A suggestion:)

Below are a couple of memes we’ve created in the hope of encouraging some resistance to the wave of social cleansing in the name of ‘regeneration’ across London. Click the link below the image for an A4 PDF of each one. Please feel free to use, share and ideally, implement:)

Broadwater Farm version

Carpenters Estate version


‘Regeneration’ threatens the future of martial arts club

We noticed this story in the Thurrock Gazette with some alarm: 1,000 sign to save martial arts. The Martial Academy based in the old fire station in Civic Square in Tilbury specialises in teaching martial arts and fitness classes and also ensures that disabled and vulnerable people of all ages and abilities have the opportunity to take part in a range of health, wellbeing, and sporting activities. It’s the kind of volunteer run charity that plays a vital role in ensuring community well being and is effectively plugging the gap left by years of austerity that have left social services from local authorities in tatters.

Yet despite all of this, Thurrock Council in their arrogance have informed the Martial Academy that they intend to demolish the current venue but as yet, have made no steps to offer them alternative accommodation. You would have thought that a charity providing a vital service to a local community would receive considerably more in the way of support and encouragement from the council – sadly, that does not appear to be the case.

The good news is that the people of Tilbury are not taking this lying down and are ding what they can to persuade Thurrock Council to ensure that the Martial Academy has a future. A petition that has already gathered over 1000 signatures has been launched – it can be signed here.

Resident direct action getting the job done on Vange Hill

Yet again, local residents facilitated by the Vange Hill Community Group are getting the job done where the authorities have failed. In this case, it was one of those corner plots on the Vange Hill estate in Basildon that was getting the attention. Corner plots designed into the estate with the best of intentions back in the day when there were the resources to maintain them. Corner plots that for years, have been neglected through a combination of the impact of austerity and the incompetence of the authorities. Corner plots where the shrubs have been allowed to grow out and obstruct the path while acquiring a layer of litter (and more dubious items) that never gets cleared because it’s impossible to reach.

Well, that all changed yesterday (Tuesday 19th June) when residents at the foot of Dewsgreen got to work cutting back and trimming shrubs and trees, and clearing a pretty disgusting smelling accumulation of rubbish from underneath them. This is just a start – more work is scheduled to enhance this plot and make it attractive to look at. Something that will boost morale on an estate that has more than its fair share of issues to deal with. What was also pointed out by the volunteers from the Vange Hill Community Group was the role these work parties pay in getting people out of their homes, talking to each other while working together to make their estate a better place to live.

Local authorities wanting to control the narrative

We’ve merged and enhanced a couple of previous posts to come up with this initial analysis of how councils want to control the narrative when dealing with journalists just trying to do their job or residents putting on the pressure to get the services they deserve – the conclusion is that the system of local governance we have is not fit for purpose…

In an ideal world our local councils, officers and councillors alike, would see themselves as the servants of all the residents in the areas they cover. An integral part of that ethos would be a culture of transparency, accountability and a willingness to own up to and learn from mistakes. Well, we can all dream can’t we? As most of you are doubtless aware, the truth is a long way from this ideal. Here are just a couple of examples that illustrate how local councils operate on the basis of wanting to control the narrative. One concerns Thurrock Council’s media strategy that stymies local journalists wanting to ask them difficult questions, the other the refusal of Basildon Council to deal with independent resident groups.

In a recent blog post on Your Thurrock, the leader of the Thurrock Independents, Cllr. Luke Spillman, has taken Thurrock Council to task over the chilling…

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On this day in 1984

From the Working Class History Facebook page

On this day, 18 June 1984, the battle of Orgreave took place when striking miners faced off against thousands of police as they attempted to blockade the Orgreave coking plant. The police showed the lengths they would go to to break the strike, with violent attacks, mass arrests and deliberate but fortunately unsuccessful attempts to fabricate evidence and frame miners. And the BBC reversed footage of miners defending themselves from police attacks to try to pretend police were attacked first. This is a pamphlet about media lies about the miners, written by a striking anarchist miner. If you want to support our work researching and promoting people’s history, please back us on Patreon.

Don’t ask Thurrock Council difficult questions!

In a blog post on Your Thurrock, the leader of the Thurrock Independents, Cllr. Luke Spillman, has taken Thurrock Council to task over the chilling impact of their media strategy: Blogpost: Thurrock Independents leader calls for council to “rethink press strategy”. Thurrock Council released this ‘media strategy’ document in the summer of 2017 – it pretty much demands a right of reply to any media coverage it thinks will be damaging to its reputation.

Reading between the lines, it’s as though the council just want the local media outlets to reproduce, word for word, the anodyne contents of their press releases. Given the parlous state of local journalism and the chronic under-staffing that characterises it, that’s pretty much what many local media outlets are reduced to doing anyway. What the council’s media strategy does is to reinforce that trend by discouraging the few journalists left who do ask difficult questions from doing so for fear of being all but ‘blacklisted’. In other words, the council want to control the narrative.

This defensive and aggressive posture from Thurrock Council towards journalists who rightly persist in asking them difficult questions has a number of parallels with the experience of residents who’ve had less than satisfactory dealings with them. We’ve written this before in relation to other local authorities in the area but it looks as though we’re doomed to repeat it until the message starts to sink in. We may be naïvely idealistic but the role of a local council, officers and councillors alike, is to serve all of the residents in the area they cover. If a council are to be the servants of the people, nothing less than complete and open transparency and accountability is required. That also means being open to criticism from the local media and responding to that in a constructive manner by learning lessons and improving performance.

Alas, we live in a world that’s far from ideal. All this crap from Thurrock Council about their ‘media strategy’ does is reinforce the view we hold that the system of local and national governance we endure is not fit for purpose because it doesn’t serve our interests. While we welcome the pressure the Thurrock Independents have brought upon the council to agree to editors from the local media being able to speak at the upcoming Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 4th September, with the best will in the world, this may be akin to trying to put a small sticking plaster over a gaping wound. If we are ever going to have a more just, open and accountable way of running our affairs at a local level, fundamental political, economic and social change will be the only way to achieve this.