Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Donald Trump elected.

Just three points I would like to make:

1) On the morning that Trump was elected I was speaking to a Pakistani gentleman in Croydon. He showed me a meme which was circulating among Pakistanis. See below.

It basically says - and I know this from asking him for a translation - the following:

  • President Clinton resulted in Taliban
  • President Bush resulted in Al Qaeda
  • President Obama resulted in Daesh
  • President Trump will result in the end of time

2) Later in the afternoon I heard Green Party candidate in the Witney by-election Larry Sanders - brother to Bernie Sanders - explain how and why Trump got elected. I couldn't agree more with his analysis.


3) I sent Larry Sander's analysis to my learned cousin in San Francisco to which I got the following reply:

I believe there are some racist folks out there in America, who would identify with a candidate who spews xenophobe mantra apologetically to the world; who began his campaign by equating Mexicans to rapists, and Muslims to terrorists; who threw out a silent Muslim woman from his raucous rally to wildly cheering crowds; who didn't disavow the entreating of the KKK; who supported the former Imperial Wizard of the KKK and Holocaust denier David Duke to run for the Senate; who was sued by the Justice Department for discriminating against blacks in 1973; who opposed the first ever black president with the most ridiculously protracted allegation that he wasn't born in America...need I go on? 
For these people - and I don't know how many there are - I would argue that they voted not against but along their interest for a candidate apparently harbours their own view of race and society. But to be clear, not all people who voted for Trump are like this, the fringe. The financially depressed people of Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin, trying to make ends meet paycheck to paycheck, want a change from the current politics that saw to it that their jobs went to Mexico and China, and here comes the Orange Knight who says he will bring coal and steel jobs back, build roads and bridges, tax all products made outside America, and doesn't sound like a two-faced spin-doctor politician. The alternative - a woman who's philandering husband took their jobs away with NAFTA. Their choice is clear. 

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Did anyone think about light pollution??

Photo by Peter Alfrey

Stick light pollution to the list which already inludes noise, air and dust.
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Saturday, November 05, 2016

Result of the Kingswood and Burgh Heath By Election

Fifty five votes doesn't sound like much but on a 20.5 per cent turnout, in an ultra-safe Tory seat it represents 4.8 per cent, which in my humble opinion is creditable given we ran a very limited campaign. If the High Court judgement on BREXIT came out two weeks earlier, I would have expected UKIP to be nearer 20 per cent.

Conservative: 73.3% (+6.6%)
UKIP:             13.5% (-8.1%)
Labour:           8.4%   (-3.3%)
Green:             4:8%   (4.8%)

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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Is a Trump Khan double possible?

From Surrey Mirror web site
Local party site here.

Today, five days before the leading country in the *free world* elects a new president, there's the not insignificant matter of the Kingswood and Burgh Heath By-Election.

I put my name forward, and was chosen by the local party to stand. My personal statement has been published on the Surrey Mirror web site, along with the other three candidates (no LIB DEM standing).

It is a very safe Conservative seat. Given my usual patch is Thornton Heath in Croydon, it has been an interesting experience knocking on the doors in Kingswood, where some streets are fully gated and houses go for £2.5m.

One resident in Kingswood explained that this government and the last one have made a right mess of the country. He was referring to BREXIT. He pointed out that the people who lived in this gated community had predominately sourced their wealth in the City of London, which in turn is essential for the prosperity of the UK. Hence, in his eyes, David Cameron was foolish in calling the EU referendum and risking it all, and Theresa May is equally foolish now for embracing a 'hard Brexit line'.

However, the only election that matters in most peoples eyes takes place next Tuesday on the otherside of the Pond.

The world is watching and wondering if Donald Trump will become President of the USA.

My cousin lives in the US. He put it quite succintly in a message to me:

I think in the privacy of the voting booth (and mail-in) people will vote Trump. Because they are fucking stupid. "Bigly". Clinton isn't perfect and it makes it a not-so clear cut decision, but the choice between a pussy-grabbing, lying, misogynist, tantrum-prone, racist, multiple-bankruptcy burdened business failure with more than 3000 lawsuits, AND a lying shrewd politician tied to Wall Street excesses with email issues, shouldn't be that difficult. 

