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

--------------------------------------------------
Tags ,

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)



--------------------------------------------------
Tags ,

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.


 --------------------------------------------------
Tags ,

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.
--------------------------------------------------
Tags ,

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Rainy Bank Holiday Mondays



Monday 25th August was a washout but the hardy Greens involved in the stall at the Environmental Fair soldiered on in the rain, and actually raised quite a healthy sum of money for the cause. Tea/coffee and cake whatever the weather!

There were two stalls beside us that gave up halfway through the day: Labour Party and Socialist Party!

Memories from yesteryear of our stall can be found here.

Tags ,

Monday, August 18, 2014

Messing in Croydon

On 1st August, a steaming hot day during the heatwave, I received a knock on the front door. It was my neighbour.

"You're in the Green Party aren't you?"

After confirming my political colour of choice, she continued, "There's people dumping rubbish in the park."

I quickly didn't change into my Green Knight outfit and investigated.

I took a photo of the offending items in the park. I had a view to use the My Croydon smartphone App to report it.


I then walked up to a house which was seemingly emptying the contents of a garden into the park. The group of people before me consisted of:

Three men who were doing all the labouring.
At least two children between 8-10 years old.
A mother with a baby.

The three men looked like they were suffering from the hot conditions. They were using a hacksaw to cut branches into carryable pieces.

I explained to the group that they could contact the council to take this stuff. The main labourer asserted that the council had advised them to leave the vegetation and additional rubbish in the park, just by the entrance. I responded politely by questioning whether the council would do such a thing. I then offered to contact the council to collect it from outside the house and proceeded to look for the phone number on my smartphone. The main labourer responded by stating that I had made the children feel uncomfortable. A few poor excuses were being offered in my direction, and then one of the children started saying, "If I don't like someone I am going to say Boo!" She then repeatedly said Boo! The main labourer asked on more than one occasion if I was the owner of the park. Soon after the poor excuses turned into unpleasantries being fired in my direction.

Then in flash the mood completely turned when the main labourer threatened to cut me with his hacksaw if I didn't go away. Number 2 labourer chimed in with a volley of expletives. Number 3 labourer decided to play peacemaker and told me to walk away. Stunned by the mood change and unsure how to react, I pointed out that we all owned the park. 

Next, the main labourer rushed over to me with hacksaw in hand, which he was occasionally using even during our exchange, and grabbed my arm tightly and demanded to know where I lived.

"Show me which house is yours?" He prompted his question by waving the hacksaw in full view of my eyeballs.

His calculations proved correct because I was not in the mood to share my address with him, retreating was clearly now the sensible course of action. My heart was racing I was really unsure how this powderkeg of a man was going to turn next. His eyes were full of anger. 

He let go of my arm at which point number 3 labourer pulled me away. Before I turned around to walk home I shouted out, "You make me want to move away from this area." Main labourer responded in his broken accent in an unexpected way, "You should move to heaven" and pointed and looked up at the sky knowing my eyes were only fixed on him as he returned to using the hacksaw for its actual purpose.

Number 2 labourer then said in reference to me, "He's not even white."

When I arrived home, I was shaking, partly with anger and partly with fear. I felt that if the main labourer would behave in such an agressive manner then he must perceive to have very little at stake in society. 

I definitely was not going to call the police. Instead I decided to call Croydon North MP, Steve Reed's constituency office. I explained to Louise his assistant what had just happened. She sounded shocked and genuinely sympathetic. I asked her what I should do next. She understood that I didn't want to call the police. She then suggested I speak to Cllr Stuart Collins, Mr Clean Green cabinet member - the champion of the new council slogan against flytippers, 'Don't Mess With Croydon'. She said she was going to send him an email immediately. I had his number so I called him after putting the phone down. I got through to his voicemail. He called back straight away. Cllr Collins said that he wanted to call one of his enforcement officers. I emphatically replied, no. I did not want to risk continued intimidation.

The conversation concluded with the only thing left possible which was to get the offending vegetation and ancillaries to be collected on the morning of the next working day. Cllr Collins said he would see to it.

Yesterday (17th August). I took a photo of the flytipped vegetation. Some people who are not 'taking pride' are now dumping stuff on to it because it now looks like dumping point. 







Evidently, it is possible to mess with Croydon if you think you don't have anything to be proud about. 

--------------------------------------------------
Tags ,

Friday, August 01, 2014

Letter on Emily Benn


From Croydon Guardian 30th July


Dear Editor,

A friend of mine who lives in East London has just text me, “24? What does a 24 year old know about anything?” He is referring to Emily Benn, granddaughter, to the late great Tony Benn. Ms Benn, aged 24, is to stand as Labour candidate in Croydon South at the May 2015 General Election. Tactically, it is good for Croydon Labour that she is standing because, on the surface, voters will assume her position on the political compass is similar to her grandfather. Scratch the surface and voters will find that she is a neoliberal investment banker, belonging to the fraternity that has caused this age of austerity.

However, Labour does need to somehow portray a progressive sheen to their persona because those who believe in social justice are deserting Labour and finding solace in the Greens. Croydon Labour from the outset has maintained it will continue the cuts programme started by the previous administration.

Labour in Croydon is now associated with a name that traditional Labour voters will warm to. This undoubtedly will help manage the obvious disappointment when the cuts programme takes effect.

Incidentally, I replied to my friend’s text with, “A 24yr old will be in tune with issues facing young people today, but having read her biog (grammar school followed by Oxford Uni & now graduate trainee at UBS) I could be wrong!”

Yours sincerely
Shasha Khan
Croydon Green Party



Tags ,

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

2014 election results: Time for naval gazing


                                      2004               2014
Barking and Dagenham 4.6 1.4
Barnet 7.4 8.3
Bexley 4.5 1.3
Brent 7.4 4.5
Bromley 5.9 5.3
Camden 14.8 15.7
Croydon 6.3 8.9
Ealing 8.6 3.8
Enfield 6.5 6.1
Greenwich 8.9 6.9
Hackney 16.7 20.5
Hammersmith and Fulham 10.3 2.5
Haringey 13.5 15.4
Harrow 5.8 1.2
Havering 4.8 1.7
Hillingdon 5.6 3.7
Hounslow 7.4 4.4
Islington 17.1 19.2
Kensington and Chelsea 8.8 1.4
Kingston upon Thames 7.5 6.9
Lambeth 13.9 15.5
Lewisham 12.8 16.3
Merton 8.7 1.8
Newham 5.8 0.6
Redbridge 6.0 2.0
Richmond upon Thames 10.2 6.0
Southwark 10.7 11.9
Sutton 5.2 3.0
Tower Hamlets 8.8 6.5
Waltham Forest 9.3 5.6
Wandsworth 10.7 6.1
Westminster 9.1 5.6

Table shows percentage vote share comparison

In 2004 I fought my first ever elections. I say elections because on the same day of the Mayor and London Assembly elections there was also a by-election in Bensham Manor ward. As constituency candidate for Croydon & Sutton, I polled just under 5 per cent.* It meant the deposit was not saved. I remember at the time my fellow candidate for Havering and Redbridge, Ashley Gunstock, who was later to run for leader, and I were the only candidates in London to lose our deposits. It was a big blow. Nothing can prepare for that feeling.

Fast forward to 2014, ten years later, take out the Green boroughs with a natural green demographic that have elected Green party councillors in the past and present: Lewisham, Hackney, Camden, Southwark and Lambeth and Islington; add in Haringey (which always comes close due to its demographic), and you are left with 24 boroughs. Incredibly, from languishing at the foot of the 'other boroughs', our percentage according to calculations on the London Green Party web site, puts us at the top of the remaining 24 boroughs. WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT!! In fact, under pure PR, the London Green Party article calculates we would have returned 6 councillors.

Picture taken during the 2004 GLA campaign
This change hasn't just happened organically. Croydon's overall demographic hasn't suddenly altered favourably. This has happened through hard work, and those of us that have put in the countless hours, should feel very proud. I am sure this direction of travelhas not gone unnoticed by Croydon Labour:

Exhibit One: Creating a new cabinet post called CLEAN GREEN Croydon!

*For convenience, the percentages are easier to copy and paste, I have taken the ASSEMBLY LIST results from 2004 instead of the constituency results when creating the table.

--------------------------------------------------
Tags ,

FAIR IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR