Campaigners call for a ‘People’s Newham’ as Robin Wales is voted out.

A set of demands we can fully endorse…we’ll be doing our level best to get into Newham when we can to support this campaign:)

Focus E15 Campaign

On Saturday 17 March, Focus E15 campaigners celebrated the news of Robin Wales’ deselection by riding through the streets of  Newham in a open-topped bus. The bus was draped with placards, banners and flags displaying clear political messages about the lack of social housing in the borough. Campaigners sang out the good news that the Mayor had been deselected, chanting in unison ‘Robin Wales has gone -so long so long’ and received many thumbs up and happy waves from Newham residents amazed at the sight of a bus load of campaigners. There were many joyful beeps and hoots from supportive motorists.  Back on board the bus, exhilarating live drumming kept the freezing temperatures at bay as did the constant chanting of ‘Robin Wales is Out’ all set to the sound of popping champagne corks and loud cheering.

This celebratory mood is understandable as the Labour Mayor Robin Wales has been…

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Tragedy

SKIPP press release (23-03-18)

We read with horror in today’s Echo (23rd March) that a man has been found dead in a Southend town centre public toilet. The council, police and press have labelled him as homeless as if he doesn’t matter and is somehow less than human because he had nowhere to shelter apart from a public loo. But he was not just homeless, he was a person, a human being the same as everyone else in our town.

It is to our town’s collective shame that we are seemingly just sitting back and accepting the fact that people in his situation are going to die alone and in squalor in a public bog. This may seem like a harsh statement pointing the figure of blame at the whole town, however, we live in a democracy and it is the people of this town that are responsible for electing and maintaining the current council administration in power. This is the same administration that’s response to the huge homeless situation we face is to spend £75,000 on employing consultants to investigate the situation. Maybe if they were proposing to spend that £75,000 on actually doing something rather than just talking about doing something then it might help to prevent further tragedies.

We are not naive enough to think that a mere £75,000 could solve the homeless problem, however this money could actually be used to help save people’s lives if it was given directly to the homeless shelters, service providers and soup kitchens which are run by people who are actually trying to do something to help, rather than just paying lip service to the problem by “investigating” the situation.

Given the very limited resources that the council are willing to spend to deal with the homeless situation we have to accept that all we can afford is a sticking plaster for the wound rather than a cure for the problem, however, it is no good buying the sticking plaster and then just throwing it in the bin.

Finally please remember, the majority of people living in our town are only a few missed rent or mortgage payments away from being in the same desperate situation as the ever growing number of homeless people in our town.

The SKIPP Committee
Patsy Link
Sheena Walker
Mark Sharp

Wave goodbye to Robin Wales – unpopular Mayor is deselected by Newham Labour!

Good feckin’ riddance to him and his agenda of social cleansing. Focus E15 can rightly chalk this one up as a battle won in the war:)

Focus E15 Campaign

Finally! Robin Wales has been deselected as mayoral candidate for Newham Labour after a tense battle against Rokshana Fiaz, who will now go on to face the electorate in the local elections in May and won by over 350 votes. The news of his deselection was announced on Friday 16 March 2018.  It was Robin Wales, who told the original group of 29 mothers from Focus E15 hostel (after cutting the funding to the mother and baby unit) that “if you can’t afford to live in Newham, then you can’t afford to live in Newham”. Robin Wales has been in charge of Newham council for 23 years as he was head of the Council from 1995 and Labour Mayor since 2002. He has been an unpopular and unreachable figure. He spent decades promoting policies that has led to social cleansing, forcing working class people out of the borough whilst leaving…

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Sara made ‘Intentionally Homeless’ by Newham Council

We’ve written numerous times about how the housing crisis in London has a direct impact on those of us living out along the Thames estuary. A housing crisis exacerbated by an intentional policy of social cleansing as part of the project of making the capital a welcome home for the global super rich to park their money in property ‘investment opportunities’. That’s block after block of empty apartments flipped to make a profit while the number of rough sleepers on the streets of London soars and more and more people are forced out of the capital. However, as you’ll see from this piece we’ve re-blogged, the architects of social cleansing are not getting it all their own way. Focus E15 are a Newham based group of activists who have been tirelessly standing up to the complicity of Newham Council in the project of social cleansing and this is a report of yet more actions they’ve taken to call the council to account.

Focus E15 Campaign

The following blog post is taken directly from a report written for the Revolutionary Communist Group’s website. Thank you for allowing  Focus E15 Campaign to reprint this report in full below.

No such thing as intentional homelessness – Sara must stay in Newham

Robin Wales, head of Newham Labour Council since 1995 and Labour Mayor of Newham since 2002 is facing the end of his reign. Rokhsana Fiaz is standing against him for the Labour mayoral candidacy and the results will be announced on Friday 16 March after local Labour members have voted. This situation came about after a trigger democracy process which has forced Wales to accept a challenger for the first time. All Newham wards voted for someone to stand against him. Wales is running scared and after decades of vicious treatment of working class people in the borough, he now proclaims himself a socialist leading a radical…

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Why I am A Focus E15 Campaigner: celebrating International Women’s Day

Rebecca Morris from Focus E15 Campaign gives a personal reflection on International Women’s Day. On March 8 Focus E15 Campaign will be marking International Women’s Day by joining the International Women’s Strike, and singing with Rebel Choir in Russell Square from 1pm. The Rebel Choir is an activist-community choir. Together we will be singing songs […]

via Why I am A Focus E15 Campaigner: celebrating International Women’s Day — Focus E15 Campaign

No Cliffs Development

SKIPP press release (11-02-18): https://www.facebook.com/Saxonkinginpriorypark/

The philistines in charge at Southend Borough Council appear to be dead set on destroying our historic and beautiful Cliff Gardens with inappropriate and irresponsible development of the ugliest kind.

Whether it is the planned carbuncle of a giant entertainments complex masquerading as a museum or the huge commercial redevelopment of the adjacent Esplanade pub into wholly inappropriate residential properties, these are just the thin end of the wedge. If we as a town allow them to get away with this then the inevitable result will be the slow but unremitting development of the whole cliff face and the permanent loss of this amazing and beautiful resource.

We must stand up to the philistines and say “No to Cliffs Development”.

The SKIPP Committee
Patsy Link
Sheena Walker
Mark Sharp

Report on the Sustainability & Transformation Partnership consultation – 8th February

From the Save Southend NHS Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SaveSouthendNHS/

The Mid & South Essex Sustainability & Transformation Partnership (STP) refused to change to a larger venue or rearrange seating to accommodate more people at the original venue, Maritime Rooms at the Cliffs Pavilions, in spite of tickets to last night’s consultation event ‘selling out’ two weeks ago. Instead they decided to employ a firm of security guards to prevent entry of many non-ticket holders to the event, originally billed as ‘just turn up’.

#SaveSouthendNHS had a presence of thirty or so supporters outside the venue to distribute leaflets illustrating the real effects the STP is likely to have on local NHS services, and talk to attendees as they arrived.

Around 200 people were admitted to the 300 capacity venue to hear the standard spiel touted by the STP and its advocates. Their basic line is that with an ageing population and more demand on the NHS, they can’t adequately staff the three hospitals of Southend, Basildon and Broomfield.

According to the STP, changes to the way primary care (GPs etc.) is delivered will make our population much healthier, resulting in an amazing reduction in the need for service, including up to a 45% decrease in the number of hospital outpatients.

They will create ‘specialist centres’ at different hospitals to deal with the likes of complex orthopaedic (broken bones), lung, vascular, heart, urology, abdominal surgery, etc. At the moment all of these can be done at each of the three hospitals, ‘specialist centres’ will be created by removing these capabilities from two of the hospitals, making the remaining one the only one able to carry out the procedures and therefore, by default, a ‘specialist centre’.

The STP then propose to transport seriously ill patients in need of these treatments, significant distances across Essex’s highly congested roads to reach the care they need. How are they going to transport these patients? Well, that’s not entirely clear. The STP have a vague idea about a new fleet of dedicated ambulances in which the patients will be accompanied by specialist nurses, doctors or consultants, depending on the level of care they need. Figures on how many patients this will affect seem unclear with estimates ranging from between 15 – 25 every day – that’s a lot of journeys, especially when you consider the medical staff also need to return to their bases.

With an ambulance service already failing to fill its many vacancies and respond to even life threatening calls within an acceptable timeframe, it begs the question; where are these paramedics coming from, to say nothing of the extra medical staff needed to attend these patients in transit? As with most of the STP’s answer, they’re a combination of hazy outlines mixed with optimistic assumptions. When the STP panel were asked where the East of England Ambulance Service representative was, there were some awkward and embarrassed mumbles before saying: “we’ll look into it.” There are mass Doctor and nurse vacancies already so we are unsure where they will get these specialist transfer clinicians from in an already overstretched workforce.

Additionally the STP are saying that transport will be provided for outpatients and visitors having to travel further afield, possibly in the form of an interlinking bus service. Plans are again currently at the ‘back of a cigarette packet’ stage.

The jewel in the STP’s crown is the Hyper Acute Stroke Unit (HASU) planed for Basildon. The idea here is for each of the three hospitals to have 24/7 MRI facilities along with specialist trained doctors and nurses. Once patients have been assessed at their local hospital, those in need will be transferred the HASU. This plan has been developed in conjunction with local consultants and, if fully funded and implemented properly, will be a major step forward for improved patient care and outcomes. By ‘implemented properly’ we heard from Dr.Guyler that the gold standard for early stroke intervention at each site is a 24/7 MRI scanning service plus a 24/7 specialist stroke Dr and nurse to diagnose and commence treatment prior to onward transfer to the HASU. A regional Thrombectomy service is also required according to Dr.Guyler. We heard last night that it will be down to specialist commissioners to fund this after the proposals have been accepted, which seemed to cast some doubt over whether this was a guaranteed move. The STP WOULD NOT commit to this gold standard despite heavy public pressure being applied – see our video!

They STP team claimed the lives will give current staff great opportunities and will attract new recruits yet there has been no formal staff survey conducted – yet again utter spin.

The atmosphere at last night’s event was certainly tense. The public aren’t buying the spin put out by the STP. At the root of their plans is a need to cut in excess of £500 million from the projected spending on the NHS in our area by 2021. Tempers flared as audience members failed to get straight answers from the STP panel that included Dr Celia Skinner – Chief Medical Officer for the three hospitals, Dr Ronan Fenton – Joint Medical Director of the STP and Tom Abell – Deputy CEO & Chief Transformation Officer of the three hospital trusts. There is no way that in the two hours allotted to last night’s event could the STP come anywhere close to answering all the questions people wanted to put. This is one of 18 events planned during the public consultation across mid and south Essex with an extra event now scheduled in Southend at the same venue on the 7th March – two days before the consultation ends.

If the STP really are listening to the people of Essex, they will go away, completely rethink their vague, delusory plans and come back with something that is actually based on clinical evidence and is fit to deliver top quality health care, locally, that patients deserve. Their proposals aren’t currently even fit for consultation! How can the public respond to consultation plans which have no substance and the linchpin of service centralisation is on a transfer service that they have provided absolutely no data about.

Canvey Island Sea Wall Erosion, should be the Real Focus of CPBC’s Attention. Residents again being kept in the Dark?

As we’ve stated before, we’re not NIMBYs and we have no problem with truly affordable homes being built – in a sustainable way – where they’re needed along with the infrastructure to support the expanded population. However, sometimes there are circumstances where there are sound, rational reasons why new housing shouldn’t be built in certain locations. Canvey Island, which is below sea level at high tide, is one of those locations, particularly when the inadequate transport infrastructure and the presence of petro-chemical facilities on the island is taken into account. None of this seems to be understood by Castle Point Council who in a bid to keep the mainland part of the borough as green and leafy as possible, are willing to overload a flood prone island with even more housing! Maybe, just maybe, the findings of a ground investigation might start to make the council reconsider their position…

Canvey Green Belt Campaign

The condition of the Canvey Sea Wall, or Sea Defence system, is causing serious concern, despite the lack of news or information.

The cause, which should not be too surprising, is currently under investigation.

Further inland on Canvey a large Green Belt site, identified as being deliverable and developable by Castle Point borough council, was the subject of a pre-development Ground Investigation Report, probably the first, and most thorough investigations of its type on Canvey Island, to be made public via the cpbc planning portal.

The Ground Investigation Report indicated what should be serious concerns to the cpbc development committee and planning officers, should they refer to it and give it the respect it warrants.

We suspect, however, committee members are unaware of its existence!

Despite this site being a full Kilometre from the Estuary, the effects of tidal water which surrounds Canvey Island have been found!

The Ground Investigation…

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We’re bringing out another paper!

While The Stirrer does what it says on the tin – stirs and causes trouble – our sister project, The Estuary Alternative, is about promoting positive alternatives. In other words, starting to build a new world in the decaying shell of the increasingly dystopian one we currently have to endure. We’re bringing out another print edition of The Estuary Alternative in a bid to give this project a boost. So, if you’re involved in a progressive, community based grassroots project anywhere in the south of Essex, we’d love it if you could write a piece about what you’re doing and send it to us:)

‘Power hour’ or Workers’ power?! – Reports from two Amazon workers, Hemel Hempstead, Winter 2017/18

Given what we’ve already written about the Amazon facility at Tilbury: Are Amazon digging a hole for themselves at Tilbury? – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/12/01/are-amazon-digging-a-hole-for-themselves-at-tilbury/ and: Dark, Satanic warehouses… – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/11/27/dark-satanic-warehouses/ – we feel these reports from workers at Amazon’s facility in Hemel Hempstead offer some interesting insights into the operation, the dynamic among the workforce and the potential to take on Amazon in a fight for better conditions…

Angry Workers of the World

Inside Amazon

With our series of Amazon workers’ reports [1] we hope to not provide yet another sad victim story of how Amazon turns humans into semi-robots. We leave this to the mainstream media. We want to dismantle the myth of Amazon being the all-powerful and well-organised global giant. We want to support the small but important efforts to turn Amazon’s international structure into the basis for a global exchange and coordination of workers:

https://amworkers.wordpress.com/

We want to use the reports to address workers around us. We have to do this face-to-face and for this aim we have written and distributed leaflets at Amazon Hemel Hempstead this winter. We spoke to workers at the company bus stops in west London in the morning and with Amazon workers at the warehouse:

https://angryworkersworld.wordpress.com/2017/12/20/leaflet-for-amazon-workers-december-2017/

Two of our friends wrote reports after working at the Hemel Hempstead FC. Feel free to circulate them and to get…

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