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Support local reporters in their strike action

Over the last couple of weeks, Jason Lemin, Maeve Tomlinson and I have visited the picket line opposite Quadrant House in Sutton which also happens to be the pick up/drop off point at Sutton Railway station. 

Newsquest (owned by US media giant Gannett) is the second largest publisher of regional and local newspapers in the UK. It has editions all over South London from Bexley to Richmond. The publisher has put its entire south London newsroom on notice of redundancy. Newsquest want 12 reporters and one content editor to produce 11 newspapers and their related websites. (see NUJ web site for more information)

I spoke at length to reporter Chris Caulfield when I visited the picket line. Incredibly, Newsquest aim to reduce the journalistic spend on each page of its publications to £50. Given it can make thousands of pounds through advertising per page, this smacks of overzealous profiteering. Admittedly, this might bump Gannet's share price or make Newsquest an attractive proposition for purchase BUT, this ignores the vital role local and regional newspapers play in holding councillors to account. Cutting reporters at our local papers is like cutting the oxygen of accountability that helps our local democracy breathe.   

In addition to these terrible job losses, and let's be clear striking is the last resort for all the newsdesk staff, I am really worried about how knowledge of any corrupt activity by Croydon, Sutton or Surrey council will find its way to the electorate.  

This whole episode reminds me of a twitter spat between Gareth Davies and his former bosses at the Croydon Advertiser (read Inside Croydon). Gareth Davies over the years, like Chris Caulfield, reported extensively on the incinerator. However, it was only when he had left the Croydon Advertiser (owned by Trinty Mirror), was he really able to let rip on his former bosses about the cutbacks and redundancies. 

I have emailed my MP to sign EDM 511 

I have also written to Newsquest boss Henry Faure Walker - who seemed to be answering incoming calls when I rang the newsdesk last week: 

Please reconsider the cutting strategy

Sat 22/10/2016 09:00
To:h.faurewalker@newsquest.co.uk ;
Dear Henry,

I write to you today to reconsider Newsquest's corporate strategy of cutting the number of reporters and to put its entire south London newsroom on notice of redundancy.

Over the last 13 years I have got to know many of the reporters at the Croydon Guardian and Sutton Guardian. This is principally through my community activism. In 2013 I took the big step of challenging Sutton Council in the High Court to stop the commencement of construction of the South London incinerator. I can honestly say that without the coverage in Newsquests papers' I would have struggled to raise the funds to even get to the High Court.

Additionally, such was the complicated nature of the High Court challenge, I am concerned that a single reporter covering a whole edition would struggle to report on such a case. At the time your reporter, Chris Caulfield, was able to attend the trial to see and hear the arguments put before the judge at the Royal Courts of Justice first-hand.

In my opinion, Newsquest are risking its position as brand leader in South London because there are already community based news sites like Inside Croydon providing excellent investigative reporting, and dumbing down the quality of its publications will only affect Newsquests footing and eventually its advertising revenue.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan
Green Party

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Viridor on edge during Open Days

I went along with my daughter to one of the two Open Days organised by Viridor on Beddington Farmlands. I hadn't the slightest thought to disrupt proceedings but Viridor employees, Dan Cooke (Director of Communications), Andrew Turner and a bloke who remember as Ed were certainly watchful of me.

It was a baking hot day and we were advised to wear PPE for the tour as we were walking through the landfill site. The advice regarding the PPE was given during a powerpoint presentation at the start. It was mentioned within a short health and safety briefing, and it was at that point the visiting group were advised that any "disrupted behaviour" wouldn't be tolerated and those involved would be "escorted of site".

It made sense given, Cllr Nick Mattey's threat of chaining himself to the incinerator .

Throughout the tour the three Viridor employees were ever so charming and unsurprisingly attentive towards my daughter and me. We talked about football, politics, and family life. Andrew Turner even revealed he was a member of the Conservative party.

I could honestly say these Viridor guys would be good fun to go for a drink with!

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Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Tom Watson MP spotted playing Pokemon Go

While sitting on a bench at Victoria Place, last Wednesday, I noticed a familiar face walk past. I couldn't be certain but it looked a lot like the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

I thought to myself, oh well we'll never know.

However, moments after I took this photo (above) as some sort of snap memento, the figure stopped and held out his mobile phone and stared at its screen. I assumed he was checking social media. He paused for such a long time that I thought here's my chance to satisfy my curiosity. So, I walked up to him and said, "Mr Watson?"

