Wednesday, December 03, 2014

A night out with the stars




A good while back a got a call from a Croydon Guardian reporter saying that I had been nominated for the Croydon Guardian Croydon Champions Community Champion award. The reporter told me that a friend had nominated me, primarily for my efforts in trying to stop the incinerator. The reporter basically asked me to sell myself, not something I find easy to do.

The sales pitch appeared in the Croydon Guardian a couple of weeks later. Then about a month ago, I was advised by email I was one of the three finalists for the Community Champion award. This came as a surprise because the stop the incinerator campaign can be quite political at times. However, I think my other bits of community campaigning added weight to my nomination. I was sent two tickets to the ceremony at the Hilton Hotel.

The awards are now in their 13th year which gives an indication of how they have become a major annual event. I went along with my dad. When I got there I recognised one or two faces including Robert Gibson from Save Upper Norwood Library. He was there as a nominee for Team Of The Year. Robbie and I had an opportunity to have a good catch up on our respective campaigns after the ceremony.

The winner of the Community Champion award was one of the first to be announced. The format was that the guest who opened the envelope,in our case Nick Hitchens, Assistant Editor of the Croydon Guardian, announced the Highly Commended award and then the winner. Nick announced Fred Wallis first as Highly Commended. Mr Wallis was influential in stopping Purley Swimming Pool from closure. Therefore, the winner was either Fatima Koroma or yours truly. When an audio was played of each of the nominees, I immediately felt that Fatima should win. She founded Croydon Foodbank and works there everyday.

Three finalists for Community Champion on screen (my dad in the foreground)

My heart started beating fast as the announcement was about to be made for the winner. To my relief Fatima won! Everyone on my table turned to offer me commiserations. It was all a bit surreal, it felt like being at the OSCARS!! I didn't feel unlucky at all. I was honoured and humbled to be on the shortlist. Fatima is a deserved winner and I genuinely would have felt embarrassed if I had won. We exchanged messages via twitter afterwards.

The night progressed with one amazing trio of unsung heroes after another vying for their respective award. A wheelchair bound man sitting on the same table as me won the Sporting Champion award. Ten years ago this bus driver was left paralysed after being brutally assaulted on his bus at West Croydon. He has rebuilt his life, and become national disabled champion and then world disabled champion at lawn bowls! He was in tears when he won. I felt my eyes start to fill with tears on his and other stories of bravery.

At the end of the night we were presented with a commemorative booklet with all the results. My dad spotted my face on the inside back cover among all the other Commended. 



To quote Nick Hitchens, who wrote an introduction on the inside cover of the booklet:

Greatness should not be measured in the number of boutique shops in the High Street or flashy skyscrapers punctuating the skyline, bus also by the character of the people who live here.

Well done Croydon Guardian! A full list of winners is here
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Monday, December 01, 2014

OFCOM reply re excluding Greens from TV Debates



A fairly considered response to my enquiry. In the letter the Complaints Analyst refers to the 'major parties', I've looked these up. Presently, in Great Britain the 'major parties' are defined as the Conservative Party, Labour Party and Liberal Democrats. Evidently, regulation needs to catch up with public opinion,

I was pleased to see that the Green Party is not giving up on the TV debates, indicating a claim may be pursued. Interestingly, the Green Party solicitor is Leigh Day. I had approached Leigh Day a couple weeks back to act as my new solicitors for the incinerator judicial review. They advised me they just didn't have the capacity to take on my case, not surprising when the prospect of litigation regarding Green party exclusion from the TV Debates is looming.
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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Meet the Croydon candidates On Saturday 29th November


Picture from the 2005 General Election stall in the town centre.

Just to let everyone now, all three prospective parliamentary candidates, Esther Sutton, Peter Underwood and yours truly, will be in Croydon on Saturday 29th November. Come and meet us.

Our Green Party stall will be located in approximately in the same position (outside the main whitgift entrance on North End from 10am onwards) as the picture above, although Levi's Store is now a mobile phone shop!

Look forward to seeing you there.

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Sunday, November 09, 2014

Incinerator contract.



Quite a bit of discussion on twitter recently regarding the incinerator contract between the South London Waste Partnership (SLWP) and Viridor. Earlier this year I received this redacted version. Quoting the council officer who supplied it to me, " it is large" but hopefully interested observers can view it now.

DROPBOX Link is here

PDF-Archive link is here :
pdf document: Project Agreement front end reacted version.pdf
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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Where's your moratorium now?

The current edition of Croydon Guardian has photo of mine in Viewfinder:


Viewfinder is on the letters page. On this page is a letter from Nia (The Lois Project). She writes about Broad Green being "choked with the amount of flats being built." This got me thinking again about the response I received at Public Question Time earlier this month:
From Mr Shasha Khan 
Councillor Alison Butler  
Cabinet Member for Homes and Regeneration  
Question No. 
PQ058-14 

At the Broad Green hustings, for the 2014 council elections, Labour panellist,
Councillor Stuart Collins, said that he had been calling for a moratorium on new development in the London Road/Broad Green area. Now that Labour control the council, is a moratorium on new development in place in this area? 
Reply 

The new administration is committed to the regeneration of the London Road/Broad Green area. As local planning authority the Council are required in law to consider any scheme on its individual merits in line with the London Plan and the Croydon Local Plan and any other material planning considerations.

Green Party candidate Pravina Ellis and Cllr Stuart Collins
Picture taken at the Broad Green hustings just days before the local elections which Labour won

I find a good way to let off steam about politicians seemingly saying one thing but doing another is to write a letter. I've just sent this to the Croydon Guardian:

22.10.14

Dear Editor

I completely agree with The Lois Project [Residents should be consulted over plans for more buildings], West Croydon, Broad Green in particular is being overdeveloped at an astonishing pace, with little thought for the quality of life for those living here.

Interestingly, Broad Green Labour councillor Stuart Collins is not oblivious to the situation. At the Broad Green hustings, just before the May local elections, he advised those present that he had been calling on the Conservative administration to impose a “moratorium” on all new development in Broad Green until an infrastructure review had been carried out. Everyone in the room supported him.

Now that Labour controls the council, surely we can look forward to a moratorium on Broad Green development? I am afraid not. At a recent Croydon Council Public Question Time I asked about the moratorium, and the response was “the new administration is committed to the regeneration of the Broad Green area.” For “regeneration” read overdevelopment.

Those attending that Broad Green hustings have a right to feel disappointed with Councillor Collins.

Yours sincerely

Shasha Khan

Green Party PPC for Croydon North

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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Press release going out today - Parliamentary candidates announced.

Croydon Green Party Announces Prospective Parliamentary Candidates

22 October 2014

Today, Croydon Green Party declared that Shasha Khan, Esther Sutton, and Peter Underwood have been selected to stand as Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) in Croydon North, Croydon Central and Croydon South respectively.
The Green Party’s share in opinion polls has been rising steadily and is currently polling 8 per cent nationally (1), one per cent more than the Lib Dems. In what has been described as the #greensurge, membership is presently increasing by 1000 per week. In the local elections earlier this year Greens fielded a full slate of 70 candidates across the borough polling well over 20,000 votes.

Shasha Khan – Croydon North
Shasha has lived in the constituency since 1982, He is 42 and married with one daughter He has a Politics and Economics degree from University of Wolverhampton. Over the years he has worked as youth worker, Diverse London Ambassador and presently, he is a hotelier. He is the co-coordinator of the Croydon Green Party.
He has been involved in multiple local campaigns for many years. In particular the Stop The Incinerator campaign, Friends of Thornton Heath Recreation Ground (which he founded) and Croydon Save Our Schools.
Shasha Khan said, “The General Election in 2015 will be the fourth time I'll be standing in Croydon North (2). The track record I have of serving, protecting and improving the community I live in is a good indicator to what people can expect if they elect me as their MP.”

Esther Sutton – Croydon Central
Award winning (3) local businesswoman Esther Sutton, 41, has lived in Croydon nearly all her life. She lives in the constituency and coincidentally is a former classmate of Sarah Jones the Labour PPC (4). She is a single mother of two and both her children are at Croydon schools.
In 2013 Esther's ability to inspire and enrich the lives of others was recognised by a national newspaper.(5)
Through her involvement with Croydon Old Town Business Association, Croydon Portas Pilot project, Croydon Pubwatch and Croydon BID she is well known in the business community.
She was involved in the recent “Are You Safe?” anti-domestic abuse campaign in Croydon and is on the Local Alcohol Action Area steering group. In 2013
Esther Sutton said, “I believe The Green Party is the only real alternative, and the only party with robust policies on social justice and the environment. I am looking forward to spreading the word, attracting votes as I go, to win this marginal seat.”

Peter Underwood – Croydon South
Campaigner Peter Underwood ,43, has lived in the constituency for over 12 years. He currently works as the Warden of South Norwood Country Park, helping local primary schools and residents to appreciate the natural world on their doorstep.
Peter moved to London after university and he spent a number of years working in the civil service: initially in the Benefits Agency, then DWP policy and parliamentary teams before moving over to renewable energy policy in DECC.
He is the current chair Croydon Friends of the Earth and a committee member of both the Friends of Littleheath Woods and the Selsdon Residents Association.

Peter Underwood said, I am very pleased to be selected by local Green Party members as a candidate for the General Election. Voters in Croydon South are being ignored by the other parties - they assume that people will just vote the same way that they always have. I believe that people are looking for a change and the Green Party provides a positive and sensible set of polices for the future. I hope that the people of Croydon South will help make history by electing me as one of the new Green Party MPs at the upcoming election.”

Ends

Notes:

  1. 2005, 2010 and 2012 (By election)
  2. CAMRA awards and Best Bar None (2009)
  3. Old Palace School for Girls (http://www.oldpalace.croydon.sch.uk)



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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

TV DEBATES. Do you agree with Dave from Watford?



When I first saw on twitter that the Green Party had been excluded from the TV debates, I had to do a double take. I distinctly recall David Cameron favouring a 2-3-5 (2- Conservative/Labour, 3 -Conservative/Labour/LibDem and 5 - Conservative/Labour/LibDem/UKIP/Green) approach to the TV debates.

Spontaneously, petitions and suggestions of action were being circulated on social media. One of the first I read was to telephone OFCOM. I did this . I must have been one of the first because the agent didn't know about the proposal from BBC, ITV, SKYNews and Channel 4. He advised that he couldn't take the complaint for BBC but would send the complaint to the other three stations and the Contents and Standards Team will post on the OFCOM web site if there indeed is a breach of code.

There are possibly three reasons why the Greens are being excluded:

1) A combination of position in the polls, elected MPs and by-election results.
2) Conducting a debate with five candidates is not conducive to good TV or easily manageable*
3) "The powers that be do not want the Green Party message to be heard." Something that Dave from Watford thinks on the radio phone-in vid.

* Darren Johnson AM has suggested this format if he were in charge - which is fair:
Debate one - Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, UKIPDebate two - Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, Green.
Debate three - Conservative, Labour, SNP, Plaid Cymru
Northern Ireland - given the choice of parties is entirely different here I'd also run an additional debate for Northern Ireland voters.


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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Truth serum definitely needs to go into the drinking water

Scanned from Croydon Citizen (Sept 2014 edition)

I have long felt that Croydon is being held back by the tribal nature of the political discourse in our borough. Through custom and habit, probably 3/4 of the electorate file outside their homes on election day to put an 'X' by their party for life. Policies are secondary. The adversarial style of our democracy cements the idea that you had better plump for the usual because the other lot could get in.

The only way to truly stop this from happening is to start afresh with a whole new set of political parties or to find a way to stop people voting in this tribal fashion. If the electorate somehow forgot who they had voted for in the past, maybe that would stop this tribalism. So, when I saw that Croydon Citizen were running a feature on how could Croydon be improved, I came up with the truth serum idea:

I would make Croydon better by...
I would make Croydon better by releasing a de-tribalising truth serum into the drinking water so that the Croydon electorate will forget who they continuously vote for, for no other reason than custom and habit. This will result in voters having to use websites like ‘Political Compass’ to guide them on who they should vote for. The outcome would be real change and real progress because the political parties and politicians elected would actually have a vision for a better Croydon, instead of business as usual.
By chance the following week my wife was sent a link to Vote for Policies via Facebook. A small number of web sites are offering what can loosely be described as tests to aid individuals on which party to vote for. Vote for Policies seems to be leading the way. Thankfully she didn't end up with UKIP.

I checked out the Vote for Policies web site today. Prominent Greens have been tweeting about the fact that 25 per cent of those completing the survey are advised they really support the Green Party. An additional feature gives you the results based on constituency. Naturally, I entered Croydon North:


From the Vote for Polices web site 

If selected for Croydon North, you can be sure I will be letting people know of this result wherever and whenever I can. Meanwhile, I am searching online pharmacies.
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FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR