Sunday, November 22, 2015

7 months later I get the legal costs bill.

I sent a press release out from the STOP THE INCINERATOR campaign on Friday 20th. It has already been published in the Adder and Inside Croydon. On a personal note, I am now anxious about what happens next. There is an argument that I don't pay the bill and risk a CCJ in an attempt to get a judge to rule that the £5400 shouldn't be paid because of that has gone on. As I type these words I just think it may be best to move on with regards the judicial review.  Yes, there are questions that need answering about corruption etc. but these two issues shouldn't be conflated.  More to the point, I haven;t got £5400 readily available. 

The Press release starts here: 




Solicitors acting on behalf of Sutton Council have contacted Richard Buxton solicitors demanding that Shasha Khan pay costs of £5000 plus £400 in accrued interest within 14 days.
Sutton Council spent tens of thousands of pounds defending their decision to grant planning permission for the South London incinerator in the High Court. Normally the defendant can recover their costs if the judge rules in their favour. However, the member states of the EU have signed up to the Aarhus Convention which ensures all citizens are able to obtain access to justice on environmental issues. Under this convention, when the claimant, in this case Shasha Khan, is an individual, the recoverable costs if the High Court challenge is unsuccessful are capped at £5000.

The South London Legal Partnership sent an email with a copy of the court order to Richard Buxton on 16th November 2015.

Reacting to the demand, Shasha Khan said, “I am a bit stunned by the demand. I don’t have £5400 readily available. “

“As soon as Justice Sales refused permission for an Appeal back in late April I spoke to my (now former) solicitor about the £5000 capped costs that I was liable for. I was advised that there was a potential that the defendant wouldn’t come after the £5000. So we decided to wait.
“Seven months have elapsed and suddenly Sutton has decided to come after £5k, with interest! I am wondering if they’ve done this deliberately to accrue as much additional cash as possible – far better than putting the £5k in the bank. It’s like rubbing salt in the wound. I have continued to fight the granting of planning permission despite losing the judicial review. Since the decision in April, a whole series of damning corruption, intimidation and transgression revelations (1) have come to light about what went on behind the scenes, and we haven’t given up forcing Sutton and the South London Waste Partnership to come clean on their dodgy behaviour. Maybe this is their way of saying, ‘don’t question us peasant!’

“I have contacted the South London Legal Partnership but the ‘team leader’ is on annual leave and no one else can help me. This leaves me just 10 days to raise all the money.”


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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pact with Labour

Labour selecting Jeremy Corbyn as leader has quietly excited many Greens. However, there are problem areas between JC and our party including: Trade Unions opposition to cancelling Trident, support for the coal industry and economic growth in a finite world.

Caroline Lucas has talked of a pact with Labour. Her open letter in the Independent had to be clarified a day later.

I haven't really thought about the idea of a pact with Labour. There are too many variables to consider including, Labour's Blairite wing (eg. Croydon North's Steve Reed MP).

However, I think Caroline's suggestion of Greens standing down to aid Labour in exchange for electoral reform doesn't go far enough. At the very least Labour should stand down in say five constituencies, including Bristol West in 2020. In return, Greens could, off the top of my head, stand down in say twenty constituencies -  a ratio of 1:5, to ensure 20 Labour gains. It is entirely possible that Croydon Central would be a seat that Labour would want Greens to stand down in.

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

How to start an incinerator

I've recently been editing the Stop The Incinerator web site. I've posted about the South London incinerator on dozens of occasions on this site. We are now getting a real idea of how & why the incinerator was pushed through. See here:
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

I would make Croydon better by...

Introducing a Croydon Citizenship Test to all new residents to our borough. The purpose of the test would be to highlight all that is culturally stimulating and great in the borough, from Coombe Wood to Croydon Tech City, and from The Alchemist to The Oval Tavern, and everything in between. Questions on elected officials would also be included, including details of the last set of election results. Estate Agents will be obliged to hand the test to all those moving to our borough and anyone that scores below a low pass mark will forfeit their chance of living here.

Shasha Khan only wants the enlightened.
The Croydon Citizen has a page in its paper which asks how you would make Croydon better.
When I submitted my sugesstion the Senior Section Editor replied:
It's a lighter kind of 'Better By' entry which actually makes a serious point - that a lot of people who complain about Croydon actually have very limited knowledge of life here despite living here, and might genuinely feel happier and more positive if they looked around and engaged.  And of course for everyone to follow and participate in local politics (look at voting percentages!) would transform outcomes: once again people complain, yet contribute to the situation by their own inaction.
Local Tech City guy, and influential figure, said on twitter

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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Whipped into submission - my 800th post on this blog

From Croydon Advertiser

Looking at the statistics on this blog, this apparently is my 800th post! Wooohoooo!! My timing is superb because it coincides with two other landmarks being celebrated today: The queen becoming the longest reigning monarch   and Wayne Rooney scoring a historic 50th goal to become England's all-time record goal scorer.

Responding to the article which appeared in the Croydon Advertiser in late July, I sent in a letter which appears below.

