Stand Up to Lambeth protest and vigil
Lambeth Town Hall, London. Sat 9 Dec 2017
Class War's banners point out that Labour councils
are the biggest social cleansers in London
People protest at Lambeth Town Hall in honour of all those affected
by Lambeth Council's heartless policies.
The vigil also included a tribute to Cressingham Gardens resident and leading
campaigner Ann Plant who died of cancer in December 2016, spending her final
months still fighting to prevent the demolition of her home and her community
by the council, one of a series of council estate demolitions Lambeth plan
in a ruthless programme of realising the asset value of their estates despite
it resulting in many local residents being forced out of the area.
As well as implementing this programme of social cleansing, the Labour
council dominated by supporters of the right-wing New Labour Progress organisation
has also shut down community centres, betrayed local businesses, drastically
cut services for the disabled, those with mental health problems, young
people and social services generally.
The council claim that they have been forced into cuts by Tory national
government policies, but Councillors' expenses and allowances keeps on growing
and they have spent over £150m on a new Town Hall project, already
several times over the original budget and still growing in cost.
National Anti-Slavery March
Belgrave Square to Libyan Embassy, London, UK
A Black Muslim stands in front of the African Lives
Matter banner outside the Libyan embassy
Thousands marched from Belgrave Square to a protest in front of the
Libyan Embassy against the selling of Black Africans by Arab slave traders
The march hosted by African Lives Matter demanded closure of the Libyan
detention centres, action by African governments to rescue people detained
in the camps and condemnation of the slave trade and murders of migrants
by all African leaders and the UN, calling on Libya to make and enforce
laws that prevent these crimes against humanity.
Many also demanded reparations for the historic slave trade and the continuing
despoliation of African resources by imperialist nations including the UK.
The rally outside the embassy began with an African ceremony of libation,
with water being poured in memory of many who have taken part in the struggle
for freedom and human rights for Africans over the years.
ICAN Nobel Peace Prize Die-In
Ministry of Defence, London. Sat 9 Dec 2017
People lie down on the steps of the Ministry of Defence
for a die-in
Peace campaigners celebrate the award of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize
to ICAN, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, for its
role in pushing for a United Nations global nuclear ban treaty which has
been supported by 122 countries with an awards ceremony and die-in outside
the Ministry of Defence.
The prize is to be presented in Oslo tomorrow. The UK refused to take part
in the treaty negotiations and is refusing to sign the treaty, but the protesters
urged it so sign up and to scrap Trident replacement. The event was organised
by ICAN UK and two of ICAN's partner organisations in the UK, CND and Medact,
and included speakers from these and another ICAN partner, WILPF, the Women's
International League for Peace and Freedom, and a mock Nobel Prize was handed
over by to ICAN UK by Bruce Kent, who also presented many small chocolate
'Nobels' to those at the event.
Israeli 'blood diamond' Australia protest
Australia House, London. Fri 8 Dec 2017
Campaigners next to a banner outside Australia House
Inminds human rights group protest outside the Australian High Commission
on the eve of the Kimberley Process Plenary Meeting in Brisbane, Australia,
chaired by Australia.
The vigil was to highlight the failure of the Kimberley Process in preventing
the trade in blood diamonds that fund human rights violations around the
world, in particular those by Israel in Palestine. Inminds say that the
definition of blood diamonds should be widened to include cut and polished
diamonds that are funding human rights violations around the world, in line
with a 2015 draft proposal at the World Diamond Council which was only blocked
by a last-minute intervention by the President of the Israeli Diamond Exchange,
who stated "it could be disastrous for Israel".
The Israeli diamond industry contributes about $1 billion annually to the
Israeli military and security industries, funding activities such as that
of the Givati Brigade, responsible during the 2009 attack on Gaza for the
massacre of 29 members of the Samouni family. The UN Human Rights Council
have found Israel guilty of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity
and Inminds say their diamond trade is a trade in blood diamonds.
