Posts Tagged ‘housing’

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop – 2016

Tuesday, May 14th, 2024

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop – I celebrated 14th May 2016 with a busy day of protests around London.


Reclaim Holloway

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop
Jeremy Corbyn

Islington Hands Off Our Public Services, Islington Kill the Housing Bill and the Reclaim Justice Network marched from rally on Holloway Road demanding that when Holloway prison is closed the site remains in public hands, and that the government replace the prison with council housing and the vital community services needed to prevent people being caught up in a damaging criminal justice system.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

The prison is in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency and the then Labour leader turned up on his bike to speak before the march to give his support.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

There was a long rally outside the prison with speeches by local councillors, trade unionists and campaigning groups.

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

Islington Council wanted to see the site used for social housing and in 2022 gave https://www.ahmm.co.uk/projects/masterplanning/holloway/ planning permission for a development by Peabody, who bought the site in 2019 with help from the GLA, and London Square for 985 new homes. 60% of these will be affordable, including 415 for social rent, together with a 1.4-acre public park, a Women’s Building, and new commercial spaces.

Reclaim Holloway


68th Anniversary Nabka Day – Oxford St

Holloway, Nabja, Vegans, Refugees & Topshop

A rolling protest outside shops which support the Israeli state made its way along Oxford St from Marks and Spencers, with speakers detailing the continuing oppression of the Palestinian people, and opposing attempts to criminalise and censor the anti-Zionist boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement.

It came on the day before Nabka Day, the anniversary of the ‘day of the catastrophe’ which commemorates when around 80% of Palestinians were forced to leave their homes between December 1947 and January 1949, and later prevented by Israeli law from returning to their homes, or claiming their property.

The protesters included both Palestinians and Jews opposed to the continuing oppression of the Palestinians by the Israeli government. They were met by a small group of people holding Israeli flags who stood in their way and shouted insults, accusing them of anti-Semitism.

The organisers were clear that the protest was not anti-Semitic but against Zionism and some actions of the Israeli government. Both police and protesters tried hard to avoid confrontation with those who had clearly come to disrupt and provoke.

Many UK businesses play an important part in supporting the Israeli government by selling Israeli goods and those produced in the occupied territories and in other ways, and their were brief speeches as the protest halted outside some of them detailing some of these links.

More on My London Diary at 68th Anniversary Nabka Day.

This Saturday, 18th May 2024, you can join the march in London, starting at the BBC on the 76th anniversary of the Nabka calling for an end to the current genocide in Gaza.


Vegan Earthlings Masked Video Protest – Trafalgar Square

Vegans in white masks from London Vegan Actions were standing in a large circle on the North Terrace of Trafalgar Square, some holding laptops or tables showing a film about the mistreatment of animals in food production, bullfighting, etc. Although bright sun made the laptop screens almost impossible to see and the sound outdoors was largely inaudible the large circle of people standing in white masks did attract attention.

More pictures Vegan Earthlings masked video protest.


Refugees Welcome say protesters – Trafalgar Square

Also protesting in front of the National Gallery were a small group holding posters calling for human rights, fair treatment and support for refugees. Some held a banner with the message ‘free movement for People Not Weapons‘.

More pictures Refugees Welcome say protesters.


Topshop protest after cleaners sacked – Oxford St

After Topshop suspended two cleaners who were members of the United Voices of the World trade union for protesting for a living wage and sacked one of them protests were taking place outside their stores around the country.

The UVW were supported by others at the London protest which began outside Topshop on Oxford Street by others including trade unionists from the CAIWU and Ian Hodson, General Secretary of the BWAFU as well as then Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Class War.

A large crowd of police and extra illegal security guards wearing no ID blocked the entrance to the shop stopping both protesters and customers from entering. The several hundred protesters held up placards and banners and protested noisily but made no serious attempt to go in to the store.

A man wears a mask of Topshop owner Phillip Green

Some protesters, led by the Class War ‘Womens Death Brigade’ moved onto the road, blocking it for some minutes before the whole group of protesters marched to block the Oxford Circus junction for some minutes until a large group of police arrived and fairly gently persuade them to move.

They stopped outside John Lewis, another major store in a long-running dispute with the union as it allowed its cleaning contractor to pay its cleaners low wages, with poor conditions of service and poor management, disclaiming any responsibility for workers who keep its stores running.

The protest there was again noisy and there were some heated verbal exchanges between protesters and police, but I saw no arrests. After a few minutes the protesters marched off to continue their protest outside another Oxford Street Topshop branch close to Marble Arch.

More at Topshop protest after cleaners sacked.


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British Gas & Independent Living – 2014

Sunday, May 12th, 2024

British Gas & Independent Living: Two protests on Monday 12th May 2014 in Westminster. the first about fuel poverty and climate change and the second over plans to end the Independent Living Fund which enabled many disabled people to continue to work and have an independent life.


Bin British Gas – QEII Centre, Westminster

British Gas & Independent Living

British Gas were holding their AGM in the QEII centre and a protest outside demanded they stop profiteering from high energy prices and end support for fracking.

British Gas & Independent Living

The protest was called by Fuel Poverty Action who say there were over 10,000 extra deaths last winter because people were unable to heat their homes, while Centrica, the parent company of British Gas, made £2.5 billion in 2013. While they raised gas prices by 10.4% and electricity by 8.4%.

British Gas & Independent Living

They also called for government and energy companies to end support for fracking which as well as threatening water supplies in the UK would also lead to more climate-wrecking carbon dioxide emissions.

British Gas & Independent Living

The campaigners called for greater investment in renewable energy, which in the long term will result in cheaper energy and will help us tackle climate change. But this isn’t popular with the big six energy companies (and the government which is led by their lobbyists) as it enables greater local generation and control of energy, threatening their monopoly of energy production and profits.

At the protest were representatives from fuel poverty, pensioner, climate, housing groups and renewable energy co-operatives. After a number of speeches including from Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, Paula Peters of Disabled People Against Cuts, people came together too tear up British Gas energy bills.

A giant bill was torn up and Lambeth pensioner, Ellen Lebethe, brought out a poster-size Fuel Poverty Action ‘Energy Bill of Rights.’

  • We all have the right to affordable energy to meet our basic needs.
  • We all have the right to energy that does not harm us, the environment, or the climate.
  • We all have the right to energy that does not threaten health, safety, water, air, or the local environment of a community.
  • We all have the right to a fair energy pricing that does not penalise those who use less.
  • We all have the right not to be cut off from energy supply.
  • We all have the right not to be forced to have a prepayment meter.
  • We all have the right to energy that is owned by us and run in our interests.

Inside the Centrica AGM, a member of Reclaim Shakespeare Company had stood up holding a can of beans and a skull to read a version of Hamlet’s iconic monologue, entitled “To Heat or Eat, that is the question”, and this was read out at the protest. Shortly after the actor came out from the building to tell us about what had happened inside.

The protest ended with people planting 100 small windmills made from folded British Gas bills in the grass outside the QEII centre.

More pictures at Bin British Gas.


Save Independent Living Fund – Dept of Work & Pensions

The Independent Living Fund (ILF) was set up in 1988 under the Thatcher government to provided financial support to some of the most severely disabled people in the UK. Its main use was to enable them to have carers and personal assistants so they could live in their communities and for many to continue in useful employment.

The ILF was administered by a separately funded body and was highly cost-effective, providing support at much lower costs than residential care as well as enabling those receiving support to live independent lives Around 18,000 people were being assisted by the fund in 2014.

When the government announced it was scrapping the scheme in England in 2010 it was met with protests by disabled people and in 2013 was taken to court. The government won the case that its decision was lawful, but lost in the Court of Appeal.

A revised proposal was then made by the government to announce once again in March 2014 that ILF would close. A fresh legal challenge failed in December 2014 and the scheme ended in June 2015, with responsibility for supporting disabled people being passed to local authorities who were given funding roughly 12% less than the ILF – and which was not ring-fenced.

Police tried to persuade the protesters to keep to a small area well to one side of the Dept of Work & Pensions but they refused and protested in a larger space in front of the two main doors, which were both locked for the event.

At the centre of the protest was a small cage, with the message ‘NO ILF – NO LIFE‘ across its top, and below the barred window ‘Without Support We Become Prisoners In Our Own Homes – Save the Independent Living Fund’. Squeezed into this was Paula Peters of DPAC, Disabled People Against Cuts, the group who had organised the protest.

A number of people told their ‘ILF stories‘ of how the fund had helped them and how they feared its closure would seriously limit their lives. DPAC tried to deliver a letter to Minister for the Disabled Mike Penning but were refused entry to the building and no one from the department was prepared to come and receive it.

One of the protesters who had travelled from Newcastle phoned her MP from here wheelchair outside the DWP, and Mary Glindon, the Labour MP for North Tyneside came down to support the protest. She failed to get DWP security to let the protesters deliver their letter but offered to deliver it for them. She was let in through a side entrance to do so then came out and spoke briefly giving her support to the protest.

More at Save Independent Living Fund.


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March For Homes – 2015

Wednesday, January 31st, 2024

March For Homes: St Leonard’s Church to City Hall

Defend Council Housing, South London People’s Assembly and Unite Housing Workers Branch had called for a march to draw attention to the crisis in housing, particularly in London where council housing lists are huge and many councils are failing to meet their legal requirements to rehouse homeless families.

March For Homes

These requirements generally do not extend to single homeless people and in London alone over 6,500 people had slept rough at some time in the previous year with around one in twelve of 16-24 year-olds having been homeless at some point. Government figures comprehensively and deliberately underestimate the numbers.

March For Homes

It isn’t really a housing crisis, but a crisis of affordable housing. There are more than enough empty properties to house the homeless, but those who need housing are unable to afford the high rents or house prices being asked.

March For Homes

There has been a huge surge in building high-rise properties in London, with whole areas like Battersea and Nine Elms as well as elsewhere across inner and outer London being increasingly filled with them, but almost all are high-price properties, many sold overseas before the buildings are completed not as homes but as investments. Others are low specification student housing and also do nothing for the housing crisis.

March For Homes

What is needed is a crash programme of housing at social rents for family units of all sizes. Developers have become adept at evading what laws there are about providing social housing in new developments, fiddling the books to claim they cannot make sufficient profits which ridiculously lets them off the hook.

Much of the UK problems over housing go back to the Thatcher administration which both sold off council housing piecemeal under ‘right to buy’ but also stopped councils replacing what they had lost.

In earlier years both Tory and Labour councils had built generally high quality low cost housing though of course there were some examples of poor planning (often when councils were forced to cut costs) and shoddy work as well as unfortunate government encouragement of high-rise system building, which many of us were campaigning against in the 60’s and 70s.

But perhaps even more importantly under Tory administrations council housing became something just for what they regarded as ‘feckless’ and the ‘dregs of society’, those unable to fend for themselves. We got this ridiculous concept of the ‘housing ladder’ and very much it is a ladder that expresses “pull up the ladder, Jack. We’re alright“.

Municipal housing can provide housing for all at low cost and provided a rational approaching to providing decent housing for all, getting away from the poor conditions and high cost of private rented housing at much lower cost than owner occupation.

The March for Homes on Saturday 31st January was actually two marches, one from the Elephant in South London and the other from East London which I photographed at Shoreditch, calling for more social housing and an end to estate demolition and evictions. On My London Diary at March for Homes: Shoreditch Rally I published a very long list of some of the various groups which supported the march, as well as some of the speakers at the rally there. Eventually the march set off on its way towards City Hall, making its way towards Tower Bridge.

Class War left the march briefly to protest as it went past One Commercial St, where they had been holding a long series of weekly ‘Poor Doors’ protests against the separate door down a side alley for the social housing tenants in the block. They had briefly suspended the protests a few weeks early when new owner for the building had offered talks about the situation, but these had broken down.

Approaching the Tower of London the protest was joined by Russell Brand riding a bicycle. He had earlier lent support to a number of housing campaigns by residents in estates threatened by evictions.

By the time the march was going across Tower Bridge Class War had rejoined it, and their banners were in the lead.

The march was met on the other side of Tower Bridge by the South London March for Homes, a similar sized protest called by Defend Council Housing and South London People’s Assembly which had started at the Elephant, marching past the former Heygate Estate. The two marches merged to walk on to Potters Fields for the rally outside City Hall.

We had been marching most of the day in light rain, and this got rather heavier for the rally outside City Hall. Together with a large crowd being jammed into a fairly small space it made photography of the rally difficult.

While the rally was still continuing some of the protesters began to leave Potters Fields to protest more actively, led by Class War and other anarchit groups and accompanied by the samba band Rhythms of Revolution.

They moved onto Tooley Street and blocked it for a few minutes, then decided to move off, with police reinforcements who had arrived than taking over their role of blocking the road as the protesters moved off eastwards.

I watched them go, and later heard that after a brief protest at One Tower Bridge, a new development mainly for the over-rich next to Tower Bridge they had taken a long walk to join occupiers on Southwark’s Aylesbury Estate.

But I was cold, wet and tired, and my cameras too, having been exposed to the weather for several hours were becoming temperamental and I waited for a bus to start my journey home.

Much more on My London Diary:
March for Homes: After the Rally
March for Homes: City Hall Rally
March for Homes: Poor Doors
March for Homes: Shoreditch to City Hall
March for Homes: Shoreditch Rally


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All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall.
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Goodbye & Good Riddance – July & August 2023

Thursday, January 4th, 2024

Goodbye & Good Riddance – July & August 2023: Some more pictures from my Facebook albums for last year.

Goodbye & Good Riddance - July & August 2023
Ealing Celebrates 75 Years Of The NHS. 1 July 2023.
Eve Turner, Ealing Save Our NHS, leads some singing. Campaigners from Ealing Save Our NHS celebrated 75 years of the NHS on the side of the main road in front of Ealing Hospital. Speakers called for a proper workforce plan, pointing out the failure of the recent government plan to recognise the realities of an overworked and underpaid system which has been deliberately run into the ground as a pretext for privatisation.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance - July & August 2023
Housing For Need Not Greed – March to the Aylesbury Estate, Southwark. 8 July 2023.
Marchers at the Elephant on their way to the Aylesbury Estate. This was one of 16 events across the country on National Housing Day. It demanded Southwark Council stop demolishing council homes and refurbish and repopulate estates to house people and end the huge carbon footprint of demolish and rebuild. They demanded housing for need not corporate greed, refurbishment not demolition, filling of empty homes and an end to the leasehold system.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance - July & August 2023
London Trans+ Pride March. 8 July 2023.
Many thousands of Trans+ and gender-diverse siblings and supporters meet in a wet Trafalgar Square and march to a rally at Hyde Park Corner in a day of trans, intersex, non-binary and gender nonconformity joy, rage and liberation in defiance of the attacks on their community and lives. The ‘Never March Alone’ day called for transgender freedom and equality in the UK and globally and honoured the memory of those killed for being trans.
Peter Marshall
Goodbye & Good Riddance - July & August 2023
Speak Out Against British State Racism, Hammersmith. 15 July 2023.
Protesters from the RCG in Hammersmith against the Illegal Migration Bill hand out leaflets and collect petition signatures saying the bill is racist, scapegoating and criminalising migrants and asylum seekers, denying them their basic human rights. The government claims it is compassionate but shows no compassion, intending to imprison migrants regardless and deport them to Rwanda while failing to address the causes of migration.
Peter Marshall
Save Democracy in Israel, London UK. 30 July 2023.
A large rally in Parliament Square organised by members of the British Jewish community sends a message to the Israeli government rejecting their actions and supporting those protesting for the future of their country and children in Israel after the Knesset this week voted to abolish the Reasonableness Doctrine. They call on all who love and care about Israel’s future to defend Israeli democracy.
Peter Marshall
No To Nuclear War Embassy Walk, London. 4 Aug 2023.
Handing in a letter for the French Ambassador. Campaigners from France and Germany en route to the International Hiroshima-Nagasaki International Fast join British anti-nuclear activists in an “Embassy Walk” to the Russian, French, German Embassies and Downing Street calling on them to sign the UN Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and get rid of their nuclear weapons. There were performances by Raised Voices choir.
Peter Marshall
London CND Hiroshima Day Commemoration. 6 Aug 2023.
Jeremy Corbyn MP holds up and reads from a mug commemorating peace campaigner Bruce Kent. 78 years after the US exploded atomic bombs at the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagaski, London CND met at the Hiroshima Cherry tree in Tavistock Square to remember the over 350,000 people killed immediately or who died from the bombing in the next few months. Speakers called on the UK government to abandon nuclear weapons and sign the UN treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.
Peter Marshall
No To NATO No To War Rally. 6 Aug 2023.
A rally at Downing Street demanded Britain leave NATO and end support for its continuing proxy war in Ukraine. Speakers including journalists Tony Gosling and Patrick Henningsen, lecturer Niall McCrae and former British Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford outlined and gave evidence of its anti-Russsian activities since its inception, with Piers Corbyn ending his speech with climate denial, homophobia and ULEZ opposition.
Peter Marshall.

There were relatively few protests in August as many people were on holiday – and I spent some time away from London and protests.


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Clapham Road and South Lambeth – 1989

Monday, October 30th, 2023

Clapham Road and South Lambeth continues my walk on Wednesday 19th July 1989 in Stockwell and South Lambeth which began with Stockwell Park, Bus Garage, Tower and Mason. The previous post was Meadows, Tate Library & Albert Square.

Works, Clapham Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-64
Works, Clapham Rd, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-64

I walked southeast out of Albert Square past the plain brick 1960’s Regency Court block of flats which replaced the damaged No 37 – the only attempt this makes to fit in with the square is to keep to the same roof line but otherwise it stands out as a drab sore thumb – I think a good modern building would have been preferable to dull mediocre. A wide avenue with some trees lining it leads to Clapham Road.

There was no gap between this typically 1930s building immediately to the north of Sir Joseph Causton’s large Printworks building and it may have been a later part of the works or a separate small factory. At its north side it joined a house, still standing. This building has been completely removed, and the space is now a road, Lett Rd, next to the Printworks which has been converted into flats and retail. The left section of the building has been replaced by a recent residential block along Lett Rd.

The Printworks was built in 1903 and Causton’s were one of the largest printing companies, making labels for various products including Marmite and Guiness, stationery and objects including brewery pub trays. During the First World War they printed many propaganda posters and those encouraging war savings. They moved to Eastleigh, Hants in 1936 and the plant was sold to the catalogue company Freemans Ltd in 1937. The company was taken over in 1984 but the name is still used for Causton Envelopes and Causton Cartons, part of the Bowater Group.

Housing, Liberty St, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-66
Housing, Liberty St, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-66

Liberty Street runs from Caldwell Street down to Durand Street behind the Printworks. It was one of the last part of the area to be developed and when these 54 flats were built as Wyke Mansions close to Caldwell Street in 1902 they faced the works across an open field. According to the Oval History site this was later built on by Freeman’s for warehousing after they took over the Printworks. Some of those buildings were demolished in 1996 to build Bakery Close and the rest demolished in 2008 by Gaillard who converted the site into modern flats. But these mansions remain. There appears to be no record of why the street was named Liberty St.

House, Garden, Brixton Rd, Angell Town, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-55
House, Garden, Brixton Rd, Angell Town, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-55

I walked along Caldwell Street to Hackford Road, then down there to Southey Road and on to Brixton Road. I think this remarkable garden of thistles which would have even sent the pessimistic and depressed Eeyore into ecstacy was at 130 Brixton Road, part of the Vassall estate let to Henry Richard Vassall, third Baron Holland. He gave building plots on 80 year leases to builders and speculators in a piecemeal fashion which probably accounts for the stuccoed No 130 adjoining the brick 132. There are brief descriptions of the houses along the road on the Survey of London.

These houses are on the west side of Brixton Road and the River Effra ran on the east side, but was put underground around 1880 and still runs there. But the buildings on that side are set well back from the road.

The Co-op Centre, 11 Mowll St, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-45
The Co-op Centre, 11 Mowll St, Stockwell, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-45

The Co-op Centre was built in 1898 for as a hall for Christ Church, Brixton Rd and used for worship until the church was completed in 1902. Lambeth Co-op Centre became Mowll St Business Centre in 2016. Until the late 1930s the street was named Chapel St, but was renamed to avoid confusion with other Chapel Streets in London after the Rev William Rutley Mowll, the first vicar of Christ Church on the corner of the street.

Doorway, Kinki-Bee Characters, 46 Wilkinson St, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-33
Doorway, Kinki-Bee Characters, 46 Wilkinson St, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-33

Kinki-Bee Characters was in the locally listed Venetian gothic former Stockwell and North Brixton Dispensary on the corner of Wilkinson Street and Bolney Street, South Lambeth built in 1866 to provide medical and surgical advice, medicine, and attendance. The charity was only removed from the Charity Commisions listing in 1997. In 1920 it stated its aims as providing ‘MEDICAL AND SURGICAL AID TO THE SICK CHILDREN OF POOR PERSONS RESIDENT IN THE PARISHES CHRIST CHURCH, NORTH BRIXTON; ST. MICHAEL, STOCKWELL; ST. ANDREW, STOCKWELL; ST. ANN, SOUTH LAMBETH; ST. BARNABAS, SOUTH KENNINGTON; ST STEPHEN, SOUTH LAMBETH; AND ALL SAINTS, SOUTH LAMBETH.’ The plaque on the house was restored in 2012.

Kinki-Bee Characters Limited was set up around 1952 and sold hand-painted dolls and ornaments, bottle stoppers/pourers etc as collectors items. You can still find them on eBay and other web sites. A placard inside the window has the message ‘CHILDREN WANT REAL MOTHERS NOT MADE OF STONE’.

Tradescant sculpture, St Stephen's Church, Wilkinson St, St Stephen's Terrace, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-21
Tradescant sculpture, St Stephen’s Church, Wilkinson St, St Stephen’s Terrace, South Lambeth, Lambeth, 1989 89-7f-21

The Tradescant sculpture by Hilary Cartmel was funded by the local residents’ association and unveiled by naturalist David Bellamy in 1988 and is a memorial to the Tradescant family. John Tradescant, