Archive for the ‘My Own Work’ Category

Save the NHS

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

For a large protest which had tens of thousands marching through London, February’s ‘NHS in Crisis: Fix It Now!‘ protest got remarkably little news coverage. As so often I got the feeling that had it taken place in another country it might have got a higher profile. But it was in London, and organised by Health Campaigns Together & The People’s Assembly Against Austerity and was opposed to the growing takeover of the NHS by private companies, doubtless many of which are connected with the few billionaires who own most of our newspapers and other media organisations.

They don’t of course control the BBC, but this increasingly takes its definition of ‘news’ from the commercial media and also largely supports the status quo; there are some fine journalists working for them and reporting from abroad, but things happening in the UK are largely seen through the eyes of presenters and backroom staff with Oxbridge degrees and former positions in Conservative student and other organisations. It isn’t of course possible to entirely hide the current crisis in the NHS, but you can hide the worst of it, blame everything except government cuts.

And of course there are other mistakes that the government is responsible for. The programme of PFI hospital rebuilding, begun by John Major but largely taken over and hugely expanded by New Labour will continue to be a huge drag on the NHS for another 30 or so years, And the success of the NHS in keeping us alive longer had added to its own troubles.

Despite some of the lies put about by largely Tory politicians, we still have a health service that is the envy of much of the world, free at the point of use. But it is one that is run by politicians who have written at spoken about replacing it by a US-style system which refuses many treatment and bankrupts others. We all know about the appalling shootings that take place far too often in US schools, but for many parents whose children are shot the financial consequences add to the grief at the loss or injury of their children, with huge bills for hospital services. We get a good health service (despite some problems) and we get it on the cheap.

The NHS needs more funding. We all know it, which is why that huge lie on the Brexit bus was so effective, though most who thought about it knew at the time it would never pay up. Cancelling ridiculous ‘prestige’ projects such as the replacement of Trident could go some way towards funding it properly, and taxing the corporations that make huge profits in the UK but avoid paying their taxes would certainly help – by a conservated estimate we lose £300bn a year through big business off-shoring, roughly twice the total NHS budget, but probably we need to pay more tax directly for the NHS, though increases in income tax and national insurance. I’ve already signed a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer telling him I’d happily pay another penny on my income tax to go directly to the NHS.

Of course there are places in the NHS where savings could be made. It’s hard to understand why it apparently costs the NHS around £12 to provide a month’s supply of aspirin which I could buy at the pharmacist for around 30p, or why they pay a US company £3,000 for a month’s supply of a drug which can be bought as a generic from an Indian company for £40. But Trump wants to put up the charges that US pharmaceutical companies make to the NHS, saying they are getting them too cheaply.

The NHS is currently slipping away from us, increasingly privatised, currently with the introduction of US-style medical care by Accountable Care Organisations, siphoning cash from the NHS into the pockets of shareholders – including many leading mainly Tory politicians. Its also becoming increasing clear that the 2012 Coalition Government Health and Social Care Act has created a terrible mess and is in need of radical surgery or rather replacement by measures that bring the NHS back under properly accountable control. Aneurin Bevan may never have actually said “The NHS will last while there are folk left with the faith to fight for it” (it was actually the invention of a TV script writer) but the need for that fight is greater now than ever.

Fix the NHS Crisis Now

______________________________________________________

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Brixton Portraits and GDPR

Monday, May 28th, 2018

Rather fewer photographers now have shops with windows to display examples of their work, and of course it was only those who made a living from social photography – weddings, portraits etc – who sold their services to the general public for whom it made sense. Now, most people take their own portraits, apart from those usually hideous examples produced by school photographers which parents are blackmailed into accepting so that schools can have a photographic record of their pupils (or rather ‘students’ now that you graduate even from nursery schools.)

Of course there are parents who like them, but when I was a teacher I was opposed to them on principle; not just because they generally had the same degree of originality as a photobooth, but because I knew that they put parents on low incomes into the position of having to either pay for them and go without necessary food or clothing or disappoint their child and force them to take the pictures back to hand in at school.