City of London. Thu 7 Dec 2017
London's rubbish is taken on board just above Cannon
Five of us old friends got together for a pre-Christmas walk, more
a social occasion than one to take photographs, meeting up at St Paul's
station. We had planned to go on a longer walk elsewhere, but several people
were unable to come and we decided to do that some time after Christmas.
This walk was unusual in that we only went into two pubs, one for a quick
drink and the second when those of us who completed the walk (we were down
to three by then) had a meal together. We started in the Guildhall Art Gallery,
going down into its depths where a few years ago the remains of the Roman
Coliseum were discovered and are now rather well displayed, before looking
at the City of London's art collection on display. It's a rather mixed bunch
with some fine works ancient and modern along with some rather tedious municipal
records of great occasions that would have looked fine in the Illustrated
London News but don't really cut it as vast canvasses on the gallery wall.
Walking on past the Bank of England we walked into Adams Court and walked
around in a circle before driven by thirst to the Crosse Keys, where I failed
to resist the temptation of a pint of Smokestack Lightnin', a beer from
the Dorking Brewery, named after my favourite Howling Wolf track - I still
somewhere have the 45rpm record. It was the first time I've come across
the idea of a 'smoked' beer, and while interesting I think it would be best
drunk around a bonfire.
The first of our crew defected as we went into the pub, not to be seen
again, and we said goodbye to the second as we left, with me boldly leading
the way down to the river, where we turned upstream along the Thames path.
The light was fading a little, but perhaps becoming more interesting, but
when we left the river at Queenhithe it was time to make our way back to
St Paul's to catch a bus and get a table for our meal together before the
city workers crowded in.
All pictures taken with a Fuji X-E1 and 18mm Fuji lens.
Grenfell protests outside council meeting
Kensington Town Hall, London. Wed 6 Dec 2017
A woman in the crowd listens to speeches at the
Protesters outside the Kensington & Chelsea council meeting at
Kensington Town Hall demand answers and action from the council, almost
six months after the disastrous fire at Grenfell Tower.
The protest had been approved at a public meeting at the Maxilla Centre
and was publicised and supported by the Justice4Grenfell campaign and the
RCG who both came with PA systems. Justice 4 Grenfell tried to persuade
the RCG to move away, but they refused, though they did turn off their sound
system for the J4G main speeches, including those by MPs Kate Osamor and
Emma Dent Coad, but restarted when these appeared to have finished. But
the J4G rally resumed after a short pause and for a short time both sound
systems were in use. A small group supporting the Justice4Grenfell campaign
then came to shout at and threaten the RCG and one had to be held back by
friends and onlookers after trying to start a fist fight.
Also protesting were Class War, who had brought a number of posters with
the picture of the disgraced Councillor Rock Feilding-Mellen, who as deputy
council leader and cabinet member responsible for housing had apparently
pressed the TMO for the cost reductions which resulted in the use of flammable
cladding and other modifications that made Grenfell a huge fire risk, and
allegedly instituted a shoddy and ineffectual sytem of fire inspections
to reduce the costs of maintenance throughout the properties. Although still
a local councillor, Feilding-Mellen fled the area shortly after the Grenfell
fire and is said to have made only occasional fleeting appearances since,
and Class War's posters showed his face with the single word 'Where?'.
The protest condemned the failure of the council to properly respond to
the needs of the those affected by the fire, and in particular that so few
have been rehoused, with some whole families still in a small hotel room.
They demand that all survivors and those who had to move out because of
the fire are rehoused in appropriate housing in the area and that those
responsible in Kensington and Chelsea council, the TMO and the cladding
company face criminal charges. They also want a real role for the local
community in the official inquiry into the fire which they feel has already
disrespected local residents and fear will be a cover up.
Cressingham Gardens residents say Ballot Us!
Brixton, London. Sat 2 Dec 2017
People listen to speeches outside Lambeth Town Hall
after the march from Cressingham Gardens
Residents from Cressingham Gardens in Tulse Hill marched with supporters
to a rally at Lambeth Town Hall taking petition calling on Lambeth Council
to hold a ballot of residents over their plans to demolish the estate.
Since Labour's last conference, party policy is that no demolition of council
estates should take place without consent, but Lambeth Council seem determined
to ignore this and go ahead with their plans for a so-called 'regeneration'
which would see all 300 homes demolished, without any plans to provide immediate
council housing for the roughly 1000 residents who would be made homeless.
Residents in this and other estates across London and elsewhere want councils,
particularly Labour councils, to act on behalf of their residents rather
than making deals with property developers which largely serve the interests
of shareholders and international investors, many of whom are laundering
the proceeds of crimes. Around a hundred people marched from the estate
to meet others for a rally outside the old Lambeth Town Hall in the centre
Brixton, London. Sat 2 Dec 2017
Cars only come to the edge of the estate which has
large safe pedestrian areas
Before the protest by residents against the demolition of their estate
I deliberately arrived early so I could walk around the estate and take
The estate is described as a council garden estate and was designed by
Edward Hollamby, the chief architect for Lambeth Council at a time when
councils such as this had a mission to provide quality housing for working
class Lambeth residents. Its 306 dwellings, a mixture of four, three and
two-bedroom houses, and one-bedroom apartments acheive a feeling of spaciousness
but have a high residential density of over 250 persons/hectare, and the
estate had a number of innovative features. The development was praised
by the council, then Conservative, with John Major (later Sir John and Prime
Minister) as deputy chair of the Housing Committee as a 'bold and imaginative
scheme' and was acheived at a relatively low cost per dwelling - adjusted
for inflation to current prices of around £85,000.
It has remained a popular and well ordered estate to the current day, the
design encouraging a strong feeling of community and a low crime rate, although
as with many buildings of the era it has been poorly maintained and is in
need of some remedial work. Bringing it up to contemporary standards and
fixing the problems with guttering and drainage would be a relatively cheap
operation at around £9.4 million for the whole site - though Lambeth
council says this is unaffordable.
But this estate is in a good location on a prime site overlooking Brockwell
Park, and a private development here could provide sales of around £400
million at current market prices for the area. Of course the private developer
is obliged to promise some affordable or social housing, but most employ
accountancy firms after the work has started to reduce that down to negligible
levels - at the Heygate estate iun neighbouring Southwark over a thousand
council properties were replaced by around 80. And even affordable housing
- at up to 80% of market rent - is way out of reach for most current council
If redevelopment (misleadingly called regeneration) goes ahead, the current
residents will lose out considerably. Those who have exercised the right
to buy will get compensation that will not enable them to buy any comparable
property in the area and probably be forced to move to the outer fringes
of London or even further afield, away from their current jobs, schools
etc. Council tenants may qualify for re-housing, but many will be have to
move to insecure private tenancies and those rehoused by the council will
be offered properties far inferior to those they currently live in. The
only other estates built to similar standards as Cressingham are also being
listed for demolition.
The estate was put forward for listing in 2013, but despite Historic England
praising the way the design responds to its setting, with skill and sensitivity,
“both in the scale and massing of the built elements, as well
as through the integration of these elements with informal open spaces which
bring a park-like character into the estate” it was surprisingly
turned down. It is one of a number of decisions which clearly reflect the
current political nature of the listing process.
King's College employ your cleaners
King's College, London. Fri 1 Dec 2017
The pavement outside the college was filled with protesters
and they mad a lot of noise
Students and cleaners protest outside King's College after the college
and Servest who employ the cleaners failed to make the formal offer they
had promised by November 30th on the demand that the cleaners be directly
employed by the college with parity of terms and conditions with other King's
Cleaners who are members of Unison have been promised that they will get
the new London Living Wage set in November, but complain that promises on
workloads and providing proper equipment made after earlier strikes have
not been kept. Students and trade unionists from some other London colleges
came to show solidarity.
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