Archive for the ‘My Own Work’ Category

Refugees Still Welcome

Friday, June 2nd, 2017

The General Election campaign is back in full swing with less than a week to go before the vote. Like many I’ve been a little surprised at how well Jeremy Corbyn has been succeeding in getting his message across, despite a generally hostile press and media, though I’ve not been letting myself carried away.

Most shocking have been some of the statements made by a few hard-core opponents of him in the Labour Party, and even in the unlikely event of Corbyn being able to form a government it wouldn’t be surprising if there were enough defections from the party of candidates who got elected though a successful campaign that he led to immediately bring it down.

It’s been a disappointing to see too some of the compromises that Corbyn has had to make, presenting policies that he doesn’t believe in because they are Labour policies, voted for by conference. Wasting a small fortune on Trident is of course one of them; there must be ways those workers involved could be employed on something that makes sense, and time the unions involved were clamouring for this rather than supporting a white elephant for the sake of members’ jobs.

I’m sure too that Corbyn would like to be far more positive about the benefits of immigration and of welcoming refugees and asylum seekers than he has been in this campaign, and ending their often heartless and sometimes illegal persecution by the Home Office. Opinion polls show that the British population would give their support to a fairer and more welcoming approach, but one that his political opponents would pounce on. Labour have few promises, though they do state they would end the indefinite detention of migrants, but on refugees there is only the vague statement that Britain would take in its ‘fair share’.

Clearly the Conservative government have been against that – as the handful of Syrian refugees allowed in and the failure to live up to the Dubs Amendment over bringing in refugee children have shown.

I wasn’t in Parliament Square for all of the rally, and missed the Lord Dubs who was the only Labour politician to speak, along with Caroline Lucas MP for the Green Party and a Lib Dem campaigner Shas Sheehan. I did see Vanessa Redgrave (who I’d also photographed earlier) and Jeremy Hardy, but there were very few MPs making themselves known.

More  at Refugees Welcome Here

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What Housing Crisis?

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

I was going to write something about the so-called housing crisis in a week or two, when mentioning the appearance at the LSE’s 3-day ‘Resist’ festival of Simon Elmer (above) of Architects for Social Housing (ASH).


Lisa McKenzie who organised ‘Resist’ – one of several reasons for her victimisation by the LSE

On that occasion he gave a passionate and well-argued and evidenced indictment, ‘The Intellectual Bloodstain’ on a report by a group of LSE academics on Kidbrooke Village, a development by Berkeley Homes and Southern Housing, which you can read a little more about at Simon Elmer of ASH indicts LSE. What prompts me to come back to housing earlier is a recent post on the Ash Website, 10 Myths about London’s Housing Crisis.

Housing has of course emerged as an issue, if a relatively minor one, in the election campaign. And what is if not a crisis certainly a disaster is that both main parties have got the issue seriously wrong.

10 Myths…‘ was commissioned by The Guardian, but when they saw it they refused to publish it, one reason why I’m sharing it here. Both Tories and Labour have, possibly for slightly different reasons, delegated their housing policies to the developers and estate agents. The Tories because they and many of their backers are doing very nicely thank you out of the huge boom in property prices, and Labour, or at least New Labour who run many Labour local councils see selling off the council estates – realising their asset values – as a short-term solution to all the squeezes on local authority budgets.


Inhabitants of the Heygate Estate were early victims of Labour-led regeneration

What the Labour left think on the subject is something of a mystery, though possibly if they emerge stronger from the general election they may feel they can speak up for the currently down-trodden and oppressed council tenants rather than stay stum about their problems. But I wouldn’t bank on it even if we do get that unlikely Corbyn victory.

I have some reservations about Elmer’s first point, that rather than a crisis the present housing situation has been “been carefully prepared and legislated for by those who have the most to gain from it.” While he is right to suggest that it is more a scandal than a crisis, it has been one which is only partly down to deliberate plans and has been greatly assisted by unforeseen events.

When New Labour first set out their plans for regeneration they failed to envisage the extremes of inducements that developers would use to bribe councillors and councils, nor the huge gap in bargaining competency between long-practising private sector and naive public servants. Something of course that is also responsible for the huge cash crisis of the NHS – the PFI elephant that seldom seems to merit attention.

But the remaining nine points are I think straight down the line, and its an article that I commend to you – as well as to all politicians. If you really want to contribute to solving the ‘housing crisis’, you need to understand what it rally is. So should we wake up on June 9th with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister I rather hope he and his colleagues will have time to read this and take appropriate action. It it’s May again then if you are one of the millions affected  by the ‘housing crisis’ you should read it to find out why you are being shafted.

Simon Elmer of ASH indicts LSE
10 Myths about London’s Housing Crisis

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Hull Photos: 18/5/17-24/5/17

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

18th May 2017

The front garden of a house in Beverley Rd, on the corner of Fitzroy St were the offices of the Minor Contracts division of Quibell, a well-established Hull construction firm dating back to around 1875, responsible for many Hull buildings including the Guildhall and the Hull Cenotaph, which went into receivership in 2011.

The rose bushes were growing in square holes the paved front garden, surrounded by neat miniature wooden fences on top of concrete blocks, and their stems surrounded by stout sticks and wrapped around by barbed wire. Other wires were stretched across the square and around the fences. While I was photographing them a man came out from the office to talk to me, wondering why I was taking a picture. He told me that they had to protect the roses because of vandalism in the area.


32r35: Roses with extra thorns, Beverley Rd, 1982 – Beverly Rd

19th May 2017

It should have been simple to locate where I took this picture as the sign on the wall clearly says it is Exmouth St, but finding he exact site of this shop 35 years later was still something of a problem. There are only around 10 corners where other roads meet with Exmouth St, a road parallel to and a few yards west of Newland Ave; not all have gables on them but those that do are of a similar age to this building – but none of them now look much like this.

Memory and a little logic led me to think that his was at the south end of the street and eventually this proved to be the case. The adverts for Smarties and Nescafe are on top of a ‘ghost sign’ which shows just the top of the letters, and MAR are fairly clear. Google’s StreetView is fortunately something of a time machine, and takes me back as far as 2009, when those advertisements have gone, and the crumbling letters below can just about be made out, showing the sign to read:

MARKET
ENGLISH
& FOREIGN

By 2009 the first floor window with its decorative moulding remained, but the ground floor had been remodelled and the brickwork covered with a white rendering. The small window above the shop doorway is lower, and there is a new window to the left of the door. The central window has become a second doorway and the left hand window replaced by a double window – and all three decorative mouldings about the ground floor windows and door have been lost.

Around the end of 2014 the wall changed again, losing the former shop door, the window above and the new window to the side and gaining a few inches of external insulation – which now covers the whole wall, with a cut-out still revealing the street sign, but the last decorative moulding above the top window disappears. The external insulation is a very sensible addition – we did the same with our gable end and it makes a great difference to our comfort and the heating bills, but the changes over the years have made the house rather blander.

The window display is dominated by cleaning products – Surf, Ajax and washing up liquid, while the door favours Corona soft drinks – with bottles, perhaps of them visible on a counter inside, and State Express 555. And inside the shop is a large plastic sack of what I think is coal, or rather some kind of solid smokeless fuel. It was an expensive way to buy fuel, but the only choice for those with small budgets on weekly pay and often limited storage space.


32r44: Exmouth St shop wall, Edgecumbe St corner, 1982 – Beverly Rd

20th May 2017

I can probably count the number of cat pictures I’ve taken on the fingers of one hand, or at most two, and several of these were in Hull, where our wider family for a short time included a visiting cat with a taste for fizzy wines. But I’ll spare you that.

Here we have a mysterious cat peering through the net curtains and the reflection of a house whose location is at least equally mysterious to me, somewhere in the Newland Avenue vicinity, possibly in Grafton St or Goddard Avenue.


32r45: Cat in window, Newland Avenue area, 1982 – Beverly Rd

21st May 2017

Several of the streets between Newland Avenue and Beverley Road show some interesting variations in the treatment of doors,and other brickwork, and this was one example that particularly caught my eye, with its treatment of the two adjoining doors together under the same arch, and a motif in the gap between the rounded arches above the two doors and the slight pointed arch above that could almost be a mouth. Had I been using digital I would certainly have photographed more, but then every frame counted as it cost money I hardly had.

Clearly I framed it to just include the arches above the windows in the upper floor, and chose my position carefully with the 35mm shift lens to get the reflections of the two door arches opposite. At the right I included the sunburst patten over the door to the entry. I can’t remember why I chose to include the rather plain and boring bay and upper floor window at the right, but I suspect there may have been a car parked just out of frame at the left, and I possibly intended to crop the frame to a squarer format.

In 2015, student news site The Tab reported that Grafton St was the most dangerous street in Hull, with 225 crimes reported the previous academic year – more than one tenth of the total crimes in Hull over the period. Which is a pretty amazing record for a street less than 500 yards long. And it was this street that inspired The Beautiful South’s ‘The Rising of Grafton St’ on their second album – both former Housemartins Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway were living in this ‘street of alcoholics and militant activists’ when they formed the group at No 70 in 1988.


32r46: Houses and entry, Grafton St, 1982 – Beverly Rd

22nd May 2017

Two large pipes, on above the other formed a barrier along the edge of the dock wall east of the entrance to St Andrew’s Dock. Since they made their way across the dock entrance at the same level they were obviously only installed after the dock was closed in November 1975. I have no idea what the pipes carried, but it looked a rather temporary installation.

A couple of hundred yards east, roughly at the boundary between St Andrew’s Dock and William Wright Dock, the river wall turns to continue a few yards further north and there was a long wooden jetty. The pipes also took the turn and then disappeared from sight under the footpath.

The public footpath continues all the way to the centre of Hull, passing over the top of the new concrete buildings between the Albert Dock and Riverside Quay, built in the 1950s to replace the quay and its buildings destroyed by fire caused by bombing in May 1941. The burnt wooden jetties there were replaced by concrete, but a long area of wooden jetties remained at the west end of the docks.


32t32: Pipes and River Humber, St Andrew’s Dock, 1982 – Docks<\small>

23rd May 2017

Just left of centre is my reflection taking this picture, which also shows the two large pipes along the river edge and beyond them the Humber and the Lincolnshire bank. A second person at right, watching me is my brother-in-law who although Hull born and raised had never visited the fish docks before I took him there on this occasion.

There was little left inside the building to suggest what it had been used for.


32t34: Disused Building, St Andrew’s Dock, 1982 – Docks<\small>

24th May 2017

The view looking roughly north-east across the swing bridge over St Andrew’s Dock Entrance towards the Lord Line building, with signs on it for British United Trawlers Ltd and Marconi Marine. Adjoining it to the right the offices of J Marr & Son. Although the dock was closed to shipping and the fishing fleet moved to Albert and William Wright docks seven years earlier there were still some offices in the area in use, with cars parked around the buildings.

The dock had opened in 1883, and was intended to be used to handle coal, but for almost all of its working life was the fish dock. It was extended in 1894. The extension is now a retail park, retaining the name St Andrew’s but with little else to recall its former use. There have been several plans for the redevelopment of the dock, most recently as a ‘Heritage Dock’. The scheme would retain the 1949 building for the Lord Line trawler fleet, and the Grade II listed Hydraulic Tower but little else other than the dock itself which would be refilled with water and converted to a marina.

The scheme seems a poor reflection of the heritage, at best half-hearted, when perhaps a more ambitious heritage attraction based on the fishing industry and retaining all existing buildings on the site including the stylish 1932 Hull Steam Trawlers Mutual Insurance Protecting Company building – as well as using a part of the dock area for several museum ships and boats – including Hull’s Arctic Corsair, now occasionally open as a museum on the River Hull – representing the different eras of the industry could succeed, if on a smaller scale than Hull’s major tourist attraction, The Deep. Albert Dock has the advantage of being only a few feet from the A63 Clive Sullivan Way, with good connections to the motorway system.

Marinas are not good earners, taking up considerable space and offering relatively little in return and are playgrounds for the rich rather than offering any real value to the city. Retaining much of the character of the former dock area does not require keeping the whole of the dock, and a more sensible scheme might involve a more intensive development of the western part of the former dock area.

In 1982, the dock still had some water in it, but it was filled (or silted up) later in the decade.


32t41: Swing Bridge over St Andrew’s Dock entrance and Lord Line building, 1982 – Docks


You can see the new pictures added each day at Hull Photos, and I post them with the short comments above on Facebook.
Comments and corrections to captions are welcome here or on Facebook.
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A wet day at Yarl’s Wood

Monday, May 29th, 2017

We were late raching Yarl’s Wood. I’d come on the train to Bedford and joined a coach sitting outside the station to take people to the remote site, on a former wartime airfield a little over 5 miles to the north. The coach waited at the station for a later train, in case anyone else was on it, and we were late leaving.

Then the coach driver, who didn’t know the way was following an app on his phone. He overshot the obvious route up to the site from the A6, then turned around and went back to find it had been closed to traffic by the police, and was in any case marked as unsuitable for heavy good vehicles – something Google Maps didn’t take into account. He turned left back out of the road, then was told he needed to go further on, had to find a place to reverse and continue north on the A6.

We drove on to the next roundabout, stopping just before it as the road sign was covered by an overgrown hedge. A woman in the front seat volunteered to get out and go back and read it, but for some reason it was several minutes before she came back and told the driver to continue straight on. A mile or two further on was another roundabout, thankfully with a clear sign to point us in the correct direction.

It was 13.30 when we arrived, and my train had got into the station at 12.04. I could have walked there faster, though it would have been more tiring, and I was annoyed to have missed half an hour or more of the protest. And particularly as this early part, with all the protesters in a compact crowd is in some ways the best part of the proceedings for photography.

And to add to my gloom it was raining. I’ve got mixed feelings about rain when I’m taking pictures. It can sometimes produce interesting images, but it also adds to the problem, particularly if, like me, you prefer to work with wide-angle lenses.

With telephotos, the lens hood is generally quite effective in keeping the rain off the front element, but wide-angles like the 16-35mm zoom I was using have a large front element that the hood does little to protect. And however often you wipe the lens or hold it under cover, you have to bring it into the elements to take a picture, and as you do it has an irresistible attraction to water droplets falling from the sky to ruin your pictures.

Fortunately, though I had been stting in the coach cursing, we still arrived in time for the start of the march along the road and down the footpath to the detention centre.

Because I’d missed so much at the start I put rather more effort than usual into photographing this march, where usually it’s a rather a rest period between the rally before on the road and the protests in the field outside the immigration prison.

In front of Yarl’s Wood the conditions were tricky. The field slopes quite steeply down towards the fence, which is how we can see the upper floor windows despite the high fence. Half way down is a ditch which must stop some of the rain flowing down, though crossing it becomes a little difficult when the banks are slippery and there are a few inches of water in the bottom. Below that is a quagmire, with long puddles and slippery mud between them, with just a foot or two of concrete at the bottom of the fence.

Keeping one’s balance when moving around gets tricky in the wet, and ewven when trying to stand still to take pictures at times my boots started to slip.

Going higher up the hill gives a view of the windows and at some of them we could see people waving in greeting and holding up notices for us. THe further back up the hill, the easier it is to see the windows, though always obscured by the wire mesh that makes up the top 10 feet of the 20 foot fence. But of course the further away you get the smaller the windows appear – or the longer the focal length you need to show them at a sensible size.

The 300 mm end of the 70-300mm is long enough for the job, though a little extra magnification would be welcome. Depth of field at 300 mm is pretty lacking and because of the grid of the fence, autofocus tends to get it wrong – and almost all of my pictures of the windows are taken using manual focus.

The message on the T-shirt is hard to read as parts are obscured by the folds in the material, But it seems to say ‘WE ARE EU NATIONAL AND THEY KEEP US FOR 1 ??? IN THIS PLACE FOR SHOP LIFTING’ and stuck on the windows are the messages ‘WE NEED HELP – 1 Year ???’ , SHUT DOWN YARLS WOOD’ and ‘THANK YOU’. A longer lens and a faster lens might have helped to read them more clearly. Messages at the other windows were simpler and more direct. Some just said ‘HELP’, while others simply waved with their arms through the narrow slit that the windows open.

As usual there were a few smoke flares to add interest, though rushing up to the top of the hill where they were being let off was a slippery business and I was a little late getting there.

The rain sometimes eased off and sometimes got heavier, but kept on. On a firm surface I would have thought about getting out my umbrella, but I neede a hand for balance and couldn’t spare one to keep the rian off. After photographing for a couple of hours my lenses were beginning to steam up, diffusing the images and I gave up taking pictures.

It did mean I could take my time wandering back to the coach, and I took a little walk further along the public footpath to try – without success – to get a better view of the prison, before going back to take my seat. Fortunately it wasn’t too long before the others arrived and the coach was ready for the return journey back to Bedford, fortunately this time direct and without a hitch.

Shut Down Yarl’s Wood

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No More Benefit Deaths!

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

The ‘Rights Not Games‘ week of actions to highlight the cuts are causing to the disabled to coincide with the Rio Paralympics continued on the Wednesday around Westminster, with DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts), MHRN (Mental Health Resistance Network) and others taking part.

This was the day the Paralympics began in RIO, and the day started with a ‘banner drop’ on the bank of the Thames directly opposite the Houses of Parliament. The banner was impressively long and read ‘No More Benefit Deaths #DPAC’, calling for the need for human rights for all disabled people and an end to the disastrous sanctions regime which has led to many deaths.

I’m not a great fan of banner drops, though they do sometimes catch the headlines, though mostly when they are actually on iconic buildings rather than on the river wall. Generally they don’t make for interesting photographs, though perhaps their simplicity appeals to newspaper editors.

I began photographing the banner being got ready on the embankment opposite Parliament, then rushed along and up the steps on to Westminster Bridge. At first I joined the DPAC activists who were watching from the bridge – as you can see at Giant Banner ‘No More Benefit Deaths where the wide-angle views give a better impression of what the banner really looked like, then rushed further on across the bridge to take pictures from something closer to the view the MPs and guests would have got.

Or at least what they would have got had they come with binoculars, as to really see the banner well and almost fill the frame horizontally needed the 200mm end of my 28-200mm in DX mode – 300mm equiv.

The second problem for photographers is aspect ratio. The banner is roughly ten times as long as it it tall, and so a picture with an aspect ratio of around 1.5:1 includes rather a lot more. Of course you need more to situate and give context, but in this case that wasn’t particularly interesting subject matter.

From the bridge the I moved on to Downing St, where a rally with speeches had begun earlier and provided opportunities more to my liking, of the speakers and the audience. I’d covered the banner drop at the request of the event organisers, but this was more to my liking.

At the end of the rally there was a funeral procession down towards Parliament, which, rather surprisingly for DPAC stayed on the pavement on its way down Whitehall and Parliament St, watched by a rather large contingent of police.

But on reaching Bridge St, the procession took to the road and despite police objections made its way on to Westminster Bridge and blocked it to traffic.

The police began to get frustrated and to take it out on all of us who were present and not obviously disabled. Arresting people in wheelchairs is difficult – it looks bad in the pictures and they also need to bring in specialised transport.

I was threatened with arrest for obstruction of the highway several times for standing on the road to take pictures – on a section of road that was completely blocked by lines of police at both ends of the protest. I showed my press card and was told to “get off the effing road or you are under arrest!” I moved a few yards down the road to where the police were at least politer and kept taking pictures.

Two carers who refused to move away from the disabled people they were caring for were arrested and taken away – even though at least one of them was standing on the pavement next to the wheelchair which was on the road.

Finally, after most of the protesters had been forced off the road, Paul Peters of DPAC decided it was time to call an end to the action, an hour after they had begun to block the bridge.

Actions like this create some publicity for a cause which our national media have been extremely reluctant to take up, while more polite protest, even involving many thousands of people, goes unnoticed and unreported. It is through protests like this, and the discussions they prompt on-line and in the mass media that people more generally begin to realise the real effects of government cuts on the disabled.

When the Tories came to power in the coalition government in 201, Iain Duncan Smith at the Dept of Work & Pensions thought the disabled were a soft target for swingeing cuts – even though he and his department must have known that this would result in terrible hardship and deaths.

Giant Banner ‘No More Benefit Deaths
‘No More Benefit Deaths’ rally
DPAC block bridge over benefit deaths

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More Rights Not Games

Friday, May 26th, 2017

The Rights Not Games protest in the previous post was the start of a week of actions by DPAC and others protesting in the cuts in benefits for the disabled.

The following day I began outside the British Medical Association headquarters at Tavistock Square, where Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group were protesting. They want doctors to confront the government over medical evidence from GPs being dismissed by Maximus fitness for work assessors working for the DWP, almost all of whom lack appropriate medical knowledge, and also for the BMA to stop advising GPs to charge patients for the letters they need to take to Work Capability Assessments. More at BMA Work Fitness Assessments protest.

From Tavistock Square I traveled to Bromley South, on the south-east edge of London, for a Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC ) and Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) protest at Bromley Job Centre Plus, which was supported by Bromley Cuts Concern and local trade unionists.

Many benefit claimants have their benefits stopped for various lengths of time for arbitrary and often trivial reasons, and job centre employees often (if not always) have targets set to encourage them to implement these ‘benefit sanctions’.  If your bus or train to get to the job centre is late or canceled and you arrive a few minutes late, you will be sanctioned. If you argue a lot you can also be sanctioned. If your father dies and you try to re-arrange an appointment to attend his funeral, or you child is sick and needs taking to hospital, your request will probably be refused – and if you go to the funeral or hospital you will be sanctioned – and so on.

Bromley Job Centre Plus has the second highest record for sanctions of job centres in Greater London – over the last 2 year period for which figures were available, 7, 524 claimants lost their benefits for various periods of time – including many for the longest allowed period of 3 years.   Between 2010 and 2015, almost a quarter of claimants were sanctioned at least once. These sanctions leave people destitute and desperate, and have led to a number of deaths though starvation or suicide and are clearly incompatible with a civilised society.


Denise McKenna from the Mental Health Resistance Network holds up the letter to staff at Bromley Job Centre Plus

The National Audit Office has reported that the Dept of Work & Pensions has not done enough to find why some job centres – like Bromley – sanction a far greater percentage of clients than others, and has called for a fuller inquiry into the effects of sanctions – which according to The Guardian the NAO report shows to be an “ineffective and hugely damaging racket” by Iain Duncan Smith.

Denise McKenna from MHRN invites me to go in with her to deliver a letter to the Job Centre Plus staff explaining the reasons for the protest but I get asked to leave when I photograph her handing it over. I understand that managers at the centre did not allow other staff to see the letter.

As well as their terrible record over sanctions, a worker at the Bromley job centre recently rang a claimant and left a message on her answerphone, but failed to ring off, and also recorded there a conversation with a fellow job-centre worker about the claimant, in which she referred to her as “some scrounging bastard that’s popping out kids like pigs“. Several claimants and their friends stopped to join in the protest and to tell people about the disgraceful treatment they had received in the job centre.

DPAC at Bromley Job Centre

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Rights Not Games

Thursday, May 25th, 2017


Sophie Partridge, Penny Pepper and John Kelly outside Parliament

DPAC – Disabled People Against Cuts – always amaze me at their protests. If anyone doubts that people with disabilities have a great deal to offer society they should come and see how despite their problems they organise and run some of the most effective actions by any group, and this was one.

Of course many need some support to do so, and to live normal lives contributing to the community. And one of the cruelest acts of the government in recent years has been to remove much of that support, with the end of the Independent Living Fund. The ILF enabled so many to make a real contribution.

The Paralympic Games in London in 2012 made many realise the potential of a relatively small group of disabled people who have much to offer in the sporting field, but only a tiny proportion of the disabled have the wish or ability to succeed in sport. Others have talents in other areas but will only be able to develop and make use of these given the kind of support that the ILF provided. This protest was planned to coincide with the Rio Paralympics and to make the point that what the great majority of disabled people need is disabled rights, not games. Being disabled isn’t a game.

I don’t like to call these people disabled. In some ways many of them are rather more able in their particular fields than I would ever be, able in some areas to compete fully with those without disabilities.


Paula Peters leads the march to Downing St

DPAC had been in Parliament to lobby MPs on the publication of the report by Inclusion London ‘One Year ON’, evaluating the disastrous effects of cutting care and support funding for personal assistance following the closure of the Independent Living Fund in 2015.

They gathered on the pavement outside before marching up Parliament St and Whitehall to stage a ‘Pop-Up’ Street theatre performance on the roadway in front of the gates of Downing St, with poems, songs, spoken word and performances showcasing the creativity of disabled people and the contribution they can make to society with proper support.

Police attempted to get them to move off the road, but without success, though they did move to only block one of the two lanes – and police then directed traffic around them while the performance continued.

If I closed my eyes there would be nothing to tell me that these people were disabled as they performed, and of course there are many with disabilities, including several who spoke at the event, that have disabilities without any visible signs. As well as DPAC and Inclusion London, other groups supporting the protest included Winvisible, campaigning for women with visible and invisible disabilities and several mental health groups.

More at DPAC against cuts in care & support.
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Hull Photos: 11/5/17-17/5/17

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

11th May 2017

A little downstream from the Hull Exhaust Centre, visible at left was another viewpoint, I think from a derelict wharf on the River Hull. This image, looking upstream, shows barge Torch, with number 22, owned by Hull’s Gillyott and Scott, a major tug and lighter owner formed in 1964 by amalgamation of the five companies of William Gilyott, John A. Scott, T.F. Wood, Furleys and John Deheer. Gilyott and Scott (Transport) Ltd also owned lorries. The barges are said to have been sold to Dave Hornshaw of Hornshaw Water Transport in Goole.

The buildings on the East bank are some of those on the Morley Street ultramarine works, then still part of Reckitt’s – with Hull’s tallest chimney a little out of the frame to the right. Most or all have now been demolished.


32r13: River Hull from Bankside, 1982 – River Hull

12 May 2017

The street name ‘Park View’ was helpfully painted on the side of this row of small terraced houses off Sculcoates Lane, probably because the official street name had been on a house already demolished. This row of houses was built facing the Cottingham Drain – now culverted and presumably under the grassed strip to the right. The drain was built around 1770 and drains into the River Hull close to High Flags; it was culverted in the 1960s, and several sections including this one are now cycle paths.

The houses at right are the backs of buildings on terraces off Beverley Rd. The name Park View suggests that the houses in this row are older than those – as too does the fact that these are still standing. Though I was perhaps wishful thinking and I doubt that they will ever have had much of a view of Pearson Park, hidden behind the Dorchester Hotel (around that time owned by my wife’s cousin Billy) and other large buildings on the opposite side of Beverley Rd.

Wishful thinking too in the advertising hoarding, showing a very different and tropical scene to that in front of me when I made this picture, though like Bacardi Rum, Hull too has character all of its own. And XWJ633T is an excellent example of a ‘Woodie’ Morris Minor Traveller.


32r22: Park View and Cottingham Drain (culverted), 1982 – Beverley Rd

13th May 2017

Queen’s Terrace off Sculcoates Lane was about to be demolished, and one house was already empty and derelict, but the others were still mainly occupied. Like many other Hull streets, a series of short blind alleys – terraces – ran off at right angles to the street to enable the maximum utilisation of space, with houses on one or both sides.

Coming from the Beverley Rd, Sculcoates Lane turned sharp right immediately after crossing the Cottingham drain – culverted when I walked along it, but still noticeable as a wide grassed patch, then after a few yards the road turned back to the left (while a row of houses, Park View, continued facing the drain. A few yards along the road, first came Mary Ann’s Terrace, then Queen’s Terrace, followed by Walter’s Terrace. Finding terraces was often difficult, as for some reason the street plans didn’t include their names. There were also several Queen’s Terrace in different streets across Hull. This one was immediately to the east of ‘The Wood Shop’ at 24-28 Sculcoates Lane.

Some of the houses in the area were already demolished, and the rest seemed likely to go in the very near future. There was a small shop at the start of Queen’s Terrace, though I think it may have been 30 Sculcoates Lane, despite the street name on it, then a few houses. The shop, described in earlier directories as a beer shop, was an off-licence, and while licensed to sell beers, wines and spirits also sold ice cream, sweets etc, and I think I may have occasionally called in for a Mars Bar or a can of 7 Up on my walks.


32r23: Shop on corner of Queen’s Terrace, Sculcoates Lane, 1982 – Beverley Rd

14th May 2017

A woman walks down Queens’s Terrace, off Sculcoates Lane. The 1948/9 Six Inch OS map shows a gap in the houses along the street here, as well as many other properties around also missing compared to pre-war maps, suggesting considerable bomb damage in the area. Kids growing up after the war in Hull had plenty of such informal playgrounds, often like this one with a wicket painted on the wall. I didn’t ask the woman, who I think had walked out of the open door at left, if she was ‘Angie’, the name also on the wall. The run of buildings on the right had side of the street appear to have been demolished some time after the war.

Although most Hull terraces are ‘blind’, often with just a brick wall separating them from a terrace off the next street, Queens Terrace always had an alley or tenfoot through into Tunis St (and on further to Exchange St.) The two houses at the right in Tunis St are I think still there, though somewhat altered, with the small bathroom windows replaced by ventilators.


32r24: Queen’s Terrace and Tunis St, Sculcoates Lane, 1982 – Beverley Rd

15 May 2017

The River Hull is out of sight between these two large objects that it amused me to join together in the picture. Reckitts had originally relied on imported ultramarine to use in their ‘Reckitt’s Blue’ washing additive, but began to make their own when it became difficult to get supplies because of the Austro-Prussian wars in the 1860s. In 1884 they built a large factory to make it in Morley St, making use of water from the RIver Hull and discharging some fairly noxious effluent back in exchange.

But the major pollutant was sulphur dioxide which was simply dispersed into the atmosphere through a chimney, perhaps the shorter one towards the right of the picture, making rain in Hull highly acidic. In the 1970s the company had a taller chimney built, at 141m Hull’s highest building by quite a margin, so that the pollution could then be carried across the North sea to kill the forests of North Germany. At the time it was the tallest structure in the world to be built by the continuous pouring of concrete, and high winds during the construction caused a few slight kinks (some say that a short strike by workers on the project also had the same effect.)

Shamefully it was only early in this century that the owners of the plant – by then Holliday Pigments – installed flue-gas desulphurisation plant. Having done so they then closed down the plant in 2007, transferring production to their more modern plant in France. Although no longer used for whitening whites in washing machines – Reckitt’s Blue went out in the 1950s, replaced by organic optical brighteners – ultramarine is still in demand for other purposes.

There is still a pipe bridge across Bankside, just to the north of the railway bridge, but it has a smaller diameter and the pipe curves down at the end. This was also present when I took this picture a little further to the north. There is now a gantry across the street in a similar position to protect the pipe against collisions with tall vehicles, and presumably the pipe is at the same or higher level than the Hull rail bridge, which protects it from traffic from the south. It is possible that this large pipe was a similar protection rather than an actual pipeline across the road.

32r25: Pipe bridge, Bankside and Reckitt’s Chimney, Morland St, 1982 – River Hull

16 May 2017

The Hull and Barnsley Railway’s Hull Bridge was built in 1884-5 and is a steel bowstring swing bridge which was Grade II listed in 1994. The company, its full name the Hull Barnsley & West Riding Junction Railway and Dock Company (HB&WRJR&DCo) never quite managed to reach Barnsley, but in 1885 it opened a new dock, the Alexandra Dock, in East Hull. To reach there, the line had to go over the River Hull, and to preserve navigation rights it had to be a swing bridge. The square brick building at left (also listed) houses the operating cabin, though I think the bridge seldom opens and if required to do so uses an auxiliary winch on a break-down truck brought in for the occasion rather than the original machinery, which was hydraulic, but powered by steam.

The River Hull Bridge was a smaller version of one over the Ouse near Drax on the H&BR which was dismantled in 1976 but the Hull bridge remains in use.

The railway was mainly for goods, with goods station at Alexandra Docks, Burleigh St, Sculcoates, Dairycoates and Neptune St. There were passenger stations on the Beverley Rd and at Cannon St to the north of the city centre, and industrial branches to National Radiator and the British Gas Light Company at Bankside.

The railway became a part of its competitor around Hull, the North Eastern Railway in 1922, and then was merged into the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1923. The following year passenger services from Cannon St ended, with a link allowing trains to run into Paragon Station.

In 2007, work began to increase the capacity of the line over Hull Bridge to the King George Dock with some of the line which had been converted to single track going back to double and new signalling, and the line was re-opened in 2008. The section of line over the bridge is still only single track. Since then further work has been carried out, including galvanising 15 tonnes of structural steel for the bridge. There are no passenger services on the line but significant goods traffic.

32r26: Hull swing railway bridge and River Hull from Bankside, 1982 – River Hull

17 May 2017

I think these two young boys were outside their house on Goddard Avenue, which certainly has some miniscule front gardens like these, though it could have been another street in the area. The display of toys was for sale and I think I may have bought a small lorry from their stock.

Roadside sales such as these were fairly common during the school holidays in Hull.

32r23: Pavement toy sale, Goddard Avenue area, 1982 – Springbank


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Vigil for Dalian at IPCC

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Although I always like to create a series of images that tell the story of any event, sometimes a single image seems to sum up everything, and at Justice for Dalian Atkinson at IPCC at the start of September, I felt this image did.

The placards make fairly clear what the protest was about, although they don’t mention the details of the particular case – Dalian Atkinson, a former Aston Villa, Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich striker dying after being tasered by police outside his father’s home in Telford on August 15th.

Also missing is any real indication that this protest is taking place outside the IPCC,  the body set up to investigate complaints against the police which many see as compromised with many of its staff being recent former police officers and having a miserable record in so many investigations.

Those who have been to the IPCC might recognise the distinctive foyer behind the figures, but this is an office block shared by a number of organisations, and the IPCC only gets a mention fairly small on the inside wall, virtually impossible to include in pictures.

But it is a background that has a powerful emotional effect, resembling a building going up in flames, bringing memories of images of uprisings such as that which followed the 2011 shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham. The image was made late in the day as light was failing, bringing out the effect of the interior lighting.

Of course it is very much a picture about attitudes, and how these are expressed in body language and facial expressions. It was a situation I saw the potential of and moved to get in what I hoped was the right place to photograph.  It might have been slightly better without the person whose denim jacket intrudes at the left but this isn’t a great problem.

I suspect I have slightly darkened that corner in post-processing to make him less obtrusive, though without going back to the RAW file I can’t be sure. There will also be other minor areas that needed some attention, for example to bring out more clearly the expressions on faces, and that white shirt on the police officer will almost certainly have appeared a little too bright. The camera doesn’t ever record the scene as I saw it, particularly when lighting varies across the subject as in this case.

Things get even worse of course when  you start using flash, but fortunately there was enough light to work without. The image was taken on a Nikon D700 with the 16-35mm lens at 19mm. Using ISO 1600 the exposure was 1/125 at f5.6.

Another picture from the same event adds some more detail about the protest, with a list of a few of the names of those who have died at the hands of the police, as well as a view of the interior of the foyer with a man sitting at the reception desk.

I’d hoped that the third image here would be stronger, but this was made with a much longer focal length – equivalent to 225mm, and at 1/125 f5.6 there wasn’t enough depth of field. It’s surprising given the fairly close focus distance that the lack of depth of field isn’t more apparent, and given the focal length I was fortunate to avoid camera shake. Adding contrast in Lightroom helped, as did increasing sharpness and clarity in some areas, but didn’t quite rescue it – and I think is just a little overdone.

Limited depth of field can also be a good thing, though generally I prefer images that are sharp all over – as my brain usually imagines the scene in front of my eyes. This was made with the 28-200mm lens wide open at 58mm (in DX more – so 87mm equivalent) which gives an aperture of f4.8 and creates (rather fortuitously) what seems to me a pretty ideal balance between the sharp foreground and the slightly soft background.

More pictures at Justice for Dalian Atkinson at IPCC.
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UberEats Under Pays

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

I rushed to get to the address I’d been given on time for the protest by UberEats delivery drivers, but arrived to find nobody there on Bermondsey St but two photographers I know who were wondering if they’d come to the right place. Eventually one or two protesters arrived but there was still no sign of the Uber riders. I walked into the yard where the Uber offices were and the security standing around outside there told us that the protest had been called off.

Of course I didn’t believe them. There wouldn’t be security hanging around in the yard unless there was going to be a protest.

Fortunately for once my phone still had some charge and I was able to find a video of them setting out from somewhere near Aldgate, and so we waited and waited and eventually saw the peloton coming around the corner from Tanner St.

Most of those taking part were delivery drivers, but there were also some supporters on bicycles, including a few I recognised. The drivers were being supported by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain – Couriers and Logistics branch, and also getting advice from other unions that are leading the fight against bogus self-employment and the ‘gig economy’.

Uber changed the way it pays drivers, having at first offered enough to make a living to entice people to come and work for it. Now the payment has changed, and drivers say they are working for as little as £3.22 per hour, less than half the minimum wage – and they have to provide and maintain the bikes they ride and pay insurance and  petrol.

Imran was one of the first to publicly complain about the terms, and he holds up his phone to show that his access to the Uber App which is how drivers get work has been blocked – effectively sacking him.

The drivers wanted to speak to the management but were not allowed into the office to do so. Eventually Uber agreed to let a small delegation in, and the drivers held a show of hands to do so. But when the small group went inside they found the managers were not prepared to speak to them as a group but wanted to pick on them one by one, and they walked out.

One picture that I missed was of one of the managers leaning out of the window and giving a sign to the drivers with his middle finer. He quickly moved inside when he saw he was being photographed and my picture was too blurred to be usable. A shame as I think it would have summed up perfectly the management attitude.

I left as the drivers were beginning to move off in small groups to picket outside some of the clients where other Uber drivers would be picking up orders across the evening, hoping to persuade the riders who came for them to join the strike – and join the union.

Uber’s contention that these riders are self-employed seems unlikely to be upheld in the courts, rather simply seen as a way for the company to evade its duties as an employer. They should be on a payroll, with national insurance contributions, pensions and proper rights as workers. And while there is a case for flexible contracts, these need to ones that give workers a living wage for the hours they are available to Uber. Existing labour laws may cover this, but if the courts fail to clarify this then new legislation is needed.

Uber is currently expanding its UberEats service to other UK cities, but the Financial Times recently reported it as having “a backlash from investors and employees” over “its ‘toxic’ culture, sexual harassment allegations and leadership issues2 and a legal battle over IP rights with Google.

More at UberEats couriers strike for Living Wage.
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