Lambeth Council opens fake Carnegie library
Carnegie Library, Herne Hill, London. Thu 15 Feb 2018
Library campaigners listen as they are told the Carnegie
Library is an unsafe building and advised to leave
Library campaigners protest outside the Grade II listed Carnegie Library
as Lambeth Council re-opened the building as a temporary measure in advance
of local elections.
In the longer term the library facilities will be moved into two smaller
rooms, only open when library staff are on site for around two hours per
day. The current main library area will be run as a hall that can be hired,
but will have no kitchen facilities.
Work is still continuing on the building where millions have been spent
excavating a pay-to-use basement gym no one wants with limited facilities
and ceiling so low that will make it impossible for people to jump - exercising
will be on machines.
The gym facility will almost certainly will require continued subsidies
to Greenwich Leisure Limited in addition to the money spent on the building
works, which campaigners expect to rise to around £7m.
The campaigners who went into the library when it opened to the public
at 1pm included Unison safety inspectors, and after we had been inside for
15 minutes e were ad leave when they declared the premises unsafe. Unison
members are being advised not to work there.
The only fire exit is through the building works and along a corridor lined
with Calor gas cylinders. The former toilet facilities in the basement are
no longer available and temporary toilet facilities have been provided in
a room overlooked by the windows of neighbouring houses and the toilet was
found to be discharging into the waste outlet of a kitchen sink. The public
entrance is up a flight of external steps and there is no disabled access
to the library, making it unsuitable for public use. There is also no proper
heating system, with dangerous electric fires in use.
There seemed to be no other members of the public interested in the re-opening
of the library, which was being staffed by managers from the council, who
tried to prevent the safety inspection. After we left there were speeches
on the library steps, where the council was condemned for its destruction
of a much used library and wasting council money on a gym which few will
want and which duplicates local private provision. They see the re-opening
of the building a few months before May's council elections as a cynical
ploy by Lambeth Labour to keep councillors in seat, and it was hard to argue
with that assessment.
Grenfell Remembered - 8 Months On
Kensington, London. Wed 14 Nov 2018
The march passes a car with posters on it on Kensington
The monthly silent walk marks 8 months since the Grenfell Tower Fire
and 8 months over which the voices of the community continue to be ignored.
Seven months ago Theresa May promised all Grenfell residents would be rehoused
within three weeks. Four-fifths of those made homeless have yet to be found
a permanent home. The inquiry, taking place in the City of London far from
Grenfell has refused the community request to have a greater involvement,
and the next session has been put off for a further month.
While previous monthly marches have been around the area of Grenfell, the
organisers decided to make the event more visible by marching from Kensington
Town Hall along Kensington High Street before turning north to go towards
The march took place in steady rain. After I had marched with them along
Kensington High St I was cold and wet and one of my cameras was going haywire,
and I left for home. I missed two trains as my ticket was wet and stuck
in the barrier and it took around ten minutes for the member of staff on
duty to find a working key and retreive it.
Russia Stop the Killing, Leave Syria
Russian Embassy, London. Sat 10 Feb 2018
Protesters with the Free Syrian flag and placards
opposite the Russian Embassy
Protesters opposite the Russian Embassy accuse Russia and the Assad
regime of war crimes in Syria and tell the Russians to leave the country.
The protest organised by Syria Solidarity Campaign came after some of the
largest massacres since the chemical attack last April, killing women and
children in Idlib where there have been continued widely reported chemical
attacks and bombing targeted at hospitals and medical teams.
The recent surge of attacks follows the shooting down of a Russian jet
over Idlib by Syrian freedom fighters using a Russian-made man-portable
Ladbroke Grove Pret-a-Manger land theft
Notting Hill, London. Fri 9 Feb 2018
join in the protest outside Pret-a-Manger, opened on land in trust to the
Community groups in North Kensington protest against the newly-opened
Pret-a-Manger which has opened under Westway on Ladbroke Grove. The space
above it is being fitted out for an expensive private prep school.
The say the land which was formerly the Westway Information Centre
was part of that left in trust for community use and accuse the Royal Borough
of Kensington & Chelsea, then under the leadership of the now disgraced
Nick Paget-Brown and Rock Feilding Mellen, of pursuing an asset-sweating
strategy which prioritised the commercial value of public land, casting
such issues as residents’ consent, public access, and public amenities.
They say this is theft of community land with the site being developed
on the ground floor as the Pret-a-Manger chain outlet, and above it a private
£6,000 per term prep school.
After the fire disaster in nearby Grenfell Tower the council has claimed
that there will be ‘change’ and there will be ‘listening’
under the new leadership of Elizabeth Campbell and Kim Taylor-Smith and
the protesters call on them to urgently rethink the development plans and
return the site to serve the needs of the community.
Class War protest at Shard
London Bridge, London. Thu 8 Feb 2018
A police officer tells Jane Nicholl she has to move
across the road
Class War protest outside The Shard this evening after defeating the
attempt by lawyers representing the Qatari Royal Family who own the building
to take out an injunction to prevent their protest.
The protesters at the Shard point out that it contains ten £50 million
pound apartments there which have remained empty since the building was
completed, and that there are plans to build a further 26,000 flats costing
more than a million pounds each, many replacing current social housing a
time when London has a huge housing crisis with thousands sleeping on the
street, and over 100 families from Grenfell are still in temporary accommodation.
Class War say there are already a huge number of empty properties in London,
many in large development of high priced flats which either remain unsold
or are bought as investments and largely unoccupied.
The High Court had received an undertaking from Ian Bone that he would
not personally enter the building, but his health problems meant he was
in any case unable to attend this protest. There were large numbers of police
and security men, including a number in plain clothes in the area and two
with search dogs, but the protest was peaceful as had been planned.
The protesters were careful to remain outside the boundary of The Shard,
marked with a metal line in the pavement, but police still tried to move
them away to the other side of the road, making the patently spurious claim
that they were causing an obstruction to commuters attempting to enter London
Bridge station. The police were obviously causing a rather larger obstruction
than Class War.
Class War victory against Qatari Royals
High Court, The Strand, London. Thu 8 Feb 2018
Ian Bone raises a fist as he comes out of the Royal Courts of Justice
Ian Bone emerged triumphant from the High Court after stopping an attempt
by lawyers acting for the Qatari royal family to prevent a Class War protest
against the ten empty £50million pound apartments in The Shard.
The Qataris' lawyers had tried to get an injunction against protests by
Bone and "persons unknown" and to claim over £500
in legal costs from the 70 year-old south London pensioner, but once the
had been contacted by barrister Ian Brownhill who had offered to conduct
Bone's defence pro bono they immediately offered to drop the case if Class
War 'would stop attacking the Shard'.
Their attempt to stifle protest was covered in national and international
media including an article by Suzanne Moore in The Guardian and
another in Le Monde and many more. In the High Court the Qataris'
lawyers were forced to drop the attempt to ban protests and the demand for
fees but Bone accepted a legal restriction on him going inside the Shard
and its immediate vicinity. The planned protest went ahead as planned later
in the day.
Outside the court Bone addressed a small crowd of supporters who had come
to welcome him, giving them the news of Class War's court victory, and reading
out one of the documents presented by the court about Class War which made
it sound a rather more impressive and powerful organisation than the small
but influential irritant to the rich and unscrupulous it is. The police
seem to share the lawyers delusions of grandeur, an unusually strong police
presence outside the court and around a corner clearly outnumbering the
Class War supporters.
Among other documents presented by the Qataris' lawyers was one with some
clearly defamatory false statements about another person associated with
Class War who was not named in the injunction and which appeared, along
with some of the photographs in their submission to have been obtained from
police sources rather than publicly available information. Perhaps this
was not surprising, as the Head of Security at The Shard went to the job
after retiring as a police commander. Police have previously carried out
a number of clearly malicious arrests of people from Class War during protests,
where their cases have either been dropped before coming to court or thrown
out by the courts.
Plasticus the Whale at Parliament
Old Palace Yard, Westminster, London. Tue 6th Feb 2018
One second of plastic dumped in the ocean make up
Plasticus the whale
Plasticus the Whale from Sky Ocean Rescue, made of a quarter of a
ton of plastic waste, the amount dumped in the ocean every second - a total
of 8 million tons a year, was outside Parliament today in its campaign to
stop the damage to the world's oceans caused by single use plastic.
