Owen Jones

Owen-Jones

We all love Owen Jones, right?

Here’s an example of why.

‘Tax avoidance is robbery, regardless of what any silver-tongued outrider of the corporate world tells you. Companies depend on the labour of their wealth-creating workers: a workforce expensively trained up by a state education system, kept healthy by state healthcare, and whose low pay is subsidised by the state.

The private sector depends on a bailed-out financial system, state-funded infrastructure, state support for research and development, and a law and order system to protect them and their property.

Companies that depend on state largesse and yet refuse to contribute are, well, scroungers. They deprive the state of revenue as politicians justify the biggest cuts for generations on the basis that there isn’t enough money. They gain a competitive disadvantage over mainly smaller businesses who cannot afford armies of accountants to exploit loopholes. They ensure the rest of us pay more taxes. As I say: robbery.’

Wow.  Thats telling it like it is.

But like all love affairs, it can give joy and pain in sometimes equal measure.  Here he is getting things wrong.

‘Frustrated [Green] party members often berate me for backing policies on social justice, tax justice, public ownership and workers’ rights that they loudly champion, all the while trying to lobby a Labour leadership that hardly seems receptive.

The reasons for this division on the left are straightforward: many of those who resist the Greens’ flirtations have a commitment to the labour movement, to working people collectively organising for change, and an understanding that – as things stand – a general election represents a choice between a Labour-led and Conservative-led government.’

Why is this so wrong?

1.  To suggest that only Labour supporters have a commitment to the Labour movement suggests Owen doesn’t understand either how broad the labour movement is, or the Green Party commitment to supporting it.

2.  It is absurd again to suggest that only Labour support working people working collectively for change.  How many Labour Party MPs will be on the picket lines with our NHS staff tomorrow?  I tell you now, there will be plenty Greens.

3.  This is the biggy.

After the Rochester bye election, William Hague was saying precisely the same thing.  ‘Come the general election, the electorate will have to decide who is going to be Prime Minister, David Cameron or Ed Miliband.’  It is this arrogant reduction of the arguments in politics which have left voters infuriated.  The old parties have been found out.  It is a choice increasing numbers are saying they will not make.  It makes no difference, they believe, to their lives.

We think that too.  If you want real change it is not honest to say a vote for Labour will achieve it, and voters know that now.  The right wing of Labour are delighted to have Owen Jones, and others, making out that Labour is a proper place for radical votes.  It wasn’t under Blair and Brown, and it certainly isn’t under Miliband.

Its no good Owen Jones and William Hague beating the same drum.  Voters are moving to a different rhythm.  Owen should get with the beat.

Advertisements

Burdett Estate

A big thank you to the Burdett Independent Community Welfare Organisation for organising a successful public show of opposition to proposals which will severely damage their community.  I was glad to lend THGP support to their campaign and below I publish my submission to the Council opposing this overdevelopment of an estate.

IMG_0416 IMG_0410

84 Antill Road

London

E3 5BP

Planning Department

Directorate of Development and Renewal

London Borough of Tower Hamlets

Anchorage House

5 Clove Crescent

PO Box 55739

London

E14 1BY

Dear Madam/Sir

Re: Application PA/14/02618

I am writing to OPPOSE the above application planned for the Burdett Estate.

I am the Chair of Tower Hamlets Green Party. I have been contacted by members of the Burdett Independent Community Welfare Organisation (BICWO) and I have visited the proposed site and discussed the application with a number of residents, including a number from local community organisations and the local Mosque. I have found unanimous opposition to the plans as proposed.

Moreover there is a very strong feeling that any consultation process has been wholly inadequate. To that end you may well already be aware that BICWO carried out their own consultation with local residents, and I have seen a copy of their report.

The overwhelming feeling is that the views of local residents have not been taken into account and the planning process is taking place without their concerns being taken into account. They feel so strongly that they are continuing to consult residents and arrange for a growing and impressive campaign to be put in place.

It is not the case that they are opposed to regeneration, nor do they fail to appreciate the need for new schools.

However this plan will lead to the over development of the area.

You will be aware that it will create a school right across the road from the existing Stebon Primary School, itself currently the subject of substantial enlargement at the expense of open space and football and recreation areas.

The estate is predominantly flats making outside space essential for recreation, sporting facilities, and social interactions. It is a close knit community and the new school does not fit easily into that environment.

The new housing does not meet the identified needs of the local community.

But overwhelmingly the feeling is that this is just a development of this estate too far depriving the residents of space, light and recreation facilities. There is extremely strong opposition, and this opposition is not reflected in the way this application has reached the current stage.

I ask that the plan is NOT dealt with yet, but that proper and meaningful consultation is carried out with the residents. It would be an extremely unhappy situation to impose a school and residences in the teeth of such strong local opposition. This would not be in the interests of either the existing community or those seeking to join it.

Proper and meaningful consultation must be an integral part of such a dramatic imposition to a community and it seems perfectly clear that no such thing has occurred in this case.

I trust my views will be taken into account when this application is being processed.

Yours faithfully

Alistair Polson

No Silvertown Tunnel

TFL plan to build a PFI tunnel from Silvertown on the north of the Thames to Greenwich in the south costing £750m.  There is growing opposition on both sides of the river and the Greens are at the forefront.  The plan is to toll not just the new tunnel but Blackwall as well!

IMG_0400

We all know that the Blackwall Tunnel is a pinch point for traffic.  But this is not the answer to the problems.  And here’s why.

At the moment some people are prepared to wait long times to use the existing crossings.  New crossings will increase the numbers of people who think that crossing by car is a good idea.  All experiences have demonstrated that if you increase the capacity, you vastly increase the use.  It cultivates road use.  In the end therefore it fails to tackle congestion.  The delays are the same.

The damage is two fold.  First, the pollution from the vastly increased use of cars.  Our air quality in East London is already an international disgrace and a silent killer.  Increasing traffic will severely increase this problem.

Second, where is all this traffic to go once it had gone through the tunnels?  The answer is down your street.  The roads of Tower Hamlets already struggle to cope with the existing amount of traffic.  There is no room for more.

The only solution is proper, increased capacity and new provision of public transport.  East London and South East London are the worst served areas for public transport.  It is essential this is addressed.  We need the new DLR crossing, we need the Bakerloo line extension.

These are the real solutions to these problems.  Have we really not learned the lessons of the M25??

We will fighting alongside the communities who are opposing this mad project.  Because these communities are our communities.

There is a consultation open at the moment.  Visit the No to Silvertown Tunnel website to find out how to make your voice heard.  www.silvertowntunnel.co.uk.

Brighton

Yesterday a group from Tower Hamlets visited Brighton to help the Re elect Caroline Lucas campaign.

We had a great day, and we received a warm welcome from the Brighton Green Party (and a very nice lunch too).

IMG_0392

Just a few thoughts about what the experience meant for me.

First and foremost it was remarkable to be in a city where multi party politics is a fact of life.  It felt like a glimpse into the near future.  It was proper politics too.  Not everyone in Brighton regards Caroline as a hero, nor the minority Green Council as an unmitigated success.  There are lots of debates, ranging from war, the NHS, dustbins and recycling (HUGE local issue), UKIP, Ed Miliband etc etc.

But what is plain is that for many people fed up with the old parties, they see the Greens as a dynamic honest party.  Love them or loath them, they are really working to carry out their promises.

Caroline Lucas, of course, is the main personality and again it was plain that amongst everyone, whether they are Greens or not, or if they voted for her not, she had huge respect for the energy and commitment she has shown in representing her constituency, while being a lone voice for the Greens in the House of Commons.

IMG_0393

It was inspiring to see so many people genuinely thrilled to see her, keen to engage with her in discussions about their concerns, and with a clear view that if she could help, she would.

Its the kind of politics this country is crying out for.  Its the antidote to cynicism and the arrogance of politicians who take their positions in power for granted.  Greens could never do that.  We fight for what we believe.  Agree or disagree, we could never stop doing that.  There is too much at stake to do anything else.

IMG_0395

Bishopsgate Goodsyard

Here is my objection to the Bishopsgate Goodsyard Development.

I hope you will object too!

I am writing to OBJECT to the plan for Bishopsgate Goodsyard development.

I am a resident of Tower Hamlets. I am the Chair of Tower Hamlets Green Party and I am the PPC for Bethnal Green and Bow. This application is partly in that constituency.

goods yard

Background

The application is based on a false premise. It represents an encroachment into a vibrant commercial, social and residential area of buildings only suitable for the highly unusual and site specific developments characterized by the City of London and Canary Wharf.

It is an attempt to extend the exceptional permissions given to buildings in these areas into adjoining areas where such developments are entirely unsuitable, out of character and which will diminish the amenity not only of the area itself but the surroundings.

The development of buildings on the East Side of Broadgate, encroaching into Spitalfields Market, are now seen as a grave error. They destroyed that unique area. The Royal Bank of Scotland block is totally out of scale to the surrounding areas and the Market itself has been transformed into another generic location of chain food restaurants and bars. It is a shadow of its former self.

This is to be contrasted with the activity just across Commercial Street which maintains a vibrant mix of historic buildings alongside commercial spaces. These offer opportunities for local, small businesses to establish themselves, while also housing a strong diverse local community. There are of course tensions between the day time and night time economies, and the between the new and old residents. But that tension has been creatively and dynamically managed to the benefit of all.

Precisely the same situation exists around the Bishopsgate Goodsyard area. The success of the temporary Boxpark development is testimony to the fact that there is a ready market for small businesses, and a ready supply of small businesses to take advantage of any such opportunities made available.

This is a reflection of the whole character of the area. Exemplified by Brick Lane Market, it developed into one of London’s most dynamic and fashionable areas which has provided countless opportunities for this community to develop and grow. It has provided the spaces needed for small businesses to start up, some of which have flourished and moved on, some of which have not.

It is an irony that this area is used as a centre of entertainment and socializing by so many who work in the City. It is one of the City’s great attractions that the corporate sites sit adjacent to and within easy reach of London West End and London’s East End, as exemplified by the bars, restaurants, cinemas and shops of Shoreditch.

The example of Spitalfields demonstrates that development on this scale will extinguish all of that in the immediate area and change the character of it forever.

The development of areas where creativity, experimentation and dynamism flourish is rare, and takes years to develop. It has taken twenty years or more for Shoreditch and Brick Lane to develop into the areas they are. It has been hard won, and is now something which brings economic and social success to the local community. This development promises to severely damage all of that success in a way which cannot be overturned.

The application contains the following

‘It (the proposed development) will be a new place with its own distinct scale, identity and character; it will not attempt to become a seamless part of the existing neighbourhood’

This admission demonstrates why this proposal is so wrong. It might be acceptable if the area did not already exhibit such characteristics. But one thing this area already has is scale, identity and character. This proposal will destroy much of that by its vast scale and undesired character.

Specific Objections

Scale

bishopsgate goods yard

The proposals incorporate buildings with 48, 46, 30 and 34 storeys.

This is a wholly new style of development for this area. If granted, how could any future applications for such developments be opposed?

The buildings in the immediate area comprise residential level and low commercial level. They will be dwarfed by buildings only suitable for the exceptional areas of the City and Canary Wharf.

Many of the streets in the immediate vicinity are conservation areas, and it makes a mockery of such conservation if there are massive blocks looming over them.

It must be the case that the shadow cast by such vast constructions will blight many areas, presumably with those buildings to the north along Bethnal Green Road and into Arnold Circus being the worst affected.

Such constructions are entirely out of character to the area.

Design

The images I have seen show generic design with no architectural or artistic merit whatsoever.

They do not in any way reflect anything yet constructed in that area. They are wholly out of character with the area.

Demolition

I understand that a considerable amount of 19th century brick construction is to be swept away by the building works. Everything that has happened in the last 30 years tells us that where historic construction is preserved, either by integration or addition, it adds hugely to the sense of value placed on new construction.

This is an historic site, where the railway used to terminate before the construction of Liverpool Street Station. To sweep that away entirely would be a travesty. Where such sites have disappeared this has been considered a huge error in retrospect.

New developers should be proud to pay respect to the history of the sites they are working on rather than just tramping all over them as this development seeks to do.

Conclusion

I believe this proposal would severely damage the economic, social and residential success of this area.

The site offers developers a unique opportunity to build on an historic site which is the centre of a rejuvenated, vibrant social, residential and commercial hub. It seems to hark back to the excesses of the 1960s brutality instead of the 21st century approach of sensitivity and cooperation which have made this area such a success.

It should be rejected.

Alistair Polson

alistairpolson@icloud.com

84 Antill Road

London

E3 5BP

07973 636952