I oppose Brent Cross expansion

... though local candidate Adele Ward for Finchley & Golders Green is positive about the living bridge architecture.

Here is what I have to say in a forthcoming press article
"The high-rise, luxury blocks of flats in the latest plan provide none of the genuinely affordable, secure, and zero-carbon homes for people."

Judy Klitsner - a great thinker and teacher - visiting from Israel

I went to a talk last night by Judy Klitsner of great practical and sociological importance.  She does not normally talk about herself but outlined some of the revolutionary leaps in women's rights in the Jewish world (re-defining the word halachah).  I noted some great quotes, and my uncle Benedict photocopied an article which was distributed at a previous partnership minyan.  I have a feeling my mom - a great Jewish educator and feminist - may have met up with her to discuss some of the sources she brought today.

The UK Government passed the Equality Act over 5 years ago.  I seriously doubt whether some of the sexist practices described, which survive from the 20th century, are in line with 21st century law.  Things do not have to be this way.  Let's build the system differently.

She described 3 things:
Exclusion of women from Jewish ritual - because women are spiritually superior (she knew they weren't)
Oppression of women through snius (Jewish equivalent of hijab) rules - because men are animals (so why shut-up women?)
Women accessing Torah.  Can women be rabbis?

Brent Cross Expansion not what we need

As some green leaders published a petition for a London National Park, here's a letter I got printed in the local Times on July 11, 2013
I was disheartened to read they still want to expand Brent Cross shopping centre, but not pay for some of the good elements of the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration.
We don't need another vanity project.  What we need in the Brent Cross community is small businesses, we need places to meet without buying junk food or clothes. We don't need more personal debt, but places of worship especially for Muslims who have only one mosque compared to dozens of shuls and/or churches.
We need a better-funded college and high-quality state school system and activities for young people such as a football club, canoeing on the Welsh Harp and an affordable rail link to the beach.
We need industrial provident societies and co-ops, not uncaring slum landlords and mortgages.
We need green jobs to reverse the build-up of litter and discarded furniture.
Ben Samuel
Barnet Green Party

John Cox of Chelsea Close, Willesden, writes
Please take part in consultation
So here we are, five years on and it's an other "Brent Cross Cricklewood consultation"
There are the same people involved, but a few things have changed.
The evelopers are chastened by the credit crunch (the Brent Cross owners nearly collapsed in 2009), but seem determined to build an out-of-town car-based shopping centre, double the size.
The new public streets north of the North Circular Road have gone and privately-owned sweeping arcades have replaced them.  They look fine, but I want to see some publicly-owned land there, part of a safe, livable, yet imperfect town centre, not sterile privatised paths, even if some have "24-hour access".
The developers have added a "leisure" and restaurants to the mix of extra shops,  which are two o f the few growth areas in the current long recession.
The new pedestrian street over the North Circular is a big improvement theough the developers are ignoring how noisy it is there.  Acousitc Screetning can never be effective at least without boxing the street entirely.
I question the plan fo housing and a south school of the North Circular because the developers are sellin gup there.  The yave found no companyu to build them as yet and it is rediculous to start calling the area part of Phase One when it isn't.
There are still no corridors for future light-rail lines (DLR or trams). According to the Mayor of London there witll be ten million people in London by 2030, from seven million in 2000.  We will need a light rail to aviod grinding to a halt.  (A London Underground line under the £4.5 million Brent Cross site could cost maybe ten times as much.)
Any later Brent Cross Thameslink station will apparently be paid for on credit, garanteed by Barnet Borough Council.  THat is risky and I think it means Cricklewood Station would close, which is not exactly a popular move.
Please visit the  consultation and mention safe-guarding of land for light-rail, if you want to support that.  The public can apply pressure to Transport for London because Barnet's transport strategy unit is alarmingly ineffective.
There is a consultation card to fill ou, with three loaded questions "Motherhood?" "Apple pie?" and Would you like cream on that? Everyone will answer yes and the developers will claim everon backs their new scheme.  We need to treat the public better than that but perhaps we are making progress.
John Cox


Someone called Yasmin said on TV the other day she has no choice because the Green Party are the only parliamentary party that aren't anti-immigration.

My MP has still not replied to this letter sent last week, I mean last fortnight... other than auto-reply of course.  If you agree with me please send your MP a letter using writetothem.com , especially if you're in Hendon.
9th November
Dear Matthew Offord,

I am pro migration and always have been.  For me anti-immigration
rhetoric means the same as anti-immigrant rhetoric, and I do not like
the way local people end up blaming and hating each other, so I would
invite you as a candidate for Hendon MP to sign up to a clean campaign
pledge.  The reality is that we are part of the European Union which
gives us a two way street and the right to live as a citizen in any
country in the region (apart from Switzerland, Monaco and so on).  I
wonder what your view is on this.  Would you be able to meet me in
Parliament to let me lobby on this issue which really matters to the
people of Hendon?

Yours sincerely,

Ben Samuel


email from utu health last week

Our NHS is being sold piece by piece

Now your MP has a chance to save it

On Friday 21 November a bill will be put before parliament that puts the brakes on the worst aspects of the government’s pro-privatisation, market driven NHS reforms – making it publiclly accountable once more!
But we need your help to make sure that your MP votes and supports Labour MP Clive Efford’s National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill.
  1. Put pressure on your MP to vote: MPs are in their constituencies this week, why not pay yours a visit? Ring them or send an email. Find out where and when your MP holds their constituency surgery at theyworkforyou.com 
  2. Backing the bill is not enough – make sure your MP commits to turn up to vote on the 21 November in the House of Commons 
  3. Sign the petition
But there’s still more you can do:
  1. Join a big NHS day of action near you on Saturday 15 November. Take part in leafleting and petition signing across England. Find an event near you 
  2. Join the all-night vigil outside parliament from 7pm on Thursday 20 to Friday 21 November to save our NHS. More details here.
Despite David Cameron’s repeated promises of ‘no top down reorganisation’, the government’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 ushered in the biggest shake-up of the NHS in its history. It flung open the doors to increased privatisation and enforced competition; removed the Secretary of State’s duty to provide a comprehensive health service and has allowed Foundation Trust to make even more money –up to 49 per cent of their income – from treating private paying patients. We would argue at the expense of NHS patient.

Download the briefing to get the facts.

Unite believes that the bill is a step in the right direction to building an NHS fit for the future. It seeks to change the most damaging aspects of the Health and Social Care Act by:
  • Returning to the Secretary of State the responsibility to guarantee comprehensive healthcare provided free at the point of need. 
  • Putting patient care before private profit, protecting our NHS from the competition-led race to the bottom opened up in the Health and Social Care Act and EU competition law. 
  • Limiting the amount of income NHS trusts can make from private patients, ensuring NHS patients are not forced to the back of the queue behind paying customers. 
  • Giving parliament sovereignty over the NHS so that any future treaties or trade agreements would have to be debated and voted on in Parliament before they can apply to the NHS.
Don’t accept excuses – senior Tories themselves admit that the £3 billion NHS shake-up has been their biggest mistake in government. Now is the time for MPs from across the political divide; Conservatives, Lib-Dems and Labour, to right this wrong.  

Thanks for your support 

Rachael Maskell National officer health 
Barrie Brown, National officer health

Adele speaks out on housing

This letter in the standard today.  Well done, Adele. Today I marched with communists calling on Myleene to pay her tax, and tried to get them to join the Greens...

Myleene Klass is right that “mansion tax” is a misnomer. There are several streets in Golders Green and Finchley where the going price of a family home is £2 million or a little less. This proposed tax is causing anxiety, both among the elderly and families on less than massive incomes who aren’t reassured by a roll-up — the latter would make it difficult for them to sell and move if they need a few bedrooms for children or grandparents.
The Green Party calls instead for a Land Value Tax along with better regulation of landlords, and requiring landlords who live overseas to pay tax on their rental income.
Adele Ward, Green Party candidate

Free Education

I will be attending the demonstration for free education tomorrow.  More info about the event can be found on the website of the young greens and anticuts.com

West Hendon Latest

A lot goes on in West Hendon that I can't publish on my blog due to sheer activity.
Here's what's happening today: A dear friend of ours is in court.


BAPS sent out an email so I went this morning and it turns out the case isn't for a few hours. 3.30 room 4.  I hope they allow us in to observe but I've been warned it might be "in camera" which is latin for confidential.  The cases tend to be booked for 5 minutes and many resign to not even go along.  The advice from me is to go along, but I'm not a lawyer.

Mitzvah Day

I had a really fun Mitzvah day.  In the Madden's Free House afterwards it was the first chance to catch up with all 3 of the leading Barnet Green Party members; myself, Poppy, and Adele.  Phil is also amazing for organising today.  I've sent the photo off to the Jewish Chronicle's features editor Barry.  It's got some amusing twitter trolling from the right wing citizen blogger the Barnet Bugle, cheer-led by Mr Mustard.  However, plastic bags aren't really the issue; we've made David Cameron take action on that.  Most of the litter we found was wrappers and drinks cans.

Signing up to The Ten Commitments

The Board of Deputies write in their new general election report
"In some areas, particularly among the strictly Orthodox, the Jewish
community is characterised by large families, which forms an integral part
of their Jewish identity. When one or more principal earners in such a
household becomes unemployed or incapacitated, the need and dependency
on housing and welfare benefits can become acute.
Caps on benefits, including housing benefit, disproportionately affect families
on low incomes. Where families with six plus children suddenly receive the
same amount of certain benefit payments as families with three children,
extreme hardship can rapidly follow.
The policy intention might be that welfare-dependent families living in
areas of high housing costs might relocate to cheaper areas. This is not
practical or realistic for Jewish families in London who have longstanding
ties to their communities and families and whose way of life necessitates
close proximity to community infrastructure like Orthodox synagogues,
schools and kosher food."

and ask for greater flexibility in the benefits system.
Unlike the Labour Party, who call themselves socialist, we Greens take such evidence from the Child Poverty Action Group and the Board of Deputies very seriously.  We're committed to benefit reform, but not in a punitive way described above.  If the Jewish Community wants to stay put in areas like Stamford Hill with large families, the long run solution is the Basic Income Garantee.  This policy gives everyone the right to a basic material standard of living as a right.  If they work, it tops up their income, and if they don't, they don't have to be humiliated or moved from their community.  The economy benefits only the banks, but BIG would create aggregate demand by putting money in people's pockets, which would then circulate and make businesses more successful and serve the people.  It's simply not acceptable that so many people live below the poverty line.

"Great art!"

Darren Johnson, part time art critic, part time housing speaker for the Green Party (when they can put together a decent shadow cabinet!) has called Azaan and his sister's work at last night's meeting on "Council Housing in Barnet?" a work of "great art."
Some messages from the young artists facing eviction from their homes by

Vote of no confidence in Barnet Council

There is a lot of in-fighting in the council between the two main parties, who thanks to the voting system, have a virtual monopoly on local decision making (i.e. cuts).

There is a motion in tonight's meeting from the Tory's housing chairman Tom Davey to explain why he has the interests of the people at heart, but it's unfortunately been misrepresented by political campaigners.  The full agenda is here

The leader of the Labour Group, whom local people may remember lost power a few years ago, has called a vote of no confidence in the Tories!
You can read the motion here http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/documents/s18563/Councillor%20Alison%20Moore%20-%20Annual%20Council%202014%20-%20External%20Investigation.pdf
They are making quite a big thing of it in local activist circles, for instance Mrs Angry.  My prediction is Labour will vote for it but it will fall because of lack of support from the Tories.

Some housing campaigners are planning to attend on the same night for the earlier regular monthly meeting.  Good luck to them, they've felt ignored for long enough!

Chomsky Quote from Another Angry Voice going round twitter

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum....”

― Noam Chomsky, The Common Good (1998)

Sit in in West Hendon

Today the campaign group Our West Hendon organised a sit-in in the community centre.  They covered the "welcome" sign with a white sheet, and spontaneously entered the building.

Canvassing phase 1

One of the reasons it is important to canvas is to find out what is actually going on!  Labour and their trade unions are saying that "if they get in they'll stop the whole development" on the West Hendon Estate.  This of course puts the planned school up in the air.
That may be true but Labour do not have all the answers.
My emails tell me a demo is being organised outside the community centre today to protest against the plans, which are being exhibited.  I have seen some of the plans on show in the sales centre, and though I stay true to my values, not living on the West Hendon estate give me the luxury of not having a position on this.  We'll see when the project is finished whether it's any good in the long run.
The chap I spoke to also told me there is a lot of subsidence due to the ground water and modern foundations are more established when it comes to stopping the blocks sliding into the water.  We'll see about those too.