Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Racism in Croydon

Croydon is trending globally again. Just 3 months ago it was news and imagery relating to the riots, and now its racism.

I have received a number of texts and emails regarding the now infamous racist outburst by the lady on the Croydon to Wimbledon tram.

I first noticed that there was a vid attracting interest when I checked out the Croydon Advertiser web site for their latest news, this was day before yesterday. At that point the video had only around 3000 hits - now its just shy of 6 million. What can I say, I feel sorry for Emma West, she needs many ways.

By coincidence I was going to blog about a piece of racist graffiti (above) I noticed in Thornton Heath just last week. Its all the more thought provoking given the high proportion of Black and Asian folks in the area. In addition, I can distinctly remember a similar piece of racist commentary, a few years back, that targeted people of colour in the same location.

Just earlier this month, I posted about a film which asks the question, Is Croydon Racist? What a coincidence that 'My tram experience' hits the news the same month Runnymede Trust drop in on Croydon to find out if the borough is racist?

Poorer areas tend to be populated by immigrant communities; new entrants into this country will congregate where housing is cheaper, and where there is already a community of similar origin already present. Croydon is no different. What is different is the level of income inequality within the borough. Furthermore, given that social mobility is almost nil, it becomes increasingly difficult for those living in poorer areas to climb up the ladder and move away, all the while new migrants are entering an already populated area. Not a good mix.

Periods of austerity arguably correlate with periods of increased racial tension and economic rioting, so when we look back at 2011, should we be surprised that the two occasions Croydon went viral are actually symptoms of a recession? [Written on the same day nearly 2 million public sector workers went on strike]

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Letter to Evening Standard

I don't think this letter has been/will be published. Oh well.....

Your article Help me make Croydon great again, says Boris reminds readers that small firms were the worst hit in the riots across London. Croydon was no exception. Whilst the chain stores in the pedestriansised zone enjoyed protection from the police, it was open season on the shops, the overwhelming majority independent stores, in the surrounding the areas. That is why I am stunned to read that the £23 million cash injection to help rebuild Croydon is earmarked for the town centre alone.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Croydon Green Party

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Comment on criminal children

The Croydon advertiser recently interviewed me with my 'youth worker' hat on.

I should point that if I said 'interfere', I meant 'intervene'. As it was mobile phone conversation, the reporter probably didn't hear me clearly.

Link to online version which contains a lot of interesting comment.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Boris Bikes, Boris Buses and now Boris Bungs??

Yesterday's Evening Standard had a headline which read, "Help Me Make Croydon Great Again." The report said that Mayor Boris Johnson is investing £23million to improve Croydon's town centre and urging investors to do the same.

This morning I checked the wording of the press release on the GLA web site. It says that:

The money is a large chunk of the Mayor’s £70m Regeneration Fund set up to help repair the damage caused to high streets and town centres in the August riots
However, we all know that Croydon's town centre - in other words its pedestrianised zone with its shopping centres - was protected by the police and remained reactively untouched, whereas it was open season in the surrounding areas. Many shops and homes were burnt to a cinder.

Question: So why is riot money being used inappropriately?

Answer : Maybe its being used as an inducement to encourage the investment - like a bung....a BORIS BUNG

I'll attempt to explain: On November 10th Westfield announced it was in “exclusive arrangements” with the Whitgift Foundation to be the development partner of the Whitgift Shopping Centre site. The Croydon Guardian headline stated that, “Million of pounds of investment at stake.”

The Mayor’s announcement is just twelve days after the Westfield announcement; too close in time not to be a coincidence?? Using the riots as a backdrop, Boris has been able to justify a town centre investment to improve the infrastructure around the Whitgift Shopping Centre.

What adds weight to this idea of a bung is the fact that in the aforementioned Evening Standard article, Croydon council leader Mike Fisher said:

"Croydon is committed to investing in major regeneration. The funding from the Mayor of London will help us realise many of our ambitions.Coming so soon after the Westfield announcement this shows there is a real buzz about Croydon right now."
Yes there is already money earmarked for Croydon (and Tottenham) BUT this £23million seems to be, at best, inappropriately used. There will be nothing left for victims of the riots who had their homes and businesses levelled on Church Street and London Road. The Mayor's press release makes this clear:

The Mayor’s investment will support work across the four following areas:

- £5 million to improve the key entrances to Croydon, making them welcoming with more space for pedestrians and improving the transport interchange around West Croydon station, and the junction of Dingwall Road and Lansdowne Road near the new East Croydon station footbridge.

- £7 million to repair and strengthen Croydon’s high street including its main north-south high street.

- £6 million to make Croydon better connected by removing barriers to walking and improving routes between key destinations with improved pedestrian crossings across the Wellesley Road at Bedford Park Road, Lansdowne Road, George Street, the Fairfield Halls and Edridge Road.

- £5 million to attract business with a three year package of support.

= £23 million

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

City Council leader

On a recent visit to Brighton I picked up a copy of the local free paper. The front page story was about a house on Chester Terrace that had remained empty for 32 years.

The striking thing about the piece - at least for me - was the comment made by the elected member on Brighton City Council:

City council leader, the Green Party's Bill Randell said....

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Letter in the Sutton Guardian

The above letter is a reminder to the hypocrisy surrounding the incinerator. Labour in Croydon have been cleverly capitalising on the growing anti-incinerator feeling in the borough. Its difficult for them to be anti-incinerator when their cousins in Merton are backing the proposals, so they are left to attack the procedural issues and not the actual substance of the Plan.

However, one should not forget the parameters of the South London Waste Partnership were approved by Labour back in 2006 when they were the lead group on the Council.


Dear Editor,

I was interested to see Councillor Whitham, the leader of the Conservative opposition group on Sutton Council comment that he had “grave concerns” about an incinerator in Beddington, something Greens have been opposing for the last three years [Croydon Guardian, Nov 9th]. He is right to be worried about its impact. Might I suggest that he write to the Conservative council leader in Croydon, Mike Fisher who is in favour of such a facility. Similarly, could I ask the Labour opposition in Croydon, also against the Beddington incinerator, to contact the Labour leader on Merton Council, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, who is also in favour of the waste facility in Beddington. When principle is absent, one can only see a tangled web of hypocrisy.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Leader, Croydon Green Party

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Monday, November 14, 2011

Cabinet meets tonight re Waste incinerator

The full agenda is here.

For those not familiar with council speak, PART B means that public and press are excluded from the meeting. Are you watching Tunis, Cairo and Tripoli? This is how we do it.
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Vote on EU letter

Letter from Ross in the Croydon Guardian (9th November). Can also be read here .
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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Big business and elected politicians put the mock into our democracy

Croydon Advertiser May 22nd 2009

This weeks Croydon Guardian revealed the incinerator is indeed planned for BEDDINGTON. My colleagues and I in the Green Party have been warning this was the desired outcome for exactly three years now. The article also says that Viridor have beaten WRG to the billion pound contract.

In November 2008 we submitted a 5000 word document to the initial consultation which kick-started this sham. We first used the word incinerator in a leaflet in the Waddon by-election in January 2009,

However, the first major splash appeared in the Croydon Advertiser in May 2009 (pic above). The image used, featuring yours truly, was taken at Croydon's Valley Park, with Beddington on the horizon. Reporter Neil Millard came up with the idea of using Photoshop to depict how an incinerator would appear on the landscape. This image is now almost prophetic!! Neil is incidentally now at The Sun newspaper. His latest piece is on UKBF's Brodie Clark's suspension.

I feel what has happened here in South London with regard to the Waste Plan (SLWP) pangs of the frustration that has resulted in the Occupy Movement. There are definitely similarities:

What we have witnessed over the last three years is a process where the concerns, fears and demands of the people in Croydon, Sutton, Merton and Kingston have not been heard - AT ANY STAGE OF THIS CONSULTATION. Big business has been calling the tune with elected politicians dancing by their side attempting to give the semblance of democracy, and it is the people who live in poorer communities who will suffer. Ring any bells??

Here are some examples of how we have been mocked :

  1. The first waste plan consultation was kept low key, with only 41 respondents to the full questionnaire. This meant that waste companies had a higher number of submissions and thus undue influence on its outcome.

  2. Detailed submissions by the Croydon Green Party have never appeared on the SLWP web site

  3. The Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State failed to invite spokespersons from Croydon Friends of the Earth or the Croydon Green Party to his so called Hearing of the Plan.

  4. Councillors in all four boroughs throughout the whole process have been passing through each statutory stage of the consultation on a nod.

  5. The opposition party groups in each of the four boroughs, offer token resistance, but each opposition group is aware that their own party in a neighbouring borough is pushing through the Plan. Cr7 Green explains this scenario beautifully.

  6. It has been revealed to me by a councillor within the four boroughs that Viridor has long been planning a major new waste facility in Beddington.

  7. The Plan allows radioactive waste to be managed without the need for planning permission. Lovely jubbly if you are a waste contractor.

  8. Beddington has always been the most plausible location. No other site could alone manage the sheer tonnage of waste from the four boroughs and third party waste. Elected politicians in Sutton had been meeting with Beddington residents as early as February 2010 in an attempt to reassure them.

  9. Members of the public and reporters were asked to leave the room when the councillors met to recommend the Plan.

  10. Councillors claim the sensitive nature of the procurement process - an entirely separate process to the consulation - prevents them from answering specific questions with regard to the Plan. Very convenient indeed.

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Is Croydon Racist?

Yesterday evening, I went along to a discussion at the Race Equality Pop Up Shop in Croydon. This was following a tweet from Elizcro. The temporary shop in Katherine Street is part of a project called Generation 3.0, which seeks to find out how we can end racism in a generation. The project itself is funded by the race equality think tank Runnymede Trust. The video they have produced is revealing and thought provoking, as was the discussion at the shop.

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Monday, November 07, 2011

Neighbouring candidate on the tele

Green Party GLA candidate for Lambeth and Streatham, Jonathan Bartley, was really good on Sunday Morning Live yesterday. Even though he was described in the introductions as the co-founder of Christian think tank Ekklesia, his principle line of work, he managed to drop his Green Party candidacy into one of his comments! Hopefully, viewers got a gist of the values that guide Green Party policy.

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Standing up for what matters