Monday, 29 August 2011

An Open Letter to Southwark Council

Published in the Southwark News and the South London Press.
Councillor Ian Wingfield is threatening to evict any Southwark council tenant involved in the riots or, more likely, any member of their family involved. Let us hope that as the weeks go by the Council comes up with a more forward-looking policy.

Already it is apparent that anybody who comes before the courts on a riot-related charge is very likely to end up in jail. Does the Council really think that a second sentence, that only applies to Council tenants, is the right way to proceed ? Such a second sentence of losing their home is likely to produce a breed of young person who feels - with some justification - that the whole of society is against them. It also makes it very difficult for parents trying to keep a home together, ready for when they get out.

The failure to invest in Council housing and the stigmatising of Council tenants has already produced a distinct feeling of alienation among young people on our estates.  Without jobs or training for the future, the future looks grim indeed and further cuts can only worsen the prospect.

Concils already have powers to deal with nuisance behaviour affecting neighbours and estates. But if Southwark and other Councils add this unfair burden to families of those convicted, the long term effect will be disastrous.

Mary Phillips, Southwark Defend Council Housing

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Last week’s events make it even more important that we fight the government‘s agenda of slashing the public services and wrecking our communities.

With youth unemployment at an all-time high and the vulnerable in our society being squeezed by cut after cut, no wonder many are angry.

There are statements from a variety of campaigning organisations here, here and here, and one written for a Southwark-based website here.

We have been sent details of an online petition that you might consider signing which calls for, amongst other things, an end to public sector spending cuts.

On Thursday this week, there is a public meeting in Brixton entitled “Defending our communities: The future of children and young people in Lambeth” at 6.30 pm, which is backed by Lambeth SOS and others.

Other events related to the issue of the riots, may be organised at short notice. Keep checking this page for updates.


Please come and help the 'Camberwell Needs a Jobcentre' Campaign:

Tuesday 16th August     12-1.30
Wed 17th        12-1.30
Thurs 18th         12-1.30
Meet at JCP office, Camberwell Green SE5 7AF.

Sat 20th August   1 - 3pm
Meet Butterfly Walk Shopping Centre, Camberwell SE5 8RW.

 If you can help with any of the above,  contact or ring 07879424631. Please sign our on line petition at petitiononline/pcslands   & send this link to your friends and colleagues.

Friday 19th August
‘Fighting the Cuts to our Benefits’. Discussion& organising meeting. Including the Judicial Review of Government actions in the Courts, introduced by Solicitor Ravi Low-Beer. Venue: Students Union Bar, Goldsmiths Student Union, University of London, Dixon Road, London SE14 6NW. Organised by Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN)

Other Meetings

Tuesday 23rd August
7pm Lambeth Keep Our NHS Public Meeting at The Priory Arms, Lansdowne Way. Stockwell. SW8 2BP. It is 5 minutes from Stockwell tube (See map)

Wednesday 31st August
7pm Emergency Meeting of 'London Keep Our NHS Public'. Camden Town Hall (venue to be confirmed)

3 – 9 September
Week of action: NHS trade unions are planning local campaigning events between3 and 9 September to coincide with the Bill returning to the Commons to include lobbying MPs, holding community stalls, petition- signing and press stunts. More details to follow.

Saturday 3rd September
‘Stop the EDL in East London’. The English Defence League attempt to use racism and violence to divert opposition to cuts and austerity. Assemble from 11am, Weavers Fields, London E2 6HW. Called by Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and supported by two national trade unions, many local campaigns and Southwark UNISON (Phone 020 7525 6030 for Southwark meet-up details.)

Wednesday 7thSeptember
Candle-lit vigil for the NHS Wednesday at Houses of Parliament to mark the Third Reading of the Health & Social Care Bill. Trade unions and community groups are planning to hold vigils at local hospitals and at the offices of local MPs. NHS staff and patients will gather for a candle lit vigil outside the Houses of Parliament at the time that MPs are due to vote on the Bill. To find out more sign up at the Join the vigil for the NHS website.

Advance Notice

Sunday 11 September
1.30pm. Rally & March calling for coordinated strike action on pensions throughout the public sector. Rally at Friends Meeting House, Euston (speakers to include Mark Serwotka and Bob Crow), then a march to the TUC. Organised by the National Shop Stewards Network ( NSSN.) supported by the PCS NEC. Petition and more details here.

March Against the Lib Dems – Birmingham, Sunday 18thSeptember. Supported by the Midlands TUC and anti-cuts groups across the Midlands.

March Against the Tories – Manchester, Sunday 2ndOctober. Supported by NW Region TUC, several national campaigns and trade unions. Enquiries about transport from Southwark here.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Letter sent to South London Press for weekend edition 12 August:

As people begin to assess the causes for the events in south London in the past few days (“This is something Cops thought might happen”,  SLP 9 August) the leaders of the main political parties seem uniformly committed to both supporting the need to increase policing and just as fervently denying that ‘the cuts’ had any bearing on what has happened.  

Even if we were to ignore the police killing of Mark Duggan last week and the ongoing doubts about the role of the police in the death of local reggae artist Smiley Culture, South Londoners shouldn’t be surprised that things ‘kicked off’. We live in a country where greed is well rewarded if you’re a banker or one of the 1,000 richest people whose fortunes increased by £333 billion last year alone. If you’re one of the forty people chasing every job vacancy in Peckham & Camberwell –and soon not even a Job Centre to visit if the planned closure of the Camberwell office goes through – getting into employment is three times as difficult as it was 12 months ago. And they say ‘the cuts’ haven’t made a difference!

For those who are saying that it is family breakdown and community support that allows riotous behaviour, can anyone really believe that south London boroughs cutting 20% from early years’ intervention schemes is going to help? Or that the recent scrapping of two anti social behaviour projects by Southwark Council will help communities devastated by high unemployment?  Cuts have made things worse, and they will get worse still unless we challenge those politicians who are prepared to justify cuts when the finance sector in the City of London is awash with money.

Those of us who remember the riots of the 1980s will also recall that those involved were branded as ‘mere criminals’ just as many of the student protesters demonstrating against the withdrawal of the Educational Maintenance Allowance and tripling of Tuition fees were last winter. The people involved in the events of the past week may or may not have considered their actions ‘political’ but one thing is certain, it is the politicians who need to provide the funding, resources and the employment that is needed, and it’s everyone’s job to campaign against them when they try to cut these things.

Chris Kelly
Secretary, Southwark save Our Services campaign