"Hi," he replied, "I was just playing Pokemon Go. My kids have really got me into it."

I had a look at the screen on his phone and for the first time I saw what the  Pokemon Go game looked like.

We had a chat about politics and leadership elections. I confessed I was in the Green party and we talked about Caroline Lucas MP, and I explained that she was standing with Jonathan Bartley. Mr Watson said he had just come from Labour party HQ, and joked about whether a Corbyn/Smith job share could work in his party!

Given that Brexit is now done, the chattering classes are all talking about the state of the Labour party; the populace are talking about Pokemon Go and occasionally the two worlds collide.

Mr Watson has got form for being down with the kids. Some of the media slated him for going to Glastonbury but he seems like likable bloke who evidently has interests outside of politics!

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Latest demo outside Viridor's incinerator

Thanks to Maeve Tomlinson an excellent demonstration was held outside the incinerator construction site. We received some excellent coverage in the Sutton Guardian, Croydon Advertiser, Inside Croydon and even Radio Jackie!

Croydon Advertiser
Some videos of the event are here:

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

EU or not to EU by the sons of immigrants.

Pubs in North Croydon offer assistance!

I haven't had a chance to blog for a while but with the looming EU referendum, now just 2 days away, I felt I had to put a different perspective on what is billed as the 'once in generation vote.'

I remember vividly the first time I heard an Asian gentleman call up a radio station (LBC), during a phone in, to moan about immigrants coming in. It was all the more bizarre because he had a fairly strong accent. The presenter responded by quoting the lifting of drawbridge adage but that didn't seem to matter to the caller.

I have had many conversations about the EU vote with friends. The most fascinating conversations are with my Black and Minority Ethnic friends. We are all Londoners in our mid-40s, sons of immigrants, but also of an age to notice the relatively sudden change in the population demographics around us.

Anyway, I thought I would collate their thoughts in this blog:

Mr Saleh - REMAIN

Mr Saleh is voting REMAIN. When we last spoke about the vote, around a month ago, he was convinced that LEAVE wouldn't have a chance. His logic was that people in this country wouldn't vote for a self-imposed economic crash.

Mr Saleh returned to the UK this year after living and working in Dubai for around 17 years, although he has been back to visit on a number of occasions because his mum and dad are still living in London. He told me about walking down Oxford Street recently, and how he didn't hear a single English voice. Everyone was speaking in a foreign tongue. Everyone working in the shops and cafes didn't speak English as a first language. I noticed Mr Saleh posted the meme below on his FB timeline.

We talked about the impact of immigration and how the job market had become very competitive. It was clear to Mr Saleh that we were on the edge of another economic crash. He understood the global economy to be fragile and the repercussions of a BREXIT would make things a lot worse. I played devils advocate, and pointed out we were the the world's 5th largest economy. He replied that we were the 5th largest economy because we were in the EU.


I think during one conversation with Mr Nu I gleaned that he was very much a global citizen and as such the free movement of workers from the EU was limiting opportunities for Commonwealth citizens.

He sent me a message via Facebook last week:

"The economy seems to have flat-lined or be in stagnation. Young people in Italy, Portugal, Greece and Spain are coming to the UK as the EU project has not created employment opportunities. Where there is economic growth in developed economies, the companies are able to shelter their profits through tax shelters and thus the public purse does not increase, hence we have had economic growth without the treasury being able to pay off the public debt.

It strikes me that this model of economics, supported by the IMF, World Bank and major Central Banks is not working. The impact on the rest of the world is dire with most developing countries unable to make any development as they cannot invest in their infrastructure and the creation of a functioning state  as their income goes on debt repayments at staggering rates of interest (or stolen by corrupt regimes).

It strikes me that whether we stay in or out of the EU is not actually the issue. The issue is can anyone change economic policy which creates economic growth, which isn't squirreled away by large companies, to enable politicians to build more robust states. We saw Greece propose this, by voting in a party which would take them out of the Euro to enable them to print their own money and democracy was suspended in that country."

Mr Anenden - LEAVE

Mr Anenden and I spoke about the EU a few days after Green Party peer Jenny Jones appeared on Question Time. She self-described herself as a rebel within the Green party when explaining she was in favour of BREXIT. She made it clear that immigration was not a consideration when arriving at her decision. Instead the simple fact that the EU is unreformable has brought her to the gates of BREXIT. 

