big corporation sees its profits threatened, then socialism will be invoked to save us all. The Tories are corporate/banking communists.

The “common sense” approach that applies to family finance does not apply to macroeconomics; we have known that since Keynes. State retrenchment during a recession not only stifles investment and consumer spending power but it naturally results in lower tax revenue, thereby actually increasing deficits. This then becomes a vicious circle.

It is clear these cuts are motivated by ideology and not economics. It is a return to the 80s and Thatcherite attacks on the very notion of a public sector. Even Friedman did not go this far however.

The fact the “Iron Lady” was among the first invited to Number 10 goes to show how far her influence still runs within the Tories and with Cameron himself; rebranded but still just as nasty.

The Right always claims that deregulation and privatization are the answers to all ills. This seems to ignore the obvious: how would a “big society” of charitable individuals have prevented the crash of 2008? They act as if the worst economic implosion for 80 years never happened. The only institution with the power to protect people from the excesses of casino capitalism is the state. We do not need a “big state” but we need a state capable of regulating bankers and corporations. Without a democratic expression of the interests of the people, money alone will rule.

What is needed is a willingness to belatedly recognise the elephant in the room and move away from fake economic “growth” as a measure of wealth and success. Now we have seen that the emperor of the City has no clothes, we need a return to an economy built on making things of value and not one of valuing made up things.

If we thought it was bad when the gamblers still had to worry about collapsing the whole house of cards, we have seen nothing yet. Now the bankers know that bailouts are guaranteed and now that the concept of “too big to fail” is firmly established in the public mind and political vernacular (indeed the survivors are now even bigger and even less likely to be permitted to fail), they will take even greater risks. After all, it is not their money and never was.

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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Esther Sutton working with Director of Public Safety

Esther Sutton Green Party candidate for Fairfield ward and landlady of the Green Dragon pictured.

England's early exit from the World Cup, and probably the manner they lost to Germany, meant that the riots that broke out in central Croydon back in 2004 were not repeated. Not a single person was arrested this time around! Preparations for a riotous outcome were nevertheless meticulous, including plastic glasses and door supervisors for town centre pubs.
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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Letter in Croydon Advertiser re trains

Dear Editor,

I presume your article on the record levels of happiness with Southern Railways refers to services from East Croydon. At Norwood Junction we have faced bizarre service cuts with the new summer timetable. In particular the 8.01 from Norwood Junction has been withdrawn, leaving a gap from 7.49 to 8.14 for a fast train to London Bridge. After a 25 minute gap the 8.14 is already full and many passengers waiting for it cannot board. During the day there is a 15 minute fast service to London Bridge, why make the timetable worse in the rush hour when there is more demand?

If you are affected by this odd service change, please write to or email Southern Railways and on receipt of their standard reply, contact London Travel Watch, who are preparing a case on the matter to submit to Southern Railways and can only act when the railway company has been contacted first. The more complaints they have, the stronger their case.

Yours sincerely

Chris Sciberras

Croydon Green Party

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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Green MP Caroline Lucas asks the PM a question!

The election of the first Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, is inevitably going to lead to a whole series of parliamentary 'firsts' for the Green Party. One of the more historical moments took place last week when Caroline asked the first question by a Green Party MP at Prime Minister's Questions. Probably to the surprise of sizeable swathe of the electorate - who still regard us as a single issue party - THE QUESTION HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ENVIRONMENT!

Transcript (copied/pasted from Number 10 web site):

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): Homecoming parades for our very brave soldiers in Afghanistan are incredibly important, but so is an exit strategy from Afghanistan. Given the growing agreement that there is no military solution to the crisis there and that the head of the Army himself has said that we should start talking to the Taliban soon, would the Prime Minister not agree that we should start talking now, so that we can save more lives on all sides and bring our troops home?

The Prime Minister: May I first of all welcome the hon. Lady to the House? Winning her seat was an incredible achievement for her party, and I know that she will make a huge contribution during this Parliament.

We discussed Afghanistan at quite some length in the House yesterday. Of course there is no purely military solution; very few insurgencies are ended by purely military means. But I think it is important to continue with the strategy this year of the military surge, to put pressure on the Taliban-and, of course, there should be a political track. But as I said yesterday in the House, we have to recognise that there is a difference between the Taliban linked to al-Qaeda, who want to do so much harm not just in Afghanistan but across our continent as well, and those people who have been caught up in an insurgency for other reasons. Should there be reconciliation and reintegration? Yes, of course; there is, and we can go further. But I think that the things that the hon. Lady is talking about would not be advisable.

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Monday, July 05, 2010

Croydon bashing on the airwaves.

Thank you Dave Pettener (Green Party candidate for Sanderstead) for alerting me to Vanessa Feltz' phone in on BBC London last Friday, where a string of people came on to defend or bash Croydon. This all started when the unfortunate Sgt Deucher - the face of Croydon Police - made comments on Facebook about Croydon's cultural deficiencies and joked that, "Research indicates all of Jeremy Kyle's guests can trace their roots back to the lovely town".

Councillor Steve O'Connell and Andy Worden, the editor of the Croydon Advertiser, phoned in to defend the borough BUT it was astute resident Paul who hit the nail on the head:

"Croydon Councillors are bedblockers".

Paul pointed out that Croydon's image problem - which has even been brought to the attention of the House of Commons by Gavin Barwell MP - is down to its ineffectual councillors that sit in the town hall. He correctly asserted that the, "same names keep coming up over and over again in the council" (due to the archaic electoral system), and all they do is "score points off each other. They don't understand the true potential of Croydon".

Paul can be heard around the 42nd minute

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Standing up for what matters