Letters - FRFI 263 April/May 2018

Non-stop against apartheid

I was rather shocked to read in FRFI 262 that the book on the Non-Stop Picket is going to be sold at £105! This is rather strange in view of your political position and for all who believe in socialism. Is this book only going to be sold to those who are rich enough? I also expect the authors will get their cut!

I realise that in the article on the subject only members of the RCG and the Kitson family are mentioned. Others are totally ignored. I wish to remind you that I was in charge of the occupation of the Guardian offices, asked to do it by Norma [Kitson]. Do not forget that I was at the picket for the whole period of ten years and was arrested 16 times!


North London

Reply from FRFI

We are also shocked by the £105 price of Youth Activism and Solidarity, the Non-Stop Picket Against Apartheid, published by Routledge Spaces of Childhood and Youth Series. As the review says, this is a shame and we hope that readers will put pressure on the publishers to produce a paperback and on libraries to order it. Evidently it is not a commercial but an academic publication and the authors are unlikely to receive much, if anything, from a small circulation. Their purpose was to produce a study of the historical context and remarkable events of the Non-Stop Picket through interviews with over 90 of the participants. For this we should be grateful.

For FRFI and the RCG however, the book has a particular importance because it records, for a new generation of our readers, how an important and successful campaign was built. This is of special significance to us at a time when it is so vital to develop sustained political action against the cruelties of austerity and the racism of the British state.

Neither the review nor the book claims any undue recognition for the named RCG members and full tribute is accorded to all of those hundreds of people who organised to make the protests possible. This includes those who carried out anti-apartheid actions after the end of the Non-Stop Picket such as the occupiers of The Guardian newspaper lobby in support of the striking agricultural workers of Zebediela.

Susan Davidson

Foster carers fight for rights

Foster carers have organised a union within the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain. They look after some of the most vulnerable children in society. They have no workers’ rights and are kept completely out of the loop on decisions that affect them. These workers are treated with nothing but contempt by the councils they work for, who cut corners wherever they can with little regard for the children and workers affected. Now that they are unionised they have begun to fight for the rights that they are owed and they are winning. They have already won a landmark ruling on recognising the rights of foster carers as workers and are planning to use this as the precedent to fight for foster carers to be fully recognised as workers. They have found a voice in unity.



Victory in fight against academisation

I have worked at Brampton Primary school for more than ten years and l am also a member of the Focus E15 Campaign. Our school is a four-form entry school in East Ham in Newham, east London.

In September 2017 during a staff meeting it was mentioned very briefly that we could be joining a Multi-Academy Trust by Easter 2018. We didn’t hear any more until January this year, when we were notified that there would be a consultation meeting in February and a decision would be made in March.

The proposal was to become part of Brampton Academy Trust, our local secondary school. The trust had already joined with Langdon Secondary and Primary schools and there would also be room for a further two primary schools to join along with us. The Academy, we were told, does not acknowledge any unions and this was confirmed by a GMB representative who said she was not even allowed through the gate of the school to represent a member of staff.

We had our meeting a couple of days before half-term and the parents’ meeting was after we came back. Parents were notified of their meeting about five weeks previous, so by then not many of them turned up, possibly having forgotten about it. No school text had been sent out as a reminder as would usually happen. In my opinion I think this was all done deliberately.

There are many schools in Newham fighting against academy status, such as Cumberland, St Luke’s, Keir Hardie and Avenue Primary. We attended the demonstration Avenue organised at Newham Town Hall on 26 February, which inspired us to call in our unions and make a plan of action. We called another meeting and insisted the parents were given more information. We then presented the governors with an anti-academisation letter on the day of their decision and I am very pleased to say the governors have now decided not to go ahead with the academy proposal.

This is a massive victory for our school and we send our solidarity out to all with the same fight.

Janice Graham

East London

Save T. Chances

In recent months the T. Chances community centre on Tottenham High Road in north London has become a site of advanced struggle. It is known to many as a venue for anti-fascist punk rock. But a local campaign to hold the landlords accountable for racial discrimination and fraud has revealed collusion between white nationalists and real estate capitalists.

T. Chances sits across from where the riots began in 2011. Local people purchased it in 1920 and entrusted it to the Tottenham War Services Institute, a charitable trust that still owns it. Its lower floors were a Royal British Legion club for a number of decades until 2008. From 1998 to 2012, its top floors housed a CID annexe of the nearby police station. Over the last decade, collective labour by many hands and groups has transformed this symbol of the Crown into a community centre providing arts-based services to vulnerable locals.

As the real estate profiteers marked out Haringey as the next zone of ‘redevelopment’, T. Chances looked like easy pickings. In 2012, Avi Dodi, a developer notorious for profiting from the sell-off of council housing, began to lend money to the charity. Then his business partner Angelique Glata became a trustee. After a failed planning application in 2015, Dodi registered his interest in the property in 2016 with a Land Registry charge worth half the building’s supposed value. In 2017, evictions of community users began. Almost all those excluded have been black.

Racist evictions require racists to carry them out. Enter Mark Creathorne (aka Mark Windows), who became a trustee in April 2017. Host of Windows on the World, an online talk-show where a recent guest extolled that ‘we’ve gotta normalise anti-Semitism’, Creathorne is the perfect partner for a developer who normalises theft. In July 2017 he signed a draft estate contract that would sell T. Chances to Avi Dodi for £2.2m. Vigilant local residents took measures which upset this plan.

Glata has since resigned as a trustee, but not before a county court refused to grant her an Interim Possession Order on the property in February. Meanwhile, the Charity Commission has confirmed it is investigating the charity, and Haringey Council is pursuing them for £70,000 in unpaid business rates going back to 2012.

As the saga continues, Tottenham’s residents must organise to defend this invaluable asset from racists, capitalist parasites, and right-wing Labour councillors alike.



RBKC’s mistreatment of elderly

My mother Brigid Walshe was a council tenant in Danvers Street, Chelsea. She is 88 years old and has Alzheimer’s and other medical conditions.

In December 2014 after multiple hospital admissions she was placed in St Mary’s Care Home, Tooting in south London on what was supposed to be a temporary placement, but a placement in Miranda House W11 did not come up until November 2015 and at that time she had taken a turn for the worse. In December 2016 the doctor said that it would not be safe for her to move from a care home placement.

We did not mind the care home being out of the area to begin with, as we thought a move would be imminent, but when it became a permanent placement it was no longer suitable as her needs had increased and she needs and wants to see me more often. She also has many friends who are very fond of her from her local area in Kensington and Chelsea but they are also elderly and cannot make the long journey.

When I visit my mother she asks me over and over again if she can move closer to me.

I have asked the council numerous times to move my mother either nearer to me or back to the RBKC where her friends will be able to visit her and I can take her out to places she will recognise and give her some happiness. The council won’t budge as it is cheaper for them to keep her in Tooting.

The second Ombudsman case has just ended in the council’s favour. Her needs assessment says the care home ‘continues to meet her needs’ and that my mother ‘has never asked to leave’. This was written up by a social worker who has spoken to her for less than a minute. I have numerous films of her asking to be moved closer to me. I have power of attorney and am speaking on behalf of my mother. Do they treat all the elderly in the borough in this way?


West London

Although the population of RBKC is ageing, more than £3m of cuts are planned for Adult Social Care in the council’s 2018-19 budget. All planned developments for elderly care homes in the area are in the private sector, making them unaffordable to many ordinary residents. With the closure of council-run Thamesbrook in 2015, this means that all residential care in the borough is privatised. Is this the reality of RBKC’s long-term vision of providing ‘better for less’ in Adult Social Care?

Prevent in the NHS

In April 2015, the Prevent statutory duty under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 gave the health sector a statutory responsibility to demonstrate ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism’. Britain is the only country in the world where this kind of surveillance is expected of a health care system. On 19 March, The Guardian reported that a survey of four NHS mental health trusts had revealed staff reporting patients to the Prevent programme for such ‘signs of radicalisation’ as going on pilgrimage to Mecca or allowing their children to watch Arabic TV channels. 70% of staff surveyed said they would raise a Prevent query on the basis of someone owning anarchist or Islamic philosophy books. This is not ‘counter-terrorism’ but the racist, intrusive stigmatisation of mental health patients.

Tina Crewe

South London

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 263 April/May 2018


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