This is why Mr Anenden intends to vote LEAVE. He pointed out that if he wanted to vote out the government of the day in the UK he actually could do this. However, with the EU, he has no chance of voting out someone or some group if they decided to impose a policy he disliked. 

Mr Anenden posted on Facebook, "Yes I am voting BREXIT, howvever, I am fully aware of how poisonous the debate has been especially about immigrants. Luckily I am educated enough to discard that bullshit. Growing up in the 70s and 80s I was abused verbally and physically for being a Paki (even though my parents came from Mauritius)."

Mr Srinivason - REMAIN

Mr Srinivason has already voted REMAIN by postal vote. He pointed out to me in an email that, "the arguments put forward by the BREXIT camp just do not make sense to me and are not as persuasive or as rigorous as the case for staying in."

The economic arguments for staying in are important to Mr Srinivason but personalities are also playing a part for many when coming to their decision.

In his email Mr Srinivason said:

"One of the leading campaigners of the 'Out' campaign is Boris Johnson. On a purely personal level I cannot stand him and do not think he has any political intelligence. His persona of a 'harmless, lovable rogue' maybe enough to get him votes among some people but it doesn't work with me. Anything Boris puts his support is very, very unlikely to get my vote."

In addition, he points out, "I think we need to move away from an island nation mentality that people in the UK traditionally have. Many people still believe in British sovereignty  and that we are at battle with the Germans and French. I personally think we need to embrace Europe and have stronger links with them."

Mr Macey - REMAIN

A few months ago when I spoke to Mr Macey about the referendum, like Mr Saleh, he said BREXIT wasn't going to happen. When I saw him again last week, he reminded me that I told him not to presume it was a foregone conclusion. Quite crudely, if you add half the Conservative vote to the UKIP vote, and a third of the Labour vote - then you've already got 40 per cent. What is more, this 40 per cent is definitely voting on 23rd June. 

When we recently met, Mr Macey told me:

"I think there is a discussion to be had on whether the EU is beneficial. Unfortunately, the context of this referendum is one which will see us led out of Europe by extreme right wing ideology. These are people who would create more wealth for the already wealthy, who won't take care of those who need it, and who won't connect to people who really don't have a stake in their future."

My own view - REMAIN

with Jean Lambert MEP in 2006
Back in 2006, whilst on a trip to Belgium I was lucky enough to be shown around the European Parliament by long serving Green party MEP for London, Jean Lambert. A couple of years later I stood for the European Parliament. It would be a bit rich to stand for parliament that I didn't want, although this doesn't seem to bother the elected UKIP MEPs. 

My reasons for remaining have been succinctly given by my friends. My lingering doubts about the EU have also been captured by my friends.  I don't consider myself enthusiastic about remaining. I did the Crowdpac test and scored 62 per cent in favour of remaining - which feels about right.

It is human nature to recall some halcyon time when housing was affordable, jobs were available and commuting was navigable without congestion or frustration. This halcyon time is somewhere in between the UK being labelled the 'sick man of Europe' in the 1970s and Gordon Brown's continued pronouncements of 'no return to the boom-bust economy' in the 2000s.

Successful economies attract migrants and need migrants to sustain their success when ailing. Government policy needs to meet the demands of continued migration. However, Mr Nu explains why this is not happening. The result of this inequality, lack of housing and public service provision combined with a right wing media keen to distract from its own wealth directs focus on the immigrant community. My friends/contributors and I have all experienced the prejudice that results.

Flag of Esperanto [credit Grundin]

One final thought, when states at different points of the economic cycle try and unify, it is undoubtedly easier if they have a common language. USA, Germany (twice), Italy and even the United Kingdom come to mind. Maybe its time to introduce Esperanto in all schools!

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

What the incinerator looks like on 24th May 2016

Councillor Nick Mattey took this photo yesterday.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Jim Clugston RIP

Jim Clugston (left)

Earlier this month we heard that Jim Clugston had sadly passed away.

Jim was a unique individual. He lived in New Addington, which is demographically speaking the area in Croydon you are least likely to find a Green party member. The fact that the British National Party has attracted significant support in New Addington indicated how it is the polar opposite of North Laine in Brighton, for example.