But good social portraiture is a rare skill, and during the late 1980s and early 1980s I carried out a project that involved photographing in and through many shop windows across London, and this included many photographer’s windows. I photographed a detail on one in Landor Rd in 1989 which I think must have been Harry Jacobs studio window; the caption states 4/6/89 Landor Rd 305758, where the 6 figure number is a Grid reference, though these were not always correct to the last figure. The image is a scan from a commercial enprint, which I could locate quickly as these are filed by the 1km grid square in which they were taken.

I’m sorry that I don’t appear to have taken a wider view of the shop front, but this picture is unusual for me and I think means that I realised the value of his work. As with many of the pictures in this series it was taken on a Sunday morning, when most shops were closed as this usually enabled me to work undisturbed. I do remember thinking that it would be worth going back and finding out more about what appeared to be a remarkable social record, but I never got around to doing so. And perhaps a little over ten years later I noticed the shop no was no longer there.

Soemone from the Photographers’ Gallery had clearly also noticed the work, and three years after Jacobs retired in 1999, with an archive of almost 60,000 photographs they put on a show based around his work in 2002, discussed in The Guardian. His son wrote a short piece, My Father the photographer which was published in The Evening Standard.

The Photographers’ Gallery apparently decided at the time that for photographs taken before the 1988 Copyright Act they had to get permission from the subjects to exhibit them. I’m not sure that was true, but although we have had no such problems from then until now, it is possible that things may be different again under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). But you can rest assured that the GDPR allows processing for the purposes of journalism, and I think for art. The problem with the work by Jacobs was that it had been taken as a commercial agreement between the sitter and photographer and the sitter’s permission was probably required for it to be shown as art or documentary. My photograph above is clearly a work of art!

The Freelance Branch of the NUJ (a union to which all journalists in the UK should belong) has published an excellent guide to the GDPR for Freelances, which is generally reassuring, though it does point out we should all have registered as data controllers under the Data Protection Act 1998 and should continue to pay the £40 per year this involves.

You are also required to take proper steps to protect your data, which would include using strong passwords or physical locks on devices including computers, backup disks and memory sticks etc. The article makes clear that as journalists you can use the exemptions for free expression to avoid giving any information in response to ‘subject access requests‘ and that journalism is explicitly exempted from the ‘right to be forgotten‘. Something which may upset some is that the advice suggests that there may be problems under GDPR in using cloud storage.

Back to Harry Jacobs. My reason for mentioning him is that Lambeth Council are for once doing something I approve of, with a show of his work in the Town Hall. A Snapshot of Brixton: Harry Jacobs and the Empire Windrush opened on Friday 25th May and runs until Friday 6th July. Open M – F, 09.00 – 20.00

Back to the Elephant

Sunday, May 27th, 2018

Though not actually to the Elephant, but to the dark street outside Southwark Council Offices near London Bridge for a protest outside where a Southwark Council meeting which due to vote on plans by developer Delancey and the council which would destroy the Elephant & Castle centre and the community around it. At an earlier meeting the decision had been deferred to allow Delancey to come up with new proposals to meet the community objections.

Although they had made some changes, the proposals were still nowhere near acceptable, but the protest ended in something of an anti-climax. While the protesters had been hopeful that the plans would be turned down, instead the council voted to put off the decision until a further meeting to give Delancey time to submit a revised proposal.

There seems to be little hope that the revised plans will be very much better, but whether they will then be approved is hard to predict. It looks as if the council cabinet that backs the private developer has enough power to keep the redevelopment on the table until the opposition in the council gets worn down enough to pass it.

So it remained likely that the redevelopment would at some point go ahead, and that most of the protesters worse fears about social cleansing etc. will be shown to have been justified, while the developers and a few in the council offices do very nicely for themselves, with some moving to lucrative private sector jobs.

The protest was unusual, featuring Latin dancing and bingo, representing just two of the groups who will lose out. And of course elephants.

