Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Flyer for local Green Party fundraiser

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another letter re the Mobile Phone Mast

In response to this letter in the Croydon Guardian.


Dear Editor,

The First Past the Post method for electing councillors means that three quarters of Croydon’s councillors represent wards which won’t change hands for a generation, if ever. It would be contrary to human nature for councillors in these safe wards, such as Selhurst, not to get complacent because they essentially have a job for life. Regardless of Councillor Mansell’s view (Stop the unjustified scaremongering, Feedback, Nov 17th) on the health risks associated mobile phone technology and indeed my own view, which is one of precaution (recommendation from OFCOM web site), the fact remains that 500 households in the Selhurst ward are anxious about the mobile phone mast. Equally, parents whose children attend the two nurseries next to the approved site are also concerned. I would hazard a guess that if the margin of victory at the last election between Labour and the next placed party were only 500 votes then at the very least the councillors would have requested that the mobile phone operators give a presentation to allay the fears of the local people – something that I have now done.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Scenes in the council chamber.

Local democracy guru, John Cartwright, asked this written question (above) at the December 6th Full Council meeting. However, it was his cleverly worded supplementary which was met with howls of laughter and disdain:

"Will the leader of the Council take every opportunity to remind the people and the voters that Labour governments (and Labour councils) are almost always voted in by empty minds and voted out by empty pockets?"
Labour councillors weren't best pleased, especially when the Leader of the Council, Tory Mike Fisher, struggled to contain his amusement. The subsequent 'Point of Orders' almost used up the 15 minutes allocated to Public Questions. These scenes must have been an eye opener for the young people from Timebridge Youth Club. Welcome to Croydon Council.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

""EqIAs are at the heart of policy and decision making"

Well, Councillor Vidhi Mohan clearly states that Equality Impact Assessments are not going to be an 'afterthought' but at the centre of evidence based decision making. Its time to hold our collective breath.

I followed up with a supplementary question at the full council meeting on December 6th from the public gallery. I asked him about youth clubs given closing Timebridge is hardly going to enhance equality:

"Does the Council think its fair that young persons, youth workers, and support staff will be affected by the £1.5m in cuts in youth services given they had absolutely nothing to do with the financial deficit?"

He answered by saying firstly my supplementary had nothing to do with the original question. To which I shouted back "Yes it does." Then he mumbled something in audible amongst the low level noise. I asked local democracy guru, John Cartwright, via email if he heard the content of Councillor Mohan's reply:

"Unfortunately the acoustics in the council chamber are fairly bad most of the time, so its easy to lose track of what people are saying (especially if lots of councillors are shouting over each other at the same time) if one is not concentrating hard."

It does give the councillors an easy get out if they can hide behind the normal humdrum of a full council meeting. I did ask the council officers if his response was recorded but they replied, "No."
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Save Timebridge Youth Club

At the last full council meeting (December 6th) public sector workers protesting against the cuts were joined by staff and young people from Timebridge Youth Club in Fieldway ward. Its reported that 1000 young persons use the facility. In terms of economic factors Fieldway is the most poorest ward in Croydon. The guys photographed run a 'Training for Seniors' club at the centre.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Video of the student protests

I've been on plenty of demos but I have never seen scenes like this. Its clear to me that a lot more young people have been radicalised having been subjected to the highly controversial kettling strategy. Within seconds of arriving I filmed these scenes:

Or view here.
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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Campaign to save the six Croydon libraries

Picture take by Sue Hamilton

[06.12.10] Green South Norwood ward candidate Sue Hamilton (formerly Sue Ackon) and I joined Labour Party politicians, including Malcolm Wicks MP and the leader of the opposition Tony Newman, to demonstrate against the closure of South Norwood library. South Norwood library is one of upto six libraries earmarked for closure.

The Financial Summary in the Review of the Library Building network paper states:

The Council is considering different ways to make efficiencies. This paper proposes consultation on options for reducing the library building network budget in light of the Comprehensive Spending Review. If a decision were made to change the current service it could result in a reduction in spending of £98k- 664k. In addition it is estimated that there will be savings in the cyclical and responsive maintenance budgets of between £5k and £64k.
The six libraries (listed as Options) in the document are:

Option 1: Closure of Sanderstead Library
Option 2: Closure of Norbury Library
Option 3: Closure of Shirley Library
Option 4: Closure of Bradmore Green Library
Option 5: Closure of Broad Green Library
Option 6: Closure of South Norwood Library
Option 7: Do nothing

Councillor Tim Godfrey felt the doors would be permanently closed on all six libraries.

Libraries are important for social mobility. They offer free Internet access; a warm enclosed space for those that struggle to pay their heating bills, on bitterly cold days like yesterday; and of course books and newspapers. All are essential if you have lost your job, as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review, and are seeking to find work!


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Monday, December 06, 2010

Incineration Obfuscation.

Following the fantastic news that the Planning Inspectorate concurred with Derby Council in refusing to grant permission for a waste incinerator masquerading as "Waste Treatment Facility" in Sinfin, Paul Pickering, Chair of Stop The Incinerator, asked the following question at Public Question Time:

"Is the Council aware of the Planning Inspectorate's rejection of a Waste Treatment Facility in Derby? The Inspector made specific reference to increased traffic volumes and questioned whether sufficient waste would be available for the 25 year life of the project. Do current plans for SLWP have any future?

The answer was given today. I sat with Chris Sciberras in the public gallery. We both struggled to understand the wording....Chris described it as a lesson in obfuscation. Quite.

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Thornton Heath Live

I was invited to comment on the launch of Thornton Heath Live, Croydon Guardian's new community news/noticeboard.

"A web site dedicated to local news, activities and events in Thornton Heath is fantastic idea. Thornton Heath is one of the most multicultural areas in the UK, and a web site dedicated to its unique population of 50,000 can help gel the sometimes-disparate communities together into one Thornton Heath community.

"Being a user generated web site, Thornton Heath Live has the added attraction of being community driven. It gives community groups that I am involved with a quick and easy way to get our forthcoming event or news story out into the public domain.

"When I first moved to Thornton Heath in 1982, I borrowed local history books from the library and found out about the area. This suburban district has a fascinating history of farms, ponds and public parks. It has evolved to becoming the most ethically diverse area in South London and Thornton Heath Live will give us an opportunity to celebrate this richness.

"Long Live Thornton Heath Live!"

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More Public Question Time answers

Responses to questions put forward by Muriel Passmore (Croham ward) and Chris Sciberras (Bensham Manor ward) on 18th October.

NB. "Croydon Council is committed to promoting sustainable transport"
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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Public Question Time from last month

Taken from written questions from members of the public - October 18th, 2010.

Above are the latest set of wondrous examples of backward defensive political strokeplay from our local government. The questions were bowled by Jim Clugston (New Addington ward candidate 2010) and myself. The responses we've been getting have been increasingly dismissive but nevertheless, I feel these replies need to be recorded.

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Standing up for what matters