I recall he told me his next door neighbour had a BNP poster on his their window!

Jim had stood for council elections in New Addington and had been active for a number of years. He was always on hand to support the local party, whether it be leafleting, writing letters to the local paper or standing as a candidate. He was very much active in the local CND group and was one of the first to embrace the transition town concept in Croydon. He was also someone who would take the time to send me an email (to comment/credit) if he spotted something Green party related in the local paper.

This blog has some record of this Green party activity here, including how he generated power from scrap metal!

In recent times, due to a misunderstanding, this is how I would describe it, with regard to a social media post, Jim had decided to distanced himself from the Green party. I think those of us who observed the episode were quite frankly disappointed it ever happened. I remember my colleague Bernice Golberg pointing out it reinforced her view to stay clear of social media.

It is sad to think we won't see Jim again.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

West Thornton By Election - MAY 5th 2016

Lady Emily Benn is off to New York. This has triggered a by election. Greens have an excellent candidate: David Beall. He's the only candidate who lives in the ward. This has not gone unnoticed.

Thornton Heath Community Action Team tweeted:

David and I have done a few bits of activism together over the years. The most famous one - which has nearly 7000 views - can be watched below. Mr Beall is Mr ANTI-ESSO MAN. Its not often you will see a candidate in his underwear...

Personal statement from David Beall.

My name is David Beall. I am 34 years of age and was born in Mayday Hospital and went to Gonville Primary School and the Archbishop Lanfranc School. I have lived in West Thornton ward since 1980. I am a qualified Mental Health Nurse and have been a community support worker before, during and after qualifying in the borough of Bromley.

This will be the third time David will be standing in West Thornton ward. He stood in 2010 and in 2014. In 2014 he was the highest placed candidate who wasn't a Labour or Tory, finishing highest among the Greens and above the Lib Dem and UKIP candidates. 

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A nice Selhurst to Woodside walk

Brickfields Meadow

On Good Friday this year I went on my favourite walk in Croydon. It is my favourite walk because it is through fields and grassland, yet you are in a very urban environment. 

I took a pic of my finishing point and it appeared in the Croydon Advertiser under YOUR VIEWS. 

The walk is from Heavers Meadow to Brickfields Meadow. The map above doesn't show the route!

1) From Selhurst station cross the road towards the Selhurst Rail Depot.
2) The entrance to Heavers Meadow is a few yards up the road towards Norwood Junction.
3) Walk along the path - watch for the giant rats!
4) You have no choice but to use Tennison Road to get over the railway lines.
5) Turn off the main road to Brickfields Meadow and enjoy the fish filled pond!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Croydon Derby - support your local clubs

This post was sent to Inside Croydon


I am a Croydon Athletic supporter. Saturday 6th March 2016 was derby day.  I met up with a friend at The Horsehoe pub on Thornton Heath pond to watch Tottenham v Arsenal, and after that game we walked down Silverleigh Road to the Mayfields Stadium to watch AFC Croydon Athletic v Croydon FC.

It was my first ever Croydon derby. A fixture between these two Croydon clubs is a rarity. Not only have these two clubs been in different divisions, but also in different leagues over the past few seasons.

Upon going through the turnstiles, I was immediately surprised by the number of supporters behind the Croydon (Trams) goal, the preferred location for the Croydon Athletic Rams Army. It seemed like a number of occasional attendees had made a special effort for the clash between Rams v Trams. I've been going to Mayfields since the 2006-07 season, and it was about as populated as its ever been behind the goal,

I usually bring a drum with me, which in recent matches has been played by young James who comes with his mum and dad. James was keen to have the drum again.

A quick scan of the terraces and stands indicated that the Trams had not bought many fans with them.

After the first Croydon Athletic attack, James had started the familiar 'Da-Da... Da-Da-Da...Da-Da-Da-Da' drum beat which finishes with the supporters chanting 'Croydon.' As if in auto-response mode, upon hearing the beat, I chanted Croydon with only a handful of others, only to see Mick look over at us and say, "think about it..."

Banter with Croydon keeper, Francis Ameyaw, started early with a rendition of the saxaphone solo from the Pink Panther theme. Well, what do you expect if you turn up to play in dayglo pink!