The struggle here is of course part of a wider struggle in the Labour movement, with Southwark COuncil dominated by right-wing Blairites, members of ‘Progress’, a group in the party opposed to many of its present policies and including many dedicated to the downfall of Jeremy Corbyn.

So far the Labour right have managed to maintain control of important aspects of the party machinery, which has allowed this group to continue as a Thatcherite fifth column inside the party, but with increasing support  both in the party and in the nation for the new policies this may change. It has long been clear that the party’s only hope of re-election is to unite behind a leader – like Corbyn – who rejects the old and failed Blairite approach.

Estate regeneration, as first proposed under Blair, was one of the party’s better policies, but failed in essentials like taking the needs of the estate residents and others on council waiting lists into account and accounting for the clever tricks of developers.  With proper consultation which actually took the residents views seriously and relatively small sums of money to renovate and refurbish, along with sensitive infill to provide new council-owned properties, most of the estates now being demolished could have a useful long-term future – as the schemes put forward by ASH (Architects for Social Housing) and others have demonstrated.

Many of the estates targeted so far are not those most in need of regeneration, but often some of the more viable estates, chosen because their position and scale means huge profits for private developers.  Many of the estates from the 1960s, though possibly in out of fashion styles, are better built and to higher standards in many respects to their new replacements, and with refurbishment and maintenance would have long outlasted current builds.

Class War’s poster ‘Labour Councils: The Biggest Social Cleansers in London‘ is of course correct, because Labour controls most of London’s councils. And while Tory councils might well see social cleansing as one of their aims (as Dame Shirley Porter did as Leader in Westminsterwe expect Labour councils to work for all their residents, including those in social housing, and their failure to do so is shameful.

One of those who spoke at the protest was Piers Corbyn, who told us he had talked to his younger brother who was determined to see a change.  I worked hard to get the name Corbyn visible behind him as he spoke, with people keeping getting in the way, but I finally managed it. Southwark Momentum just didn’t have their banner up high enough at the protest, and a few months later failed to get enough of those they supported nominated for the council.

Bingo and Dancing for Elephant & Castle

______________________________________________________

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Afrin Matters

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

On 19 January 2018 Turkey announced that it was going to attack Afrin, a Kurdish area on its border with Syria, and an outlying part of the largely autonomous mainly Kurdish area, The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria widely known as Rojava. Turkey has been at war with the Kurds inside Turkey for many years, in a long campaign to eliminate the Kurdish culture, and Kurdish national leader Abdullah Öcalan has been held in solitary confinement in a Turkish prison since he was captured with US help in 1999.

President Erdogan launched the Orwellian-named ‘Operation Olive Branch’ to attack and destroy what he called a “nest of terror” on Turkey’s borders, claiming that the Kurdish forces there, the YPG and the YPJ are simply forces of the Kurdish PKK, banned in many countries as a terrorist organisation. He also claimed that he would be fighting Islamic State forces, which have no presence in the area.

Many might see the PKK and the 1984 Kurdish uprising when its military campaign began as an inevitable response to the attempted Turkish elimination of Kurdish identity. For many years it was a criminal offence to use the Kurdish language, even in private, and many were imprisoned for it. The wearing of Kurdish clothes, the use of Kurdish names and other aspects of Kurdish culture were also banned. Although there was some lessening of the anti-Kurdish laws in the 1990s, the situation for them and all opposition groups has worsened considerably over the past year or so, with Erdogan increasing military operations inside the country and imprisoning many of his political opponents.

Erdogan claimed that the attack on Afrin would also be against Islamic State, but Turkey has provided the major support for IS, by taking part in the smuggling of oil from their occupied regions, as shown very clearly by intelligence reports published by the Russians when they first became seriously involved in military support for the Assad regime in Syria. The only IS fighters in Afrin are some from the forces defeated by the Kurds who are now fighting with Turkey against those who defeated them.

Eight days later a larger protest took place against the attacks led by Turkey, again with the Kurds defiant. But the Kurds in Afrin were clearly out-numbered by their attackers, largely armed with rifles while the Turkish Army is large and well-equipped. But like much else that now happens in Syria it was probably the Russians whose action – or in this case, failure to act that would be the determining factor.