Last August it toured a dozen locations in England, Wales and Scotland
to highlight the problem. Sky Ocean Rescue is an initiative of Sky UK, part-owned
by Rupert Murdoch. Many feel this surprising as his companies seldom seem
to have very positive record in promoting environmental matters and opposing
man-made climate change.
Sling the Mesh say campaigners
Parliament Square, London. Tue 6th Feb 2018
A campaigner holds a poster showing a surgeon labelling
a patient as hysterical for reporting her pain
Campaigners protest in Parliament Square on the 100th anniversary of
the first votes for women in the UK calling for a suspension on the use
of mesh implants to treat incontinence and prolapse often caused by childbirth.
Many of those in the mesh campaign are suffering from the effects of these
implants which can cause severe pain, disability and loss of sex life, and
their use was suspended in Scotland in 2014.
Women say surgeons ignore women and claim their symptoms are not caused
by the mesh and many women are made to feel they are making up their symptoms.
The NHS say the risk is 1 to 3% but campaigners say that at least one in
seven women suffer and that the mesh has only been clinically tested on
animals and no long-term trial has taken place on women.
Fair Votes Hunger Strike for Democracy
Parliament Square, London. Tue 6 Feb 2018
Campaigners pose for a group photograph in Parliament
Campaigners pose in Parliament Square as four hundred fair vote campaigners
take part in a 24 hour hunger strike, #Hungry4Democracy, organised by Make
Votes Matter (MVM) in protest against our dysfunctional electoral system
and to urge Proportional Representation.
The event took place on the centenary of the 1918 the Representation of
the People Act when for the first time some women and all men over 21 in
the UK gained the right to vote. MVM point out that although now everyone
can vote, for over two thirds of us our vote has no effect on the result,
"either going to losing candidates or piling up in safe seats without
influencing the makeup of Parliament."
They call for a proportional representation system where the proportion
of seats won by a party matches the proportion of votes, as is already the
case in elections in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London.
The campaign has wide support from both the Green Party and the Lib-Dems
who would gain greatly from it and a number of MPs and Peers have given
their support. Among those who came were Peter Tatchell from the Peter Tatchell
Foundation, Vince Cable, Green Party co-Chair Jon Bartley and President
of the UK Liberal Democrats Baroness Sal Brinton.
Save Brixton Arches: 3rd Anniversary Action
Brixton, London. Sun 4 Feb 2018
Green Party candidate Rashid Nix was one of the speakers
Campaigners marked the third anniversary of the announcement by Network
Rail of their plans to redevelop the Brixton Arches with a rally and a three
Railway arches such as these have traditionally been home to small, local
businesses, and some of those at Brixton had been there for many years,
becoming well-known and respected in the area. The area and its small traders
who have been displaced (a few are still fighting to remain) has been described
as the 'heart of Brixton'. Network Rail want to get a greater financial
return from these and other rail arches and the refurbishment will enable
them to "triple the rents, insert shiny new businesses and provide
Brixton with even more over-priced bars and restaurants than the town’s
citizens can shake a stick at."
Network Rail have colluded with Lambeth Council to get rid of something
that gave Brixton its unique character and replace it by trendier shops
catering for the new wealthy young population - part of Lambeth Labour's
programme of social cleansing which includes demolishing council estates
and replacing them with high cost private accommodation (with a token amount
of so-called affordable properties.) The Council ignored the public outcry
and large demonstrations to keep the arches.
The plans were accompanied by a great deal of lies and mismanagement by
Network Rail and work was supposed to be completed by 2016 but is only scheduled
to start tomorrow, and the Save Brixton Arches campaign are calling for
it to be abandoned as the plans for the work fail to include proper fire
safety precautions and will severely restrict access by emergency services
to local businesses and the railway and station.
They also call on Lambeth Council to insist that the conditions of the
planning permission that included no adverse effect on the market traders
in Brixton Station Road be applied, as the work as planned will produce
dust and pollution which will almost certainly force those who prepare food
in the area out of business. They point out that there are no safety measures
to protect local businesses, young children in the nearby crèche
or the general public from potentially dangerous airborne particles during
the removal of asbestos.
There was also a call for an investigation into local Labour MP Helen Hayes,
elected in 2015, who until she resigned shortly before the election was
a senior partner in the firm Allies & Morrison which made the recommendation
for the 'improvement' of the arches in 2013, though she has denied any personal
involvement. A&M have been involved in many contentious 'regeneration'
schemes with developers and councils across London which opponents describe
as social cleansing.
Fix the NHS Crisis Now
Gower St to Downing St, London. Sat 3 Feb 2018
'I'm a bleating activist' was the message on the sheep
Tens of thousands marched in support of the NHS through London to a
rally at Downing St calling on the Government to stop blaming patients,
nurses, doctors, immigrants, flu and the elderly for the crisis in the health
service and to fund it properly and bring it back into public hands from
the waste and demands of private profit.
Outsourcing of services has damaged the efficiency of the NHS and created
dangerously low standards of hygiene, while expensive PFI building contracts
have left many hospital trusts with impossible long-term debt repayments.
Many in the Conservative Party have financial interests in healthcare companies
and their policies are clearly designed to carry out a creeping privatisation
of the NHS, setting up various devices including STPs and ACSs (Sustainability
and transformation partnerships and accountable care systems) which obligate
the tendering of NHS services to private healthcare providers, and large
areas of NHS services now provided by companies such as Virgin Healthcare.
The march gathered along Gower St, filling it from the Euston Road down
to Chenies St by the start, with more people still arriving. I never managed
to see the rear of the march, but it was estimated to be over 50,000 people.
I walked down with it taking pictures until I was on Shaftesbury Ave, and
stood there as the march went past, but there was no sign of the end when
I had to leave to rush down to Downing St for the rally.
The event was organised by Health Campaigns Together & The People's
Assembly and speakers at the rally included Royal College of Nursing President
Cecilia Anim, activist David M Bailey and others from the medical profession,
Shadow Health minister John Ashworth, Gail Cartmell of Unite and the TUC,
actor Ralf Little, and Paula Peters of Disabled People Against Cuts. But
the speaker who moved us all to tears as she spoke through hers was Nicky
Romero, whose daughter Becky died because of lack of NHS resources.
TINAG Living Archive & Sylvia McAdam
Bishopsgate Institute, London. Thu 1 Feb 2018
Canadian Cree Sylvia McAdam (Saysewahum), advocate
for First Nation and Environmental rights
This Is Not A Gateway, organised by Trenton Oldfield and Deepa Naik, is
a not-for-profit organisation that since 2007 has created platforms for
critical investigations into cities through work with their Myrdle Court
Press, urban studies, salons and a number of festivals.
Back in 2009, I took part in the festival with Paul Baldesare, where we
did short presentations based on the group show 'Taken
in London' which was then showing a mile or so away, and I've also been
to some other TINAG events.
TINAG now has funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Arts Council
to produce a Living Archive of their decade of work in partnership with
the Bishopsgate Institute. The aim of the archive is to continue to platform
the important contributions made to This Is Not A Gateway since 2007. It
will be available online and physically at the Bishopsgate Institute.
The launch event for this Living Archive included a short presentations
by Steff Dickers from the Bishopsgate Institute and Trenton about the Living
Archive project and then a presentation by special guest Sylvia McAdam (Cree
name Saysewahum) a Canadian Cree, a a citizen of the nêhiyaw Nation
and a lawyer and advocate for First Nation and Environmental rights in Canada
who co-founded the 'Idle No More' movement of indigenous people.
She described the thoughts and world view of nêhiyawak, Cree laws
which are shared and passed down through oral tradition and landbased
use, utilizing stories, songs, ceremonies, and other sacred rites, and how
these operate, as well as how they have been sidelined through the process
of colonisation, and the apparatus of systematic repression and genocide,
with various treaties which failed to respect the traditional world view,
as well as Acts of Parliament which listed over 200 crimes which could only
be committed by an "Indian" including holding a potlatch, hiring
a lawyer to pursue land rights, keeping a child home from Indian Residential
School and travelling without permission given by an Indian Agent.
There has been a huge programme of resistance across Canada led in recent
years by the Idle No More movement particularly against threats to the environment,
such as the Alberta Tar Sands.
McAdam came to London in 2013 and recorded an
interview in the same library, though there are many other videos by
her available on YouTube
and Video, including
a talk she gave in Toronto in 2014.
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