From Croydon Advertiser

However, the Croydon Advertiser cut out the names from the letter, as well as a couple of sentences. The full version of the letter is below.

Through my discussions with activists, councillors and the local media in Croydon and Sutton, I have been made aware, from those in the know, whom exactly the beatmasters are we all dance to.

Dear Editor,

The reaction from the Liberal Democrats in Sutton to one of its own, Councillor Nick Mattey, for daring to speak up vociferously against the South London incinerator is a reminder that the role of the councillor, far too often, is to rubber stamp the established view. Councils are set up like tightly run local oligarchies which in turn wield their power using party whips and old fashioned collective responsibility.  In Sutton, it is understood the oligarchs are John Drage, Chair of Sutton Liberal Democrats, his wife Elaine Drage, Tom Brake MP and Niall Bolger – the CEO of Sutton Council. In Croydon, there is a widely held view that the leader of the council, currently Tony Newman, CEO Nathan Elvery and council solicitor Julie Belvir run the show.
Equally, one will also find councillors tend to keep their head down, go along with party view to move up the power ladder thus avoiding being deselected.  Some are dependent on the additional income that comes via allowances.
That is why it is all too rare in Sutton and Croydon to see councillors oppose the party line when voting takes place in the chamber.  Councillors are not allowed to be free thinking advocates for the people they represent. Thankfully, the Green Party and UKIP do not operate a whip system. It does mean that sometimes councils occasionally appear to be disjointed, as was the case in Brighton, where Greens opposed Greens during a bin strike, but I’d rather this than a council chamber full of sycophants.

Shasha Khan
Co-coordinator Croydon Green Party

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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

David Petro

I first met David Petro on Saturday 18th October 2008. I know the precise occasion because I have gone through my emails to recall the date. New to the party, he came to a Sutton and Croydon Green Party strategy meeting in Wallington organised by George Dow ( 2010 General Election candidate for Carshalton and Wallington). David came across as a shy man bursting to make constructive contributions on all the topics on the agenda.

For the next few weeks and months David became increasingly active in our local party and quickly became a part of the inner circle, for want of a better term. Within a short time he displayed a natural gift for politics and tremendous intellectual prowess, alongside a mastery of the English language. Arguably, he had the educational background that one traditionally associates with such attributes: Trinity School followed by Cambridge University.

I remember him describing politics as "dark arts," and he certainly had the strategic mind to navigate through our occasionally murky world. He was particularly good with regard to copy and text for communications. It was around this time he went for Green Party National Press Officer role, but sadly he didn't get an interview.

As is common, activists spend a lot of time with each other and this leads to friendships. Around the early party of 2009, I got to know David a bit more socially. He came around for dinner a couple of times and we watched DVDs that he recommended. One film that had passed me by, which we watched together, was Idiocricy. It is a cult classic that is a scarily accurate portrayal of the kind of world future generations will live in.

At the time Croydon Green Party didn't have a website, just this blog. David got to work on a professional website and looked after the design of our communications. He designed from scratch the first Croydon Green Party website. Below is a jpeg of the draft design for the homepage:

In February 2009, there was a by election in Waddon. David put together the design and much of the content for the leaflet below.

We soon got to realise that David was a fairly nocturnal operator. He slept most of the day and was up most of the night. This is symptomatic of those suffering from depression, and through 2009 he was less able to function as he would like to have done - due to this illness. That said, he still continued to help design leaflets, but he was less able to be otherwise involved in the local party. When asked to do design work for the party he would put 100 per cent time and effort into the job to ensure the best results. I once bumped into his dad in East Croydon and we chatted about David briefly and he described his son as a 'perfectionist'. David used to explain in his emails that he was only operating at 40 per cent due to his illness, but in actual fact his 40 per cent was perfectly fine.

The above Waddon leaflet was the very first time the word incinerator was mentioned in any communication by anyone. David got to grips with the whole issue and was integral in Sutton and Croydon Green Party submitting a 5000 word document to the very first consultation. He carefully selected, registered and purchased the domain: - something which has helped boost the number of hits our campaign website has received. Incredibly, given the the dozens of campaigns in the UK, if one googles incinerator, the fourth listing that appears on the page is Stop The Incinerator. This is an example of his clever judgement. He designed and built the first Stop the Incinerator website which was still being used in 2013.

In the 2010 local elections in Croydon he stood in his home ward of Addiscombe and his brother stood in neighbouring Ashburton. He was very much involved in the design and content of all of the leaflets our party produced in 2009 and 2010 when we targeted Bensham Manor ward. It was with his help I nearly polled 1200 votes.

Bensham Manor ward, 2010 election result

Donna Gray (Lab)              3872
Alison Butler (Lab)           3781
Raj Rajendran (Lab)           3480
Greta Sohoye (Con)            1314
Shasha Khan (Grn)             1194
Emerson Roberts (LD)          1142
Abdul Talukdar (Con)           982
Kazim Walji (Con)              950
Jade Small (Grn)               791
Christopher Sciberras (Grn)    603


The last time I spoke to David was probably last summer, when he had thoughtfully nominated me for the Croydon Guardian Community Champion. The first I knew about it was when I got a phone call from the Croydon Guardian. I rang David to thank him. He figured the publicity would help the incinerator campaign. He also explained he had become a trustee of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation and was doing some work for them, including their website.We talked about meeting up sometime soon even though he indicated he was going through a difficult period.

A couple of weeks ago the Stop the Incinerator website went down. The site had disappeared and had been replaced with a message saying "account suspended".

Chair of the campaign, Paul Pickering, contacted me to say that he had sent an email to David because it appeared the domain needed renewing but he hadn't received a reply. I rang David's house and spoke to his brother, Sergio. He gave me the sad news that earlier this year his brother had taken his own life. Sergio explained that David had been struggling with his mental health from around the start of the year, but it was the Body Dysmorphic Disorder that had really got a hold on him. We talked about David, and Sergio pointed out that his brother was passionately committed to raising awareness about the little-known disorder and to helping sufferers.   

It is tough for all of us in our local party who knew him to think that we will never see David again. He was a kind, generous and talented person who sadly suffered from a combination of mental health issues.

He enjoyed being involved in the party because, as he explained, he was with a group of people with whom he shared the same values.

Our thoughts are with his family.

David above - at the Save Our Schools demo outside Croydon Town Hall

*If you would like to know more about BDD please visit their web site*


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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Public Question - Council 20 July - Clean up for bill posting‏

From Mr Shasha Khan   
Councillor  Mark Watson  
Question No.   
Given the levels of fly posting by the SayNo20mph campaign and the clear links between their web site and the UKIP Croydon North web site (the 20mph pages are identical), will this council bill UKIP for the clean-up operation or even seek a prosecution?  
Officers have made enquiries regarding the flyposting of SayNo20mph materials. The identity of the person or organisation responsible for the flyposting is not clear and there has been no admission of guilt by any one person. As the Council is unable to prove who actually put them up, the evidential basis for enforcement action, including prosecution or seeking the costs of removal, is not straightforward. The Council is unable to enforce purely based on links and assumptions.   
A warning regarding flyposting has nevertheless been sent to the contact address listed on the SayNo20mph materials as being involved and the materials were removed. No further materials were put up after that point to our knowledge. No reply was forthcoming from the contact address.  
The Council is unable at this point in time to take any more action. Our response has been measured and, insofar as the flyposting appears to have occurred only on those lamp columns where the Council’s own scheme notices were displayed, is considered proportionate.  

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Saturday, July 04, 2015

Tom Voute

One can gauge how active or flourishing a local party is by the number of people who leaflet homes regularly, volunteer for officer roles, write letters to the paper, help run stalls, attend and contribute at business meetings, support fundraisers, attend socials, donate to the local party and stand for elections.

Tom Voute did all of the above.

Moreover, as other active Greens know, the more active you become, your colleagues in the local party become your friends.

That it why we were all sad to hear the news that, after a short illness, Tom had passed away on 19th June 2015.

I first met Tom at a local party meeting in Carshalton. Back in 2003, our local party meetings were in Sutton. Croydon had conjoined with Sutton when activity in Croydon had all but ceased at the back end of the last century. It was about the same time that Tom, Bernice Golberg and I started attending meetings in Sutton, as Croydon members.

Tom always made himself available to stand as candidate in his home ward of Kenley. It's a shame we never targeted Kenley because the headline of our pre-election leaflet would obviously be:


Until very recently he was our local party treasurer and London Federation of Green Parties representative. Despite his illness he was active as ever this year.

He was wise man with a great Dutch accent and an infectious laugh. We will miss him.

A good number of our local party attended his funeral, His son, James, made a moving tribute to his father, detailing all the things his father had taught him. He, his brother Nick, and their mother Beth are in our thoughts.

I've searched my PC, laptop and phone and found some photos of Tom over the years. I've put them together in a vid.

Tributes to Tom have been circulating on social media and emails. Here a couple from Tracey Hague and Martyn Post.

"He was a great man, full of experience, enthusiasm and humour but also a great lover of life (who can forget his Argentinian tango at our eco-disco?). Everyone has fond memories of him; he will be sorely missed both locally and at London Federation meetings. In the meantime he would probably want us all to get on with Green Party work in making this world a better place to live for everyone. RIP Tom - I hope I can emulate a fraction of what you embodied so wonderfully." 

"This is such terrible news.  Tom was such a lovely person.  He was always happy to talk about any subject, he was wise, friendly and will be such a loss to the whole local party.
I will always remember meeting up with him and Gordon on pretty much a daily basis last year delivering leaflets across Croham and going for coffee afterwards.  Tom and Gordon would discuss buildings and art, while I sat there listening, unable to add anything to the conversation.
I first met Tom in 2007, a year or so after I joined the party and straight away I liked him. He was very welcoming and so inteligent.
My heart goes out to his family.  I hope we can get a fitting tribute for him."
Tom's occupation was local authority waste management. Last year he wrote a piece on flytipping for Inside Croydon. 

There's a lovely picture of him on the Croydon Green Party Facebook page here and one of his letters to the local paper can be found here.

RIP Tom.
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