The Russians back Assad, and Assad rightly sees the Turkish invasion as an attack on Syria. But Russia also sees the advantages of a closer relationship with Turkey, hoping by doing so to weaken NATO of which Turkey is a member. Once the Russians had allowed the Turkish Air Force to operated unhindered over the area a military victory for the Turkish invasion seemed inevitable, even it it might be slow. Two months later they had occupied the centre of the city, with Kurdish forces withdrawing but promising to keep up military opposition through guerilla warfare. Though the war was won, it is not yet over.

Erdogan had promised to advance further towards the rest of Rojova, but his moves in that direction have met with opposition from the US who had previously allied with the Kurds to fight Islamic state. The US had stood aside and watched the invasion of Afrin but so far seem to be standing firm against further Turkish advances.

Defend Afrin, stop Turkish Attack

Stop Turkey’s invasion of Afrin

______________________________________________________

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

IWGB Protest Outsourcing in Academia

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

I like to photograph the protests organised by the IWGB (Independent Workers Union of Great Britain) both because they are noisy, lively and generally photogenic, but also because I think it scandalous the way low paid workers are treated.

I’ve written often enough about out-sourcing and how it is used by companies to try and evade their duty as responsible employers, hiding behind the convenient fiction that they have no responsibility towards these people whose work is essential to the running of their organisations because they pay another company to employ them. It simply doesn’t wash.

As well as low wages and the legal minimum conditions of service – holidays, sick pay, pensions – outsourced workers also generally suffer from poor and sometimes despotic management, with overwork and bullying rife. Many too are on zero hours contracts, a legal fiction which is effectively a non-contract which works only in the interests of the employer and lays employees open to various unfair practices.

I’d gone to photograph the protest by cleaners, receptionists, security officers, porters and post room staff at the central administration of the University of London who had been on strike and picketing since the early morning. The picket over (severely restricted by Thatcherian anti-union laws) they were joined by other workers and supporters and myself for a loud rally in the early evening.

There was music on a PA system, much waving of flags and shouting of demands, and a great samba band all reminding the University that its workers are demanding to be directly employed. And at the end a number of speeches by the workers and their trade union leader, as well as other trade unionists in support.

And there was then a surprise. Well, by then it was not a surprise to me as one of the trade union leaders had whispered in my ear (though given the noise level I think he had to shout) earlier what would happen, and a double-decker bus arrived and we were invited to go on a mystery tour to another location where the IWGB are in dispute.

The location was not announced (though I had been told) so that the police and others listening could not warn those at our destination, where the IWGB hoped to be able to walk in and protest in the foyer. I wasn’t entirely pleased with the idea, as I was getting rather hungry and wanted to get home where dinner was waiting, but it was an opportunity not to be missed. The journey through London in the evening rush hour was hideously slow but eventually we were dropped off just around the corner from our destination, and got ready, walking quietly towards the doors. Two people went ahead and held them open as we arrived and walked in with two security guards helpless to stop us.

We were at the Royal College of Music, another academic institution that outsources its cleaners to evade its responsibilities, and where Tenon FM who recently took over the cleaning contract decided to unilaterally cut hours in half and change shift times, telling the cleaners they must work at times most already have other cleaning jobs. The cleaners now threatened with dismissal for refusing to accept the new hours.

After 12 minutes, the police arrived and ordered the protesters outside, where the protest continued on the pavement. One of the police officers was clearly incensed at the way the protesters were behaving and seemed likely to arrest some of them, but his colleagues restrained him. The protest appeared to be lawful and the police should not be taking sides as he so obviously was.

Flashing blue lights from police cars make photography a little unpredictable, and produce some strange effects, which are seldom too appealing. The high-output blue LEDs have a very limited spectral range, turning everything directly illuminated by them an intense blue. But the protest appeared to have settled down and I felt nothing much else was going to happen, so I left for home and food.

More on the two protests at:

Cleaners rush into Royal College of Music
End Outsourcing at University of London

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Homeopathic Advertising

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018

I was attracted by a post by Shaun Curry Co-founder of Pixelrights on their blog, We laughed then decided it wasn’t funny at all largely because of the phrase ‘Homeopathic Advertising’ he invents in it.

It tells the story of how the UK Government Trade & Investment office (UKTi) approached him to use one of his pictures “in their new ‘GREAT Britain campaign’ “the biggest ever integrated Government international marketing campaign” with funding of £30 million” and which they say would be seen in “120 countries!!” Which sounds like good news except all that they were offering the photographer from that £30million was ‘exposure’.

After he contacted them suggesting they should pay for its use, they did offer him £100. Now for us people who sell stuff for use in newspapers and magazines that would not be an unusually low fee for single use – but this was a major campaign and they wanted to secure the “images for 2 years, with above and below the line advertising rights.”

Basically this means using the image in all sorts of media, both mass media – print, web, TV – and in more personalised advertising such as direct mail, email… If like me you are an advertising virgin (I did come close to selling an image to some clothing company a few years ago, I think it had some name like Gap, for a few thou, but they changed their mind at the last minute) you might want to read more about Above and Below the Line, but basically it means big bucks.

Quite how big – and how much to ask should UKTi get in touch with you and want free use you can work out from the Association of Photographers online usage calculator. You need to start by inputting your BUR or Base Usage Rate, which they advise should never be less than your normal day rate, and would include a single use of the image.

The calculator then allows you to multiply this for the various rights the client wants, including the type or usage and the countries in which the image would be used. If you try it out for the UKTi’s claim you are almost certain to end up somewhere well north of £10,000 – for which they were offering a byline.

Even on Alamy, putting in some details of just one of the uses can come up with four figure sums though I suspect many customers opt for vague things like ‘Marketing package’ at around $50 rather than paying for their actual usage. If I was at Alamy I’d take a close look at what UKTi have done with any images they have bought.

Curry found out he wasn’t the only photographer they had tried it on. They approached someone else with a similar image who also wasn’t going to play ball. I have a nasty suspicion they will have gone on trying other photographers until they found one who fell for it, probably someone who is a near-starving photojournalist who thought that getting a hundred (or even two if they had to raise their offer) wasn’t a bad deal, perhaps someone like me who found his best sale so far on Alamy this month was $20.

£30 million is a big budget, and photography is a vital part of the campaign. UKTi should be prepared to pay a reasonable price for it – and heads should roll there if people are prepared to compromise the project with derisory offers like this.

America First

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Not the protectionist policy of President Trump, which I rather hope the rest of the world will take exception to and stand up against, perhaps by similarly excessive tariffs on US natural gas or some such, but I photographed what I think was the first protest at the new US Embassy in London.

It’s a building I’ve been keeping my eye on for some time as it has risen up from the ground at Nine Elms as my railway journey to London takes me past it several times each week, and I’ve often taken the odd snap in passing – the one above in December 2015.

A few months later I had an hour or so spare and took a walk around the area, though most of it was a building site and still closed to the public, but I could photograph from the road or the Thames Path.

I’m not sure the building was improved by these plastic thingies on its sides, or rather three of the four sides, but it doesn’t really have a great deal else going for it visually. It does stand out from the mediocrity with which it is surrounded, but it might have been better left naked. It wasn’t a good day for photographing the area, with alternating light and heavy rain, but I took a few pictures and told myself I’d be coming back again before long for another protest.

The protest by Stand Up To Racism was on the anniversary of President Trump’s inauguration. The protest was prompted by his racist description of African nations, Haiti and El Salvador as ‘shitholes’, and included a rather too graphic poster related to it, which you can see, along with other pictures of the event at US Embassy – No to Trump’s racism.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

My London Diary April 2018

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Again it has taken me a long time to complete uploading the images and texts for the previous month, which was disappointing as until close to the end of the month I had kept up with things pretty well. But a few busy days near the end of April and then May Day, always hectic, put me back rather, and a weekend away put me back even more. But it’s probably more down to a few little problems, health and photographic that have kept me occupied.

Apr 2018

International Vigil supports Mumia Abu-Jamal
Windrush march to Home Office
Workers’ Memorial Day Grenfell vigil


International Workers’ Memorial Day


End outsourcing at University of London
Justice for Asifa protest
Recognise the Armenian Genocide
Land Rover stop supporting Bahrain
Solidarity with the Windrush families


City Highwalk
‘Time to Twig’ Masked Ball
Indians protest President Modi’s visit
Hindus support Modi
Save Girl, Educate Girl
Stop & Scrap Universal Credit say DPAC
Grenfell silent walk – 10 months on
Bikers for Grenfell
Hizb Ut-Tahrir protest against Turkey
The Landlords’ Game
Ditch the Deal say NHS Staff


Don’t Bomb Syria protests
Palestinian Prisoners Day protest


Great March of Return – Stop the Killing
Lea Valley Walk
CND At 60 at Aldermaston

London Images

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Save the Elephant

Thursday, May 17th, 2018


Protesters outside the council meeting

London’s Elephant, or Elephant & Castle is south London’s major road junction, funnelling traffic from Westminster, Blackfriars and the city to where both the A2 and the A3 head off, one to Dover and the other towards Portsmouth and the south-west.

It gets its name from a coaching inn, probably older than Shakespeare, replaced several times over the years, most recently around 1960. That name and the elephant symbol on the 1965 shopping centre probably came from the Worshipful Company of Cutlers, who used ivory on the handles of their knives and whose coat of arms is supported by two elephants and, since 1622 has had a crest with an elephant carrying a castle on its back.


The Elephant & Castle shopping centre

Although the post-war reconstruction of the area included some of the better buildings of the era – including the now demolished Heygate Estate* and the 1959 Alexander Fleming House (1959) now converted into flats – the shopping centre, planned with great aspirations to revolutionise retailing in the UK was sadly reduced in scope by budget restrictions and never really took off. Increasingly it was isolated by the ever heavier traffic flows and the often unpopular subways many had to use to reach it.


The march sets off from the Elephant

New road layouts, including the removal of the subways have improved the area, but the shopping centre is still less than inspiring, though a thriving and lively market has grown up there, largely due to the Latin American community. But that doesn’t make enough money for Southwark Council and the private developers the council has largely been taken over by, and there has been a huge programme to replace low cost social housing by high rise private towers and estates, forcing many of the former residents out of the area, often to the cheaper fringes of London or further.

As well as towers like the ugly Strata with its purely decorative green-washing wind turbines on its top (they caused highly unpleasant vibrations for the residents when used) there are larger schemes such as Elephant Park, which replaced the Heygate, as well as ongoing demolitions on the large Aylesbury Estate and plans to remove all or most of the borough’s council housing by the Labour council dominated by the right-wing ‘Thatcher-Lite’ New Labour Progress group. Much of the new properties are destined to be sold off-plan to foreign investors and never occupied and very few will provide the new homes that so many Londoners desperately need at rents they can afford.


London Latin American banner on the march ‘Protect our Barrios – Fight Gentrification’

So it came as no surprise when the council and the new owners of the shopping centre Delancey announced plans in 2015 to demolish it and redevelop the area. Nor, given what has already happened in the area that the needs of the growing Latin American population, which in 2009 the chair of the London Assembly had made clear were important and should be taken into account in the regeneration of the area were almost completely ignored. Though they weren’t being singled out – the needs of the rest of the community were also marginalised in a redevelopment by Delancey together with the London College of Communication who would get a new campus.


The protesters meet for a rally before the march at the LCC, where a student occupation is taking place against the plans

As well as local residents and traders, the protest also included students from the LCC, who incensed by the proposals and their management’s collusion with Delancey have occupied part of their building. Trade unionists from the LCC and also working for Southwark Council were also taking part in the protest, and a number of councillors had also come out against the proposals which the council officers had recommended and the cabinet were hoping to push through. I left well before the end of the long meeting, where the full council turned the current proposals down (14 had earlier signed an open letter against the scheme, citing “unacceptable” social housing provision and inadequate protection for traders), but after several more hours in private session agreed to hold another meeting at the end of the month, where Delancey were expected to come up with an improved proposal.


Piers Corbyn, Jeremy’s older brother and a Southwark resident speaks to to the crowd

The protests so far have obviously led to some improvements in the scheme, but the gulf between development for profit and development for public good is still huge and it seems unlikely that it can be bridged. Until the Labour party membership in Southwark – and other London Labour councils – takes back control from Progress though the democratic mechanisms of the party, social cleansing will continue.

As well as pictures from the protest I arrived a little early and took a few pictures in the immediate area Around the Elephant.

Images and text of the protest are at Don’t destroy Elephant & Castle
______________________________________________________
*
Walking the Rip-Off – Heygate & Aylesbury
Heygate Estate Scandal
Heygate Panoramas

______________________________________________________

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________

Guantanamo – 16 years

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

It came as something of a shock to realise that the prison camp at Guantanamo was set up 16 years ago, on 11th January 2002, and that there are still over 40 people held indefinitely there. As I wrote on My London Diary, almost all:

“were sold to the US by Afghan militias and the Pakistani military for cash bounties with no real evidence of terrorist involvement, but whose torture in CIA secret prisons across the world before arrival at Guantanamo as while as throughout their detention there makes their release too embarrassing to US authorities.”

I photographed two events in London to mark the anniversary, a lunchtime vigil in Trafalgar Square and a candlelit vigil in the evening outside the US Embassy, still then in Grosvenor Square. You can read more and see more pictures in the posts on My London Diary:

Guantanamo Vigil Marks 16 years
Close Guantanamo – 16years

I think the first protest against Guantanmo I attended was possibly in December 2003, though it may just have been the first where I used a digital camera, as relatively few of my pictures on film are on My London Diary, which I set up largely to post my digital work, putting on just a few earlier film images.

Back in those days, the camera I was using was a Nikon D100, and I had only one Nikon lens, a 24-85mm, and would also be using a camera with wider lenses (and longer) loaded with film for most of my work. The rather odd colour of the digital images from those years partly reflects the software used to process the raw files which was at the time limited compared to Lightroom and other current programs, but also my relative inexperience in using digital, though I had been using the camera for around a year.

By January 2006, cameras, software and myself had improved somewhat – and the D200 was perhaps the first digital camera I was really happy with, and many of the pictures were quite respectable. I had also bought several more lenses and had given up using film, working only digitally.

Looking at some of the images full-size, it is apparent how much image processing software has moved on, and I think I could re-process the raw images to produce technically rather superior results – if I had the time. It is one of the advantages of taking pictures in raw format that you can go back and rework them differently, whereas jpegs allow rather less without unacceptable degredation, though Lightroom can often perform a surprisingly good makeover.

Until relatively recently, those bright orange jump suits presented something of a challenge, with some being highly fluorescent which tended to eliminate all detail, but improvements in Lightroom have changed this. Even this year, improvements in the ‘Auto’ setting on the exposure basics have considerably cut down the fiddling involved in this and other challenging situations.

I think this may too have been the first occasion on which I photographed Vanessa Redgrave, and others who spoke included Moazzam Begg, released by that time, and Amani Deghayes whose brother Omar was still being held there.

Later I was pleased to photograph the last British resident held there, Shaker Aamer, after his release, but regular protests continue for the 41 others still held. A site search on ‘My London Diary’ on ‘Guantanamo’ gives over 150 results, and though there may be several links to each protest, there are still reports on a considerable number on the site. Below are links to the four I’ve mentioned here:

December 2003: Guantanamo Bay protest, Whitehall
January 2006: Free British Residents from Guantanamo Bay
January 2018: Close Guantanamo – 16years
January 2018: Guantanamo Vigil Marks 16 years
______________________________________________________

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, a small donation – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images

________________________________________________________