There ought to be a fierce rivalry between the Rams and the Trams but I have never got a sense that has been the case. Tackles weren't really flying on Saturday. There was one moment, shortly after commencement of the second half, when a couple of players confronted each other - but that happens in every game nowadays.

Croydon FC have hovered around the foot of the Southern Counties East - Premier Division for most of the season, whereas Croydon Athletic have been floating around the top half. If the league table is supposed to reflect the comparative standard of each team then it was wholly accurate with regards to this fixture.

The Rams took the lead in the 11th minute through a cool finish from striker Lee Jansen. In the 28th minute, top scorer Raheem Sterling-Parker was upended by goalkeeper Ameyaw resulting in a penalty. There's only one Raheem Sterling took the penalty himself and calmly slotted it away. Athletic pushed for a third goal but never seemed to get into a high gear. At the other end of the pitch the Rams keeper was largely untroubled.

In the second half, Athletic continued to control the game but found it difficult to add to their lead. I got the sense that the Rams were coasting to the finish line when out of the blue Lauris Chin pulled a goal back after a defensive mishap. Manager Anthony Williams went ballistic and screamed and shouted at the defence. Any complacency which had set in was soon erased and the Rams held on to win 2-1.

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Friday, March 18, 2016

How to deliver a very Tory budget.

Tuesday 15th March. A meeting is taking place at No. 10 Downing Street. Present are PM David Cameron, his next door neighbour, Inner Circle guy number 1 and Inner Circle guy number 2. 


(George Osborne is coming to the end of a run through of his budget speech)

George: "....and I commend this budget to the house!"

IC No. 2: "Good job Georgie. Bravo!"

Dave: "Isn't it a bit heavy on cut taxes for the rich and cut benefits for the disabled? 

IC No 1: "Not forgetting the wholesale privitsation of all schools through the academies programme."

Dave: "Not to mention public debt is rising and you're not going to make your budget surplus target."

George: "Yeah I know."

IC No.1: "We need a diversion."

IC No.2: "Agreed"

IC No.1: "What's that fellow Oliver off the TV lathering himself up about nowadays."

George: "School dinners??"

Dave: "No, you mean the 'sugar tax' on fizzy drinks? Yes, Sam mentioned it the other night."

IC No. 1: "Yes that's perfect! Give the corporations some time to administer a substitute like aspartame. The papers will be all over the 'sugar tax' story like a rash. The more controversial stuff will be in the inside pages. I'll have a word with you know who."

Dave: "It's still a very Tory budget. I mean, I like it George, don't get me wrong, but..."

IC No.2: "Hmmmm. Is the Home Secretary about?"

Dave: "What Teri?? I'll give her a call."

(Within 30 minutes the Home Secretary has joined the meeting. IC No.2 is giving her instructions)

IC No. 2: "So, are you okay with this? You'll have to make sure you sit to the left of George for maximum impact."

Theresa: "Yes. I think I have just the outfit."

Dave: "Are you sure you're okay with this, Teri? We need you and the 'sugar tax' to occupy the headlines if we're to slip this other stuff through."

Theresa: "So long as I can choose the colour Prime Minister."

IC No.1: "Twitter will go into meltdown over your cleavage, I am sure!"

(The next day - midway through George Osborne's speech)

George [turns to Theresa] : "Good show Teri, I think our plan will work."


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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Croydon is deathtown

According to The Architecture Foundation, owing to its 'uniformed commercial utility', 'Croydon is deathtown'. The actual quote appears on the Inside Croydon news site.
Occasionally, one spots an eye-catching natural phenomenon in among the sprawling metropolis that is Croydon town centre:

I sent in the picture above the Croydon Guardian:

Croydon Guardian 27.01.16

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

No need for new build with capacity elsewhere

Three weeks have elapsed since I sent in an open letter to the Croydon Advertiser regarding the incinerator and I still haven't seen a reply......

