Robin Hood Gardens
Poplar, London. Tue 30 Jun 2015
The end of the street in the sky - and it looks like
the end for Robin Hood Gardens
Robin Hood Gardens is doomed. Although 80% of residents voted in
a 2009 survey for its refurbishment, the council and others have widely stated
that it was unpopular, with 75% of those living there supporting its demolition,
according to a council consultation the previous year. When I visited it in
2009, on a tour ked by Bridget Cherry, there certainly seemed some evidence
of people living there and making the place their own, planting gardens and
more. It was neat, clean and tidy and didn't have the look or feel of an unpopular
place to live. A brief visit at a later date and talking with a few residents
confirmed my impressions
It's clearly also a building that deserves listing, for both the quality
of the scheme and also as one of very few outstanding buildings of the era.
After my last visit I wrote that it was:
in many respects a fine solution to a difficult site with some superb
landscaping in the large interior space. Deliberately encouraged to ruin
by overcrowding and use as a sink estate by Tower Hamlets, it is now in
a sorry state, but the decision not to list it is unfathomable (or perhaps
simply political.) I hope the campaign to save it from demolition succeeds.
Like the now demolished Heygate
Estate, Robin Hood Gardens was the subject of a well funded campaign of
vilification by the local authority, who saw it only as a large area with
potential for redevelopment at a higher density, and developers who see any
area of social housing in London as rich pickings for redevelopment and sale
to the rich.
Robin Hood Gardens was a difficult site, alongside the busy Blackwall Tunnel
approach, and although Alison and Peter Smithson had to make compromises,
it remains impressive. The advisory committee of English Heritage thought
it should be listed, but were overruled, and the then Minister of Culture
Andy Burnham issued a certificate of immunity against listing in 2009. This
expired in 2014 and a further attempt, backed by almost every well-known British
architect, was made to get it listed, but has been rejected by Historic England
the body that now control listings.
An open letter signed by Richard Rogers and others stated:
"The buildings, which offer generously sized flats that could
be refurbished, are of outstanding architectural quality and significant
historic interest, and public appreciation and understanding of the value
of Modernist architecture has grown over the past five years, making the
case for listing stronger than ever."
The decision to refuse listing - both in 2009 and now - is clearly a political
one and appears to be based on the conclusion that the estate "fails
as a place for human beings to live" which is unsupportable and
sets aside its architectural merit. Work is expected to begin soon to demolish
the estate and replace it with bland and generic developers buildings which
maximise the profit from the area without any real regard or feeling for the
site by property developer Swan with the backing of Tower Hamlets Council
in a scheme that also includes land between the estate and the Docklands Light
Railway. It includes several very tall towers, the tallest 42 storeys and
the whole area - roughly twice that of the current estate will include 1,621
dwellings, over 7 times the 213 flats in Robin Hood Gardens.
Even though it has been left to decay and the large enclosed garden area
let go wild, the estate remains impressive, more so than other listed buildings
of the era. Many of the tenants have now been removed, and most or all of
the western block seemed empty, and I was unable to get inside. I didn't try
too hard as the strong sun would have made panoramas from its upper deck difficult.
After walking around the exterior of the estate, I went inside the still
occupied long east block and made my way to the highest public level, a 'street
in the sky' built rather less wide than the architects had originally intended,
overlooking the Blackwall Tunnel approach.
DPAC's ILF Closing Ceremony
Downing St to Old Palace Yard, London. Tue 30 Jun 2015
John Kelly as Schimmel, the equine star and proud battle horse of the Threepenny
On the day the ILF closes, campaigners for independent living for disabled
people presented petitions to the Prime Minister before marching behind the
Threepenny Opera horse to Parliament to continue the fight for dignity and
Protesters gathered outside the gates to Downing St, writing slogans on incontinence
pads which they fear they will be condemned to using as the support they now
can pay for with the ILF disappears. Paula Peters wrote a message for Iain
Duncan Smith: 'I want dignity - I want to be treated as a human - You wear
one of these I. D. S. They are awful'.
DPAC had brought a petition with over 25,000 signatures thanks to the support
of a video by the stars of Coronation Street and the Graeae Theatre Company’s
2014 UK Tour of The Threepenny Opera which was handed in to Downing St.
Led by Schimmel, the equine star and proud battle horse of the Threepenny
Opera they then marched down Whitehall to Parliament Square and Old Palace
yard where they were met by John McDonnell MP, who was one of the speakers
at a brief rally at the end of which a wreath with the message's 'RIP ILF'
Staines, Middx. Sun 28 Jun 2015
The Mayor of Spelthorne puts his weight on the rope
Some years ago a local councillor allegedly made a drunken bet he could get
the name of Staines changed to Staines-upon-Thames. Mainly by running a consultation
on the quiet and ignoring the results he succeeded in getting his way, and
the name was officially changed a few years ago, though I've yet to hear anyone
who actually lives here calling it anything other than plain Staines. Probably
estate agents do, but few of them live in Staines.
It's mildly annoying having to keep correcting it in online forms, but otherwise
it hasn't made much difference. The official day celebrating the change was
slightly amusing, with Ali G - who brought the town some prominence resulting
in a few local politicians with a severe sense of humour deficit wanting the
name change - or at least a fairly convincing look-alike - being forcibly
ejected from the celebrations.
You can read more about this and see the pictures at Council
Attempts To Rename Staines where I quote Ali G's wisdom on the matter:
"Staines is Staines NOT up on Thames. You wanna know 'ow I make
diz town bettah? Iz simple, two words: keep it real! da council Is you on
crack or somethin'?"
This has now become an annual non-event, held on the car park next to the
Sweeps Ditch pumping site (and another larger river) and there was little
to enliven it this year. I only went because I had been asked to take photographs
of their stall for a local charity which my wife is involved in.
Staines lost out in 1965 when Conservatives in the leafier parts of Sunbury
and Shepperton revolted against their inclusion in Greater London, and in
particular the London borough of Hounslow, which they feared might have a
Labour majority. To make a viable local authority they hijacked Staines, Stanwell
and Ashford to form Spelthorne, which despite being on the Middlesex bank
of the river was transferred to Surrey, which frankly didn't want it and certainly
for years tried to ignore much of it. I several times rang up people in County
Hall only to be told that Staines wasn't in Surrey. Staines and Stanwell have
suffered ever since.
Victims & Survivors call for Justice
Downing St, London. Sat 27 Jun 2015
A man in dark glasses holds up a poster 'Bust the
76 Parliamentary Paedos NOW'
An angry rally opposite Downing St called for an end to the covering
up of paedophilia, particularly the 76 allegations against MPs, as well as
others in high positions protected by the establishment whose investigation
has been shelved.
Others at the protest were concerned at some of the activities of the family
courts, held in secret, often taking children away from parents. Gagging orders
in some cases prevent the facts from being known.
It's hard to separate the truth from some of the wider allegations, and even
some of the wildest have some truth behind them. Although secrecy in family
courts may protect the interests of children, it sometimes seems to be used
to cover up injustices, and while there may not be 76 'parliamentary paedos',
there seems no doubt that inquiries have been stopped and documents destroyed
about some very unsavoury incidents. Jimmy Saville was certainly not the only
rotten apple in the basket, and many of the rumours and allegations about
him which were dismissed by the establishment as wild rumours and conspiracy
theories have been found to be truths stranger than fiction.
The protesters called for full and public inquiries into these cases, and
while some things are now being investigated it still isn't clear that these
will ever get to the truth in cases that involve people at the top levels
of the establishment. Probably not.
Class War protest 'corporate pinkwashing'
Piccadilly Circus and Pall Mall, London. Sat 27 Jun 2015
Police tell Class War to leave the front of the Pride
Parade in Pall Mall
Class War protested outside Barclay's Bank at Piccadilly Circus against
corporate sponsorship of Pride in London, briefly closing the branch. They
went on to display their banner a few yards in front of the parade as it neared
The Class War banner had the message 'Poor is the new Queer' and 'F**k the
Pink Pound, F**k Corporate Pinkwashing!' and seven people came to hold it
up in front of Barclay's at Piccadilly Circus (there were a few more around
too). I'd met up with them in front of a pub a short walk away while they
waited for more people to arrive. The traffic and road closures held some
people up, and they failed to get there in time.
The parade had been held up briefly at Oxford Circus by other protesters
against its takeover as a corporate glitter-fest, who had staged a funeral
procession. Around Piccadilly Circus Class War arrived too late to get into
the procession and had to watch the front of it go by over the heads of several
rows of people crowding along the barriers. A group of revellers came up to
them and demanded to take selfies alongside them.
They then went to protest outside the Barclays branch at Piccadilly Circus,
getting out their banner and standing in front of the entrance. The bank quickly
locked its doors. A police officer wandered past but took no interest in what
The protesters decided to rush on and find a part of the route with more
space, and there was a short almost deserted section on the other side of
the route in Pall Mall. They made their way to the official crossing point
at Trafalgar Square and then back to line the barriers.
As the flag bearers at the front of the Parade came into sight, Class War
unhooked one of the barriers and rushed with their banner to lead the procession,
shouting slogans. A smoke flare was thrown onto the road to attract the attention
of the people lining the route. Pride Marshals and police soon came up and
forced them to leave the road, and they were pushed behind the barriers again.
They stood there with the banner for a few minutes, watched by police before
seeing more police arriving and deciding it was time to disappear, running
towards Trafalgar Square. I followed half of them down into the subway where
they lost the police, emerging from one of the other subway entrances. Most
if not all had evaded the police and were meeting up to decide on any further
action, but I'd followed them enough and left.
Baker St, London. Sat 27 Jun 2015
Women from Northern Community Feminism hold a picture
of Margaret Thatcher with the message 'Back to the Future' and call on people
to fight the current government policies.
Pride long since moved from a protest to a parade, but this year on the
30th anniversary of the support it gave to the miners strike, more groups
trade union and other political groups tried to reclaim the march as the radical
festival it once was.
However the protest as a whole was dominated by large commercial groups,
who also provide large amounts of sponsorship to enable the event as a whole
to be dominated by commercial interests. It seems a long way from the event
when I first photographed it in the early 90s when Pride was a protest.
Away from the large corporate groups there was still much to celebrate, as
well as at least some of the old stereotypes and oddities, and I was sorry
to have to rush away before the whole of the parade had left Baker St and
was on its way.
UN Day for Victims of Torture
Trafalgar Square, London. Fri 26 Jun 2015
London Guantánamo Campaign on UN International
Day in Support of Victims of Torture
London Guantánamo Campaign and others stood in Trafalgar Square
in a solidarity vigil in recognition of the suffering and rights of victims
and survivors of torture, calling on those in positions of power able to put
an end to the use of torture.
National Gallery Strike Day 41
National Gallery, London. Fri 26 Jun 2015
Christine, one of the Glasgow Unison Homeless Caseworkers
who has been on strike for 14 weeks
Strikers and supporters held a rally outside the National Gallery on
the 41st day of their strike against privatisation of the gallery to oil companies.
PCS rep Candy Udwin read from the court judgement that herself and
others should keep their jobs. The activities for which she was sacked were
described as normal trade union activities and involved nothing for which
she should have been disciplined.
There was a warm welcome for two Unison member who had travelled down from
Glasgow to give the support of the council caseworkers who have been on strike
there for 14 weeks. Three weeks after this London protest, their strike for
parity with other frontline social services staff came to a successful conclusion
with an offer from the council which met their key demand for re-grading.
Government threaten Mental Health sufferers
Streatham, London. Fri 26 Jun 2015
A woman speaks angrily outside the Streatham Jobcentreplus
Campaigners marched to Streatham Jobcentreplus where a pilot scheme is
being set up for the DWP's plan to use the controversial Cognitive Behavior
Therapy to force people with mental health problems into low paid jobs or
lose their benefits.
A celebration was being held on an upper floor with officials and CBT practitioners
who will be paid to administer the 'Back to Work' therapy, which will doubtless
be backed up by 'sanctions' - loss of benefits - for those who refuse to undergo
it, drop out or who fail to get back to work after undergoing it, who will
be deemed 'uncooperative.'
CBT has been used in the UK NHS under the IAPT scheme introduced in 2008 as
a low cost therapy that has largely become a low quality therapy being offered
by poorly trained practitioners and tends to have a much higher drop out rate
than other methods. Many doubt the basis of the method and question the methodology
behind studies that claim to have found it effective. The UK Council for Psychotherapy
issued a very critical press release in on IAPT.
Medical treatment should be determined on medical grounds and the needs of
the patients, and not prescribed by job centre staff and the desire to cut
the cost of benefits.
The march was organised by the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) and
supported by other groups and individuals. When the marchers reached the job
centre they were refused entrance by security men, who told one of the protesters
in a wheel chair "There are no jobs for you here."
But earlier, a small group of protesters had managed to infiltrate the event,
and there were loud cheers when they lowered a large banner from the top floor
window where it was taking place with the message 'Back to work therapy is
no therapy at all'. A few minutes later the banner was pulled inside and those
with it were escorted out of the building, emerging to loud applause. Several
of them, including Paula Peters of DPAC, then spoke at the event.
Change Europe, Solidarity with Greece!
Trafalgar Square, London. Tue 23 Jun 2015
speaker from Podemos, the left-wing populist party in Spain
Campaigners in a European week of solidarity for Greece called for an end
to the catastrophic austerity and privatisation policies of the EU institutions
and to support the stand led by the Greek government for social justice and
democracy in Europe.
The protest was supported by a wide range of speakers including Dr Marina
Prentoulis of Syriza, Paul Mackney of the Greek Solidarity campaign, Romayne
Phoenix, Co-chair of the People's Assembly and a leading Green Party member,
Dr Elizabeth Lawrence, Vice President of UCU, Nick Dearden of Global Justice
Now, Andrew Burgin of Left Unity, a speaker from the Spanish left-wing populist
party Podemos, Sarah-Jayne Clifton from Jubilee Debt Campaign and Sara Callaway
of Women of Colour in the Global Women's Strike.
Greece protesters join Pride Flag bearers
Trafalgar Square, London. Tue 23 Jun 2015
Protesters argue to be included in the pictures
Protesters against austerity and the EU treatment of Greece joined a group
of people being photographed carrying national flags for Pride in London,
arguing that austerity was a gay issue. After some argument a few pictures
were taken and they left.
Class War in Whitehall
Whitehall, London. Sat 20 Jun 2015
woman talks to Adam Clifford of Class War holding a baby and a banner outside
the gates of Downing St
Class War protested in Whitehall with banners, a smoke flare and dancing
to a sound system before moving to the gates of Downing St. Three banners
were displayed, a flare or two was thrown over the gates and and there was
Class War at the Savoy
Strand, London. Sat 20 Jun 2015
Class War insist on the right to protest outside the
After a rest in the pub, most of the Class War group decided to walk down
to Westminster to carry out some further protests their. As they crossed over
to the Strand, they decided to hurry to get ahead of their police escort and
protest outside the Savoy Hotel.
When they arrived they found that police were already standing there, probably
because the 'End Austerity' march had passed there not long ago. But they
unrolled their banners again and briefly blocked the entrance with 'New Homes
for the Rich' and 'Lucy Parsons' banners. After minor scuffles and arguments
with police they marched on.
Class War at End Austerity Now
Queen Victoria St, London. Sat 20 Jun 2015
Class War held their banner on a footway overlooking
Class War stood on the wall of a high path next the to the route of the
End Austerity March displaying their banners and were cheered by many passing.
One banner was based on an old poster which Lisa McKenzie was recently arrested
Class War called for an end of A to B marches to rallies and called for direct
action, and diverted several hundred from the march towards the Elephant to
support the squatted pub which Foxtons want to open as an estate agents. Unfortunately
I only heard about this group too late to follow them.
As well as the 'political leaders' banner, an earlier version of which police
seized a couple of months ago at 'Poor Doors', they had also brought the also
contentious 'We have found new homes for the rich', with its rows of grave
crosses extending into the distance, which Police are still pressing charges
against Lisa McKenzie for displaying as a poster and banner. They also had
the Lucy Parsons banner, but police have so far failed to react to her injunction
"We must devastate the avenues where the wealthy live." Lisa was
there with the others, along with Adam Clifford who stood for Class War in
the Westminster constituency, today wearing a top with fake exposed breasts
and holding a fairly lifelike looking baby.
The Class War display provoked some different mainly positive reactions from
the passing crowds of marchers, with many raising fists and shouting in solidarity,
clapping and otherwise showing approval, with just a few shaking their heads
or trying hard to ignore it. This was made more difficult on occasions as
several flares were set off, sending blue smoke over the march.
The People's Assembly End Austerity march in London was massive, with people
marching against cuts in welfare, education and public services, privatisation
of the NHS, hospital closures and many other issues, and I watched and photographed
much of it as it took well over an hour to pass the Class War protest, walking
quite slowly but filling the street fairly densely from one side to the other.
At one point around 30 police gathered behind Class War watching them and
it looked as if they were about to take action, but then there was a discussion
between several senior officers on the scene, after which most of the police
rapidly walked away.
As the end of the march passed them, Class War joined in but only for a couple
of hundred yards before turning of the route and going in search of a pub,
followed as they made their way towards St Paul's by a number of police who
waited outside the Olde London for the next hour or so as Class War relaxed
and then planned further action.
End Austerity Now at Bank
Bank, London. Sat 20 Jun 2015
People wait at bank for the start of the march to
Thousands gathered in the middle of the day at Bank in the City of London
for the start of a massive march to Parliament Square to protest against austerity
- nasty, destructive cuts to the NHS, the welfare state, education and public
'3 Cosas' at Royal College of Music
Kensington, London. Fri 19 Jun 2015
Protesters made very loud and rather discordant music outside to put pressure
on the RCM
The IWGB union today protested noisily at the Royal College of Music
after it failed to meet their demands to improve their conditions of service
for outsourced workers. Their '3 Cosas' campaign is for reasonable sick pay,
holidays and pensions.
Last autumn the union's actions gained the London living wage for the outsourced
workers, but they only get statutory sick pay if they are off work, which
means if they are ill they have to come into work to be able to pay the rent.
They want a similar sick pay scheme to the directly employed workers at the
college, which is considerably more generous.
They also want a similar contractual leave entitlement rather than the statutory
minimum. Currently all full-time workers are entitled to 28 days paid holidays,
which for them include the bank holidays. They are also restricted as to when
they may take the remaining days, making it difficult for those who have families
in distant countries to visit them.
The IWGB is also pressing for the outsourced workers to have a reasonable
pension scheme comparable to workers employed by the college.
The noisy protest outside the main door of the college lasted around an hour,
with protesters using megaphones, blowing plastic horns and whistles and banging
drums as well as shouting. In between the periods of loud noise, there were
short speeches making clear to those outside and inside the building exactly
why the union was holding the protest.
During the protest a steady stream of students and staff entered and left
the building, some carrying large musical instruments. The protesters offered
them leaflets and made sure the entrance was not blocked. At the end they
made the usual promise to return for another protest unless the college met
Climate Coalition Rally
Millbank, London. Wed 17 Jun 2015
Painted faces in the crowd at the rally on Millbank
At a large open air rally after the mass Climate lobby religious leaders
and others from a few of the over 100 organisations involved called on the
government to end dirty energy and invest in a green future as our only hope
Although many of those who had attended the mass lobby began their journeys
home, enough stayed for the rally which filled a stretch of Millbank, with
others standing or sitting on the grass in the adjoining Victoria Gardens.
You could hear the speeches well there, though most would have not had much
of a view of the giant screen on which the speakers and some short films were
Although there were some good contributions, I found the rally a little of
a disappointment. I rather like Arthur Smith, who chaired the event, but it
wasn't one of his better performances, but there were some rather vacuous
'celebrity' appearances I could have done without.
Among the more interesting speakers were three representing Christianity,
Judaism and Islam, Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon, Rabbi Jonathan
Wittenberg and one of the founders of Muslim Climate Action. Actress Doon
Mackichan read an appropriate poem, Nancy Lindisfarne from Grandparents for
Climate Action and Liz Crew, a farmer from Moorland in the Somerset Levels,
hit by flooding in 2014 also made interesting contributions, and Asad Rehman
of Friends of the Earth made a powerful closing speech, perhaps the only time
there was a real attempt to tackle the political issues that are central to
any effective action on climate.
Climate Coalition Mass Lobby on Climate Change
Westminster & Lambeth, London. Wed 17 Jun 2015
Labour's Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton in
the centre of a large group from her constituency
Thousands came from across the UK to lobby MPs on the urgency of fighting
climate change and to speak up for things they love under threat from global
warming, hoping to persuade the government to take a global lead at the Paris
talks in December.
People attending the protest were organised into constituency groups which
met up at points in Victoria Gardens, across Lambeth Bridge and on along the
Albert Embankment, though some arranged to meet MPs inside the Houses of Parliament
or elsewhere. A bicycle rickshaw taxi service was arranged to take MPs from
Old Palace Yard to their constituents, though many preferred to walk.
I was told that over 250 MPs came to meet voters and discuss the issues with
them, but as the lobby was spread out over several hours and a wide area I
was only able to photograph a small sample. My own MP was too busy that afternoon,
but did hold a meeting with a small group at the constituency office several
Most of the MPs that I heard talking seemed to be aware of the need to take
action over climate change, though I heard rather too many making excuses
for not being able to take the kind of urgent action that is now imperative.
A few too seemed to have a patronising attitude that would certainly have
lost them my vote (as too does my own MP - but I didn't vote for him.)
The only real argument I saw as I walked around came from a group who having
dealt with the climate issues got on to housing, with the MP defending the
indefensible actions of the Labour local authority in emptying out their council
estates and handing them over to be developed for private sale.
Support Saudi blogger Raif Badawi
Downing St, London. Wed 17 Jun 2015
Women hold posters of Raif Badawi and his lawyer his
lawyer Waleed Abulkhair, also in jail
A coalition of human rights organisations, including Index on Censorship,
English Pen and the Peter Tatchell Foundation rallied to urge Saudi Arabia
to free jailed blogger Raif Badawi, handing in a letter to David Cameron.
The protest was part of an international day of action in support of Badawi
and his lawyer Waleed Abulkhair, also in jail.
Free speech activist and liberal blogger Raif Badawi was first arrested on
17 June 2012 and is still in prison, In May 2014 he was convicted for insulting
Islam and founding a liberal website and fined 1 million riyals (£175,000)
and a ten-year prison sentence. The Jeddah court also sentenced Badawi to
1,000 lashes, which he is thought unlikely to survive.
Badawi was flogged 50 times on 9 January 2015, after morning prayers and
was scheduled to be given another 50 lashes every Friday until the total was
reached. Further floggings have been postponed as he was found not to have
recovered sufficiently. No explanation has been given for the postponement
of further floggings.
Despite huge international outcry against the sentence and barbaric punishment,
the Saudi Supreme Court has upheld the sentence. But so far the flogging has
New MPs Stand with Shaker
Parliament Square, London. Wed 17 Jun 2015
The giant inflatable Shaker Aamer for the 'Stand with Shaker' campaign lies
down in Parliament Square
Two of the new intake of MPs, Twickenham Conservative Tania Mathias and
Labour MP for Norwich South Clive Lewis, came to 'Stand with Shaker' at today's
vigil to show their support for the release of the Londoner still held in
Guantanamo after more than 13 years.
The Free Shaker Aamer campaign as usual lined the roadway for their weekly
lunchtime vigil to remind Parliament that Shaker is still held there, despite
being cleared for release in 2007. He is understood still to be kept in Guantanamo
because he could give evidence that would embarrass both US and UK security
services about torture at Bagram and inside Guantanamo.
Magna Carta justice for Shaker Aamer
Downing St, London. Mon 15 Jun 2015
Joy Hurcombe and Kate Hudson at the rally
On the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, campaigners called for the release
of Shaker Aamer, 'denied right and justice', cleared for release in 2007,
now in his 14th year of unlawful imprisonment in Guantanamo, in solitary confinement,
tortured and abused, never charged or tried.
Among the speakers at the vigil were Joy Hurcombe of the Free Shaker
Aamer campaign, Kate Hudson of CND, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Yvonne
Ridley and John McDonnell MP.
Close Yarls Wood, End Detention!
Parliament Square, London. Mon 15 Jun 2015
A police officer comes to tell the protesters they are
not allowed to use a megaphone
The All African Women's Group led a rally in the International week against
detention centres, calling for the closure of all immigration detention centres
and then marched to Downing St with a report on rape and sexual abuse in Yarl's
Wood. It was part of international protests to close detention centres taking
place in eleven cities in the UK, USA, Belgium, Greece and Spain.
The protest attracted a large crowd of protesters and it was difficult to
fit them all on the paved area of Parliament Square where protests are permitted.
One of the first speakers was whistleblower Noel Finn, a former mental
health nurse at Yarl's Wood who revealed publicly details of the abuse of
women there after his complaints through the proper channels at the detention
prison were not acted on.
A number of the members of the All African Women's Group who spoke
had at one time been held in Yarls Wood and were able to speak from their
experiences there, as did some other former residents. Several MPs came to
give their support, including Diane Abbott, who was the subject of
some heckling over the Labour government's policies on immigration and detention
of immigrants, to which she replied robustly; Jeremy Corbyn and John
McDonnell who have consistently supported the protests against detention
got a much warmer welcome. Newly elected Labour and Co-operative MP for Edmonton
Kate Osamor also came and spoke briefly.
Other speakers included Antonia Bright from Movement for Justice
which has organised a whole series of protests outside the immigration prisons
at Harmondsworth, Yarl's Wood and elsewhere, Peter Tatchell and Selma
After the rally had been going for almost three-quarters of an hour, a police
officer came to inform the organisers that it was against the law to use a
megaphone in Parliament Square without authorisation from the Greater London
Authority or Westminster Council. The protesters told him the rally would
not continue much longer and that several of the remaining speakers were members
of parliament, and he left and the rally continued.
Around twenty minutes later the rally finished, and the protesters tried
to line up for a group photograph, though this was difficult on the narrow
pavement, before marching to Downing St to deliver a dossier on rape and sexual
abuse in Yarl's Wood to David Cameron.
Apparently you need to give a week's notice to hand in a letter, and there
was some discussion with the police on the gates. Eventually the officer there
agreed to take the dossier and ensure that it was delivered to No 10, and
after a short speech and more loud chanting the protest dispersed.
Cleaners International Justice Day
Whitehall, London. Mon 15 Jun 2015
Protesters pull on yellow rubber gloves for the protest
PCS members in yellow gloves called for a living wage for all workers in
HMRC buildings at a protest at HM Revenue and Customs in Whitehall, one of
protests in over 50 countries on the 25th International Justice Day for Cleaners
and Security Guards.
Voice for Justice UK Magna Carta Protest
Old Palace Yard, London. Mon 15 June 2015
Craig, former leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance and UKIP candidate
in Brent North
Voice for Justice's Magna Carta Day rally at Parliament called for a
genuine freedom, equality and diversity in opposition to increasing human
rights legislation which right-wing Christians feel maginalise and prevent
them expressing their faith.
Voice for Justice ask how real are the liberties that Magna Carta
sets out today:
"Freedom of speech … only where it supports the new dogma
Freedom of conscience … only so long as it doesn’t infringe
Freedom of belief … only in private and behind closed
They claim that the "truth is that Christians are being increasingly
marginalized and gagged! Faith is being redefined." And they ask "Where
will it all end?"
I arrived as Linda Stalley, co-leader at the Maranatha Community was speaking
on the Judeo-Christian basis of Magna Carta, but after her came two speeches
which appalled me, and appeared to have no connection with my idea of freedom,
reminding of various short-lived ultra-right political groups such as the
Freedom Party, formed in 2000 by ex-BNP members.
One of the speakers was Alan Craig, former leader of the Christian
Peoples Alliance and UKIP candidate in Brent North (in the interests of balance
I should add he was also involved in the campaign to save Queens Road Market
and against the DSEI arms fair in East London.) In 2011 he became notorious
by referring to 'gay-rights storm troopers' and in 2013 became the spokesperson
for the group 'Gay Marriage No Thanks'. One of the men in the crowd I photographed
was wearing a badge of the anti-gay 'Section 28 Children's Protection Christian
The next speaker was Paul Tully, general secretary of the Society for the
Protection of Unborn Children. It seemed that this was a rally that was protesting
the freedom to be a bigot rather than any real idea of religious or other
Truth & Justice Magna Carta Day Protest
Royal Courts of Justice, London. Mon 15 Jun 2015
Campaigners spent the day outside the courts
A Campaign for Truth & Justice protest at the Royal Courts of Justice
accused the judiciary of unlawful convictions, false imprisonment, denial
of access to court & perverting the course of justice over child abuse,
forced adoption and paedophilia.
It's hard to establish any real facts about the Campaign for Truth &
Justice, which was set up by Caul Grant at some time after his son Prince
Anthony Grant died of dehydration in Kings College Hospital on September 3rd,
1994, allegedly through neglect by the hospital. Grant claims that his attempts
to find out the truth behind this tragic death were prevented by the covering
up of the hospital, the solicitors handling his case under legal aid, and
In his campaign to find the truth Grant has engaged in a number of protest
actions which have led to his arrest and to his claims that the judicial system
in corrupt and that "I have had every single one of my human rights,
guaranteed by the rule of law, violated without remedy and the violations
continue without any let up." He further states the he has been "unlawfully
convicted and imprisoned for a period totalling 9 ½ years without right
of access to court by way of appeal or habeas corpus" and that he is
thus "not obliged to nor legally bound by any laws within the United
Others involved in the campaign include a number of people who feel - and
probably with justification - that they have been badly treated by the family
courts, where gagging orders prevent them from talking about their cases or
seeking any redress. The campaign also includes some who were victims of child
abuse where there have clearly been abusers protected at the highest levels
of government, details of which have in some cases been made public in recent
years, though much more is expected to emerge. There seems no doubt that there
was (and perhaps still is) something pretty rotten at the heart of our establishment.
Most of those involved are sincere and concerned, but it is a strange mixture.
One man, wearing a badge of the UFO religion the Ashtar Command told me that
we would all be getting a fortune by a date in July, on the basis that our
birth certificates were contracts that leads to a bond. I couldn't quite understand
where the million or two pounds was going to come from, but I'm waiting for
Staines celebrates Magna Carta
Staines, Middx. Sat 13 Jun 2015
Diabolus in Musica from the West Midlands at the Lammas
Staines, where the barons met before forcing King John to seal Magna
Carta, celebrated the 800th anniversary with a small flotilla of boats, including
a three of those that went to Dunkirk in 1940 to take part in the evacuation,
making its way along the Thames and a medieval-themed fair on the Lammas,
close to where the barons camped.
The fair, called the Barons Gathering, included displays by 'knights'
on horseback with sword fighting and jousting, while medieval musicians entertained.
The flotilla came up to the Lammas before turning and going back.
The Lammas park is on the Wraysbury Rd, on the way to the ancient yew at
Ankerwyke, a tree thought to be 2,500 years old and a well-known meeting place
in the middle ages, which is thought by many to be the most likely place where
the Magna Carta was sealed, with the Barons coming from Runnymede to meet
the King coming from Wraysbury.
They had gone to Runnymede from their camp at Staines, possibly even on the
Lammas fields, but almost certainly not too far away from the neighbouring
St Mary's Church where during their time there, Stephen Langton, the Archbishop
of Canterbury and one of the main people behind the charter made two new Welsh
bishops, of St. David’s and Bangor.
It somehow didn't seem a very local event, with minimal participation by
local groups other than a few boat owners, and the various 'medieval' elements
were bought in performers from various groups around the country including
the Knights Of Nottingham and musicians from the West Midlands. A few local
groups did have stalls at the event.
Police threaten Runnymede Magna Carta festival
Runnymede Eco-Village, Surrey. Fri 12 Jun 2015
Tea and cakes inside the Long House at the Runnymede
Police surrounded the Runnymede Eco Village as the Magna Carta weekend
Festival For Democracy was to start and prevented some people entering, issuing
some with exclusion notices covering a wide area.
The police action appeared to be an entirely politically motivated action
against the community and its many friends to prevent their long-planned celebrations
of Magna Carta, a charter supposed to represent freedom under the law but
here at its very source 800 years ago it was being suppressed in an unfair
and arbitrary manner by the forces of the Law.
You can read more about the plans which began when the eco-village was first
set up exactly three years earlier, and had sat in a circle next to the Magna
Carta Memorial and begun plans for a celebration this weekend, as well as
about the various attempts in the past few months when attempts were made
to evict them, and of the events on the day on >Re:Photo in Celebrating
Magna Carta, and I'll try not to repeat myself too much here.
I arrived before the police and was warmly welcomed by the community at the
eco-village, and was able to wander freely around the large site taking photographs.
Later, together with two other photographers and a videographer and assistant
we Met by Phoenix and Vinny and after tea and cakes were taken on a conducted
tour by Vinny, who showed us a few of the more remarkable homes constructed
by residents on the site and talked about the peaceful and cooperative environment
they had, with decisions and order by consensus, before leaving us to wander
Most of the homes scattered around the trees had open doors, and during the
whole visit I only came across one that was locked, although were empty with
the residents on the festival field or otherwise getting ready for the event.
The few we met as we walked around were all welcoming and happy to talk and
be photographed, and it seemed a great place to live so long as you were able
to put up with a slightly spartan lifestyle. At my age I feel a need for hot
and cold running water and a more pampered existence, but at least in summer
a more open existence in the woods has its attractions.
Halfway through my visit I came to one of the gates into the area (it was
fenced off by its owners not long ago, possibly in preparation for what was
now happening) to be surprised by seeing a group of half a dozen police officers
standing on the National Trust land outside. Even more surprised when from
a distance I watched through the trees as they turned away a small group of
walkers on their way to the festival.
Returning to the site's main building, a fairly cozy structure with traditional
wattle and daub walls next to the camp fire area surrounded by comfortable
seats and with some cover, I saw more police standing just outside the gate
there, and heard there were others stopping people on the road at the top
of the hill which was the main entrance to the site.
I left around 4.30pm, when Phoenix was still negotiating with the senior
police officer at the gate. The eco-village community were planning a legal
event on the site which would have caused no distress to local residents with
whom they have good relations - and some were visiting the site for the festival,
as police were allowing locals including those living on the site to enter.
The police surrounding the area apparently came from several different forces,
and their orders appear to have been inconsistent. One journalist was told
if she left the site she would not be allowed back in, while another was told
he would be, but only if he used the same gate.
Police at the entrance told me they were there to protect the eco-camp residents
against a planned 'rave' on the football field next to their camp (certainly
a cock and bull story, almost certainly emanating from the authorities) and
were not intending to prevent the event at the camp - which was clearly what
they were actually doing, turning away a number of people who had arrived
Listening in to the conversation between the officer and Phoenix, it later
became clear that the officer was lying to him about the police intentions,
and reading the Surrey police web site later that evening it became clear
that the police action was a deliberate attempt to prevent the planned festival
from going ahead. Together with Surrey County Council they had made an order
under Section 63 of the The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 which
allows police power to restrict access, remove people and issue exclusion
orders. It seemed a clear abuse of a law intended for quite different purposes,
and I will be surprised if any of those arrested ever reach court.
This is a section specifically aimed at stopping illegal raves and should
only be used to prevent ‘amplified music’ being played during
the night, and certainly not for the festivals such as this one - hence the
need for the authorities to spread rumours of an illegal rave. As well as
being turned away, people were being given exclusion orders banning them from
coming within five miles of the village, and several arrests were made for
breach of this. But the police action seemed a clear abuse of a law intended
for quite different purposes, and I will be surprised if any of those arrested
ever reach court.
At the time I wrote:
It would indeed seem a travesty if at a time when we are celebrating
800 years of freedom under the law against the arbitrary power of the state
achieved at Runnymede, the authorities should abuse the law by using those
arbitrary powers to prevent a people’s celebration of freedom.
I didn't return on the following three days, but from reports it would seem
that the police action wasn't entirely successful; although many failed to
get through, others were either allowed in by claiming they lived there or
were resourceful enough to get over the fence, either before or after being
banned from the area. Although the festival was reduced, a number of the planned
workshops and performances took place.
In another attempt to prevent the festival taking place, the court appearance
for the eviction from the site was set for the Monday of the festival, when
a little further down the hill (and a little further from where the charter
was probably signed) the Queen was attending the official event.
But only a small group of the residents attended the court to give evidence,
which the court failed to listen to, making an order for eviction, apparently
on the basis that the right of private property trumps all other rights. But
again the state acted clumsily, and a a few days later Mr Justice Knowles
in the High Court ordered a stay of execution accepting that many matters
raised by the applicants might not of been dealt with adequately by the lower
Court. Interestingly their case includes the assertion of rights granted by
Magna Carta and its 1217 companion Charter of the Forest
as well as the rather more recent European Convention on Human Rights.
If successful it could well be a landmark case
Day Of Action For Candy Udwin
National Gallery, London, Thu 11 Jun 2015
Udwin reads from the interim tribunal ruling that says her action was that
of a normal trade union rep
A rally in front of the National Gallery on the North Terrace of Trafalgar
Square was a part of a day of action on the 35th day of strike against gallery
privatisation to support sacked PCS rep Candy Udwin.
As well as Candy, there were also speeches from a succession of people giving
their support, including PCS assistant general secretary Chris Baugh, John
McDonnell MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, and a
number of trade unionists.
During the rally, Candy Udwin read a little from the judges comments in the
interim tribunal ruling that concluded that the actions for which she was
sacked were normal for any trade unionist and that the gallery's actions had
been unreasonable. The next stage is for her appeal to be heard by the gallery,
who are standing by their decision to sack her and seem likely to ensure she
gets an unfavourable hearing. The action by workers at the gallery has already
won the living wage, and morale seemed to be very high, with them greeting
the news of further strikes with enthusiasm.
Dorney, Bucks. Mon 8 Jun 2015
A few pictures from another family walk. Dorney is just to the west of Eton,
and the walk took us next past Eton's Olympic boating lake and across the
Jubilee River, a kind of Thames by-pass built to stop flooding on the millionaires
homes at Maidenhead and send the water fast downriver to flood the plebs at
Wraysbury and Staines instead. And as we saw in 2014, it proved very effective.
We went as far as a lock on the Thames, then turned back and made our way
to the pub for lunch. It was the best part of the walk and I recommend it
Ukrainian Vyshyvanka Embroidery march
Whitehall, London. Sun 7 Jun 2015
Ukrainian children wearing traditional Vyshyvanka embroidery,
banned in pro-Russian areas of Ukraine
Ukrainians met at Downing St in traditional embroidered Ukrainian shirts
(Vyshyvanka), the wearing of which is now a criminal offence in pro-Russian
areas. The event was said to be non-political but was aimed at preserving
a united Ukraine, with some carrying or wearing Ukrainian flags or carrying
flowers in the blue and yellow of the flag.
The wearing of flowers and traditional embroidery is now outlawed in the
pro-Russian areas. A few placards called for peace and showed their opposition
to Putin. After a meeting opposite Downing St with some singing of the National
Anthem and other songs they marched towards Trafalgar Square. There seemed
to be little agreement about where they should go, though some thought they
might end up at either the Ukrainian Embassy or the statue of St Vladimir
the Great, the King who made his country Christian in AD 988 on Holland Park
Sikh freedom rally for Khalistan
Waterloo Place, London. Sun 7 Jun 2015
Sikhs block Pall Mall at the end of the march
Speakers at a rally at the end of the Sikh Freedom March called for the
recognition of the 1984 Sikh genocide, the release of all Sikh political prisoners
held in Indian jails, and for a referendum and the formation of a Sikh State,
The marchers spilled over into Pall Mall, and police tried with little success
to move them from the roadway and keep traffic moving.
Sikhs march for justice and freedom
Hyde Park, London. Sun 7 Jun 2015
Some men marched in orange jumpsuits and handcuffs, representing Sikh political
prisoners in Indian jails.
Thousands marched remembering the destruction at the Golden Temple in
Amritsar, calling for truth and justice about the 1984 massacre and the continuing
oppression of Sikhs, with many missing, abused or killed. The Sikhs called
for their own state, an independent Khalistan.
Before the march there were speeches in Hyde Park, ending as usual with five
Khalsa (baptised Sikhs) in saffron robes and carrying swords representing
the five blessed ones coming up onto the stage.
As the march set off behind the two standard bearers and the Panj Pyare,
barefoot and with their swords raised, a group of Sikh bikers with their turbans
in place of helmets swung into line behind them. The were followed by a larger
group in orange overalls and handcuffs, representing the many Sikh political
prisoners held in Indian jails.
Several thousand Sikhs, many with banners or placards, marched behind them
as they marched down Park Lane and up Piccadilly on their way to a rally at
Swanscombe, Kent. Sat 6 Jun 2015
Thames, Grays and Tilbury from Broadness Salt Marshes
I first visited and photographed on the Swanscombe peninsula in the 1980s
as a part of an extensive project on Lower Thameside over several years. Swanscombe
and neighbouring Northfleet, Greenhithe and Stone were the centre of the cement
industry, with huge quarries being excavated for chalk and large manufacturing
The area was one of those where modern 'Portland' Cement was developed, with
large scale manufacturing being developed here from the 1840s on, thank to
suitable chalk hills with up to 100ft of useable material. There were also
local supplies of the other main material required, clay, as well as larger
amounts a little further down river at Cliffe and across the river from Essex.
The Swanscombe plant was the largest in Britain from 1840 until 1930, and
until the 1970s the area around with large plants at Stone, Greenhithe, Swanscombe
and Northfleet was the largest cement producing area in Europe, mainly run
by Blue Circle. The Swanscombe plant, opened in 1825, finally closed in 1990;
those in Northfleet continued for some years but all had closed by 2014.
Manufacture required heating the raw materials at high temperatures, at first
to over 600 °C and later to 1450 °C, and coal was brought from Durham
and up the Thames. Later coal was replaced by oil, also brought in on the
river and the plants changed to using the large rotary kilns that dominate
some of the images I made in the 1980s.
By the time I first visited Swanscombe, the area was largely derelict, the
local chalk long mainly worked out, or at least worked to the very edge of
the main road and the village to the south. Beyond that, there were still
huge open quarries - one of which is now occupied by the Bluewater shopping
centre. The cement works at Swanscombe had ceased operation (though at Northfleet
they were still very much in business) and the jetties were disused. The area
was a post-industrial wasteland which was rapidly becoming reclaimed by nature.
And one that I found fascinating.
I returned to walk and photograph around the area occasionally since then,
mainly just to see how things had changed and to make new photographs. In
the early years of this century, the high speed rail link came through the
area, diving into tunnel to go under the Thames, and I came to photograph
it here as well as to the north of the river. Currently I'm working on a book
of the pictures from the 1980s; a few of those from 2000-2001are in my Thamesgate
When in 2012 I heard there was a plan to turn the area into the Paramount
London theme park I was keen to come and photograph it again before that happened,
but somehow I hadn't done so until today, when the weather seemed so perfect
I couldn't put it off any longer.
I took my Brompton on the train to Swanscombe, cycled back to Lovers Lane
and went down this to the Ingress Park development, where the footpath was
difficult to follow due to building works, so I made my way through the estate
to the riverside path, following that along downriver. After photographing
around Bell Wharf where I met some boys exploring and people painting graffiti
on some of the walls, I detoured inland almost as far as Manor Way, and then
returned to the river and the pier, then taking a track to the giant pylon
that carries the National Grid across the river, and going along by the Thames
to the moorings on Broadness Salt Marshes.
I stopped briefly to chat with some of the people there then made my way
to the end of the path on the opposite side of the creek, but it gave out
before I reached the lighthouse. I turned back and cycled down to the path
that leads across the peninsula, following that around the edge of Botany
Marshes, now a nature reserve. The path turns south to run beside the private
Botany Way, emerging on to Lower Road close to the A226 main road to Swanscombe
and Dartford, Galley Hill Rd, which I walked up with my bike so I could take
pictures of the Kent Kraft Industrial Estate in the quarry below, and, a little
further on, the High Speed Rail line and its tunnel mouth.
At the top of the Hill in Swanscombe I turned down Pilgrim's Road, a narrow
peninsula between two quarries. Unfortunately the view to the west is now
restricted by an earth bank, with a fence and warning notices to keep people
off. At Manor Way I turned left along it back to the A226, cycling up it because
trees and fences make the views very restricted. There was just time for a
few more pictures looking south from Galley Hill Road to the east of Swanscombe
Church (now flats) before it was time to go and catch the train.
Most of these images are panoramic in scope, with a very high horizontal
and vertical field of view - over 140 degrees horizontal. It isn't possible
to produce such a wide angle of view and maintain rectilinear perspective
- some straight lines in the image have to curve. The effect gets more pronounced
away from the horizon, and normally I crop the top and bottom to reduce the
effect and give the panoramas a panoramic format. But here you see the whole
image, with a roughly 90 degree vertical angle of view. There are a few exceptions,
made with a more normal rectilinear lens.
Barking Creek, London. Thu 4 Jun 2015
The tide comes in at the Barking Barrage, a half-tide
lock officially opened in 1998.
I'd hoped that by now the path alongside Barking Creek on the west bank
down to the flood barrier would be opened up, but I was disappointed, with
the gates from behind the Showcase Cinemas just south of A13 still being firmly
locked. It's marked on my OS map as a 'traffic-free cycle route', but it turns
out to also be cycle and person free.
As on my previous visit, the path by the river north was open,and I walked
along it past Cuckold's Haven and then around to the Barking Barrage, a half
tide barrier opened in 1998, going across this and returning alongside the
east bank of the Creek to the A13, where I took a bus to Beckton and the DLR.
Barking Creek is the mouth of the River Roding, which used to be navigable
by barges to Ilford. Now anything larger than a canoe would find it difficult
past the railway bridge around a mile upstream from the barrage.
The Line - Sculpture Trail
Royal Victoria Dock, London. Thu 4 Jun 2015
One of three sculptures on 'The Line' sculpture trail
around the Royal Victoria Dock, Martin Creed’s 'Work 700'
From the protest against G4S at the Excel Centre I walked over the high level
bridge and around Victoria Dock to find the three sculptures there which are
part of 'The Line' East London Sculpture Trail. I wasn't impressed, there
is much more interesting 'sculpture' you can find around the dock. The piece
outside the Crystal is rather less impressive than the building, a vaguely
militaristic distorted giant anvil, banal in the extreme. Further around is
a large girder that might have been left over from some building work, its
most interesting feature the rust on it.
The only at all impressive piece here is I think 'Vulcan' (1999), a 30ft-high
bronze figure by the late Scottish artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, and I don't
feel that this is one of his most impressive works.
G4S AGM Torture Protest
Excel Centre, London. Thu 4 Jun 2015
Inminds protesters get out their Boycott Israel Palestinian
flags outside the Excel Centre
G4S's AGM was held on the UN International Day of Innocent Children Victims
of Aggression and the protest raised the child victims of Israel's G4S secured
dungeons and torture dens and its human rights abuses in UK detention centres
Protesters from the StopG4S coalition including the Islamic Human Rights
Commission, Innovative Minds, Avaaz, Boycott Israel Network, Palestine Solidarity
Campaign, War on Want, Women of Colour, Global Womens Strike, Hackney Refugee
and Migrant, Support Group and London Palestine Action protested noisily with
flags and banners on the paved area in front of the centre, while a number
of shareholder protesters had gone in to ask questions in the meeting, and
were removed one by one by security.
After last year's events inside the AGM here, security for this year's meeting
was tight, with those attending not being allowed to take in phones so that
the forcible removal of protesters could not be filmed, and press were very
strictly not welcome inside. Several of those who were ejected this year came
and spoke about what had happened when they tried to ask questions, and the
general feeling inside the AGM, which appeared to be one of some despondency.
Probably the 1,792,311 signatures on the Avaaz petition calling on G4S to
stop running Israeli prisons was at least part of the reason for this, as
well as the regular protests by Inminds outside the Victoria St head offices
of the company.
Excel Security made several attempts to get the protesters to move further
from the buildings, and when a request was made to reduced the noise as it
was affecting students taking an exam inside the centre, after some discussion
they did move further away.
'Mock the Opera protest at Kensington cuts
Notting Hill to Holland Park, London. Tue 2 Jun 2015
Protesters at Holland Park Opera, hugely subsidised
by the council for mainly rich opera-lovers, while vital services in Kensington
& Chelsea face huge cuts
Protesters marched from Ladbroke Grove where social services, homelessness
prevention schemes, nurseries and urban stables face cuts and closure to Holland
Park Opera, which receives huge subsidies from the local council, which has
huge reserves and since 2010 has underspent on vital services by £83.7m.
The marchers met outside the Westway Trust whose plans to regenerate the
local area they say ignore the needs of the local community and will shut
down local businesses and resources for the benefit of foreign investors.
A trust that was meant to protect the community interests now appears to be
more interested in the millions it can make selling flats that no one in the
community can afford.
Nottng Hill is in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, which has
been called the "richest borough in the Universe" and has
reserves of over £280m reserves, but is currently cutting its social
services, with homelessness prevention schemes, the local Maxilla nursery
and West London stables are under threat.
The protest, organised by local umbrella group Westway23 was supported by
the Radical Housing Network, Grenfell Action Group, Westway Stables, Portobello
Cafe Society and Unite Community as well as other groups. There was a banner
supporting the Maxilla Nursery and a pony from the community riding centre,
the West London Stables which has been under the Westway Flyover for almost
20 years, providing affordable and subsidised riding and equine therapy for
inner city residents, including disadvantaged and disabled children. There
were also some 'housing shields' made by a local artist.
After some drumming and brief speeches and chanting ('When the rhythm changes
- so does the dance!') outside the Westway Trust offices, the march set off
down Ladbrooke Grove and through the centre of Notting Hill, turning briefly
along Notting Hill Gate before going down Campden Hill Rd and into Holland
The reason for the visit was that the same council which is cutting vital
services for the vulnerable is giving £5m to Holland Park Opera, underwriting
its losses.The protest was promoted with the message 'Take Action. Stop Kensington
& Chelsea Council from Squeezing our Services as they splash out on Sopranos.'
Some of those attending the attending the opera took the leaflet and stopped
to discuss the situation with the protesters, while others reacted angrily.
A speaker from the protesters made it clear that they were not against opera
or the people who listen to it, but against the council and its cutting of
services, and the protest with its drumming and shouting ended before the
opera was scheduled to start to avoid spoiling the event for those who had
paid a part of the cost to hear it. But perhaps it isn't a sensible ordering
of priorities to subsidise those who were able to stand on the gallery drinking
champagne while cutting essential support to the poorest and most vulnerable
in the community.
Virgin Health hide behind NHS Logo
Tavistock Square, London. Tue 2 Jun 2015
'Branson' takes some cash from 'Cameron' at the protest
A protest at the London HQ of Virgin Care was part of a National day of
action against private healthcare companies who are hiding behind the NHS
logo, using the NHS Logo when delivering private care.
The protest was organised by The People's NHS, a community-led campaign to
help defend the NHS from private companies. Many MPs, including some cabinet
ministers profit from private medical companies that are taking over our NHS
is a bit-by-bit privatisation, taking on the straightforward parts that are
easy to make profits from, and The People's NHS have a web site where anyone
can find out if their MP is profiting from NHS privatisation. They also have
We are outraged that politicians with financial interests in the private
healthcare sector, totalling millions of pounds, voted on the Health and
Social Care Act that has led to a massive expansion in private sector involvement
in the NHS and created a profits bonanza for the same companies these MPs
and Lords are linked to.
No party stood on a platform of privatising the NHS. It is a scandal that
politicians who can personally benefit financially voted for this wave of
privatisation, when the general public have had no chance to cast our vote.
We demand that these parliamentarians give the money they have received
from their private healthcare interests to NHS charities, and that the Government
halts all sell-offs and conducts an urgent review of the Health and Social
The petition asks the MPs to "Give the money you took from private healthcare
companies to a local NHS charity." A second
petition calls on David Cameron to save the NHS from the effects of TTIP
by a minor change in the treaty text.
Stop Closure of Aboriginal Communities
Australia House, Aldwych, London. Mon 1 Jun 2015
A woman at the protest eats a cake decorated with a
rice-paper butterfly in the colours of the Aborigine flag
Protesters condemned the Western Australia state government for cutting
off power and water and closing up to 150 remote Aboriginal communities and
the Australian government for failing to honour its obligations to its First
The protesters were appalled by the dismissal of Aborigine rights by PM Tony
Abbott, who in talking about the forced closures referred to their culture
and communities as "a lifestyle choice." Placards carried the hashtag
#lifestylechoice, along with #sosblakaustralia and #noconsent.
Among the flags flying outside Australia House was the The Australian Aboriginal
Flag, one of the official "Flags of Australia" with special legal
and political status. It was originally designed for the land rights movement
in 1971 by Aboriginal artist Harold Thomas who descends from the Luritja people
of Central Australia and he retains the intellectual property rights to the
The black in the flag represents the Aboriginal people of Australia, and
the red is for the red ochre earth and the people's spiritual relation to
the land, with the yellow being the sun, giver of life and protector. The
protesters commented on the hypocrisy of the Australian government in flying
the flag while denying rights to the people whose flag it is. Some of their
placards also used the flag, and its colours featured on the delicious cakes
which were handed out at the event.
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