Dear Editor,

Croydon residents are entitled to submit written questions to councillors at full council meetings. The full details are on the council web site. Unfortunately, we are all restricted to submitting just one written question per a meeting. As I have used up my quota, I would like to send the following open question to the council as my next opportunity to submit a written question is in April 2016: 

In December Councillor Stuart Collins cited the waste hierarchy, where incineration is deemed preferable to landfill, in a written reply when explaining why 20 per cent of South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) rubbish - waste collected from Croydon, Sutton, Kingston and Merton - is being sent to the Colnbrook incinerator whilst Viridor’s incinerator in Beddington is under construction. He also stated that more of our waste will be diverted to Colnbrook in Berkshire. Colnbrook and Allington incinerator in Kent, have spare capacity, indeed the universally respected environmental consultants, Eunomia, who are actually contracted by the SLWP, state that there is over capacity across the country. Does Croydon council now accept that the Beddington incinerator is simply not needed? 

Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party & Stop the Incinerator
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Sunday, February 14, 2016

Solidarity with the junior doctors

Outside the main entrance of the local hospital

Earlier this week, whilst on en route to my daughter's nursery, I decided to take a detour and support the striking junior doctors outside Croydon University Hospital, formerly known as Mayday Hospital. A registrar (junior doctor) at Mayday was on hand at the birth of our daughter when complications developed and I felt it was important to physically show support.

In a backdrop of corporations and multi-billionaires enjoying increased wealth through tax avoidance, I think most people would want doctors not to endure a real terms pay cut when morale is already low in the NHS. The thought of overworked and underpaid surgeons is not a happy thought if you are a patient about to drift off under anesthetic. If the frequency of honking from passing vehicles was an indicator of support, then it was evident that the public support the strike.

This pay cut is part of a systematic squeeze on our public servants. Secretaries of State don't simply impose pay cuts on those who in our mind save our lives. Just like the Fire Service before, they dress it up as remuneration refinement to make an overall saving in wages. I chatted at length to one of the strikers who was in his final year as junior doctor. He saw it the same way as I did. He also predicted that that the new contracts would simply be imposed - which they were the day after. 

In attempting to win the argument Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt misquoted data regarding hospital deaths at weekends. Watching Jeremy Hunt on the Andrew Marr show was the extra inspiration I needed to take that detour and join the strikers on Wednesday 10th February.

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Friday, February 12, 2016

Private Eye and other articles about the incinerator.

Its a weird time for us anti-incinerator campaigners. Despite losing the judicial review and seeing first hand the commencement of the construction of the incinerator, it feels like the negative publicity of the whole scheme has never been so high. Ever since Sian Berry and a small group of us ventured on to the Viridor site by accident, I've been struggling to keep a note of all the articles over the last 8 weeks..

I haven't had a chance to report on Sian's December visit on this blog, but the photograph below shows just how jittery the authorities and Viridor are. You can just make out  Andrew Turner, the key man for communications at Viridor, lurking behind the fence. A better picture of Spin Merchant Turner is on the Inside Croydon site. Why is he there? Answer: THERE IS ENOUGH SH!T FLYING AROUND TO STILL HAVE AN IMPACT ON THIS SCHEME AND EVERYONE ON THE DARKSIDE IS FEARFUL.

However the precise answer is here:

A handful of anti-incinerator campaigners met at Beddington Lane tram stop and walked along Beddington Lane to the Viridor site. Maeve Tomlinson suggested that we could head towards the site office. Whilst wandering down the access road, we were approached by a couple of Viridor employees wearing hi-viz. At first we thought they were construction workers but one of them turned out to be Andrew Turner! After chatting and answering questions, in what was a very cagey exchange, we wanted to take a photo to record Sian's visit. Mr Turner explained that this was Viridor's property, as was the access road and so no photos were permitted. This meant we had to cross the road to the other side of Beddington Lane (same side as ASDA). So we did. To our amazement, Mr Turner shepherded us off site, across the road and then stood behind the fence observing us as we took photographs!

Beddington, Pyongyang, N Korea - Andrew Turner on his mobile

The incinerator site is behind us. I guess Sian and I are seeing the funny side of being spied on!

I am struggling to find the article, but recently John and Elaine Drage have resigned as Secretary and Chair of the Sutton Lib Dems and moved up north! John Drage is up to his neck in controversy over the whole scheme.

Apart from two stories in Private Eye (below), one on Virdor's failure to comply with conservation on Beddington Farmlands, and Councillor Nick Mattey's explulsion from the Lib Dems, for daring to oppose the incinerator, there's an article on burning rubbish meant for recycling, the non-use of the waste heat, and Councillor Nick Mattey's appeal.

From Private Eye

From Private Eye

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Council answer football question with a straight bat!?

Last month local papers splashed on two Croydon councillors caught ball watching Crystal Palace playing Sunderland on their tablet during a full council meeting on a Monday evening. The story went national - The Daily Telegraph and The Sun covered it.

I spoke to an ex-councillor who had, "no sympathy for them because they could have sat on members seats under the public gallery" and thus avoided being caught with their shorts down.

At the time I felt Councillor Wentworth was in a tricky position as he was part of the 2014 intake, and thus should NOT be displaying such irreverent activity towards his constituents when technically a new recruit. Councillor Ryan on the other hand has a strong track record of hard work in Upper Norwood ward and could be forgiven for this indiscretion. I first stood against him in 2006. Back then his strong personal support resulted in his re-election whilst his fellow Labour councillors lost their seats.

I sent in a cheeky question which I think the councillor in charge of sport plays with a particularly straight bat!


From Mr Shasha Khan  
Councillor Timothy Godfrey Cabinet Member for culture, Leisure and Sport  
Question No. PQ037-16  

If the Football Supporters Federation started a ‘Keep league matches on Saturday afternoons’ campaign in support of children who can’t get to watch football games on Monday nights, and of course other groups, would this council back such a campaign?  

The Council is supportive of making football and other sports accessible and affordable to all supporters particularly for young people.  
As a result of the commercial issues that professional football has including those from TV to meet their broadcasting requirements the trend has been to have some weekday matches particularly on a Monday.  
Saturday afternoons is the traditional time for football matches as it enables supporters to attend with friends, as family groups and as part of the Football Community.  
Costs of attending matches is also a key issue for supporters and the Council welcomes initiatives by football clubs including its home Club Crystal Palace FC to reduce ticket prices and increase access to groups including young people. 
The Council is also supportive of local clubs such as Croydon FC and Croydon Athletic FC and would support initiatives to increase attendances by local football followers. 

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

8th Annual Eco-Disco

The young ones dancing at the Eco Disco

Last Sunday was Sutton and Croydon Green Party's latest Eco-Disco fundraiser held at the Oval Tavern in Croydon.

As usual an eclectic mix of music was played including:

The Ugly Duckling
Let It Go - Demi Lovato
When Doves Cry - Prince
Bat Out of Hell - Meatloaf

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Friday, January 08, 2016

Cabinet member answers written question on waste


From Mr Shasha Khan

To Councillor Stuart Collins Cabinet Member for Clean, Green Croydon

Question No. PQ055-15

The Viridor landfill site at Beddington Farmlands has a license that ends in 2023. The South London Waste Partnership was formed to deal with its waste locally, within Croydon, Sutton, Kingston and Merton. Why therefore will all the SLWP waste, including Croydon’s, be sent to a site near Heathrow?


As you would expect, Croydon and the South London Waste Partnership work to manage our waste as sustainably as possible. In the first instance this means that we reduce, reuse and recycle as much as possible. For waste that remains, landfill is the least sustainable option for disposal. While the local landfill option is available at Beddington Lane, the boroughs continue to deliver waste here and at the same time construction has started on the Beddington Lane Energy Recovery Facility. Through the Partnership’s contract with Viridor, residual waste has consistently been diverted from landfill where possible and in 2014/15, 20% of the Partnership’s waste went to the Lakeside ERF. The Partnership is exploring options for waste disposal for residual waste during the construction period for the ERF as, now that the facility will be completed later than initially anticipated, it may be necessary to have an alternative provision in place; this could include sending more waste to an alternative ERF for a brief period.

I asked the above question because Councillor Nick Mattey has calculated that the landfill cell space at Beddington Farmlands has almost come to an end. This link  reveals just how much space Viridor secured in 2004 when they purchased the site. The Pennon Group (Viridor's parent company) article states 4m cubic metres of consented capacity was purchased. The license Viridor obtained allowed them to deal with 400,000 tonnes of waste a year. The maths suggest that by 2014 the site must be close to capacity.

One can argue, Viridor's tactic was purchase  the site, acquire the extension - knowing there was practically no spare capacity past 2015, and then switch to an incinerator with a view to telling the public they would get their country park in 2017 - 6 years earlier - as a sweetener.

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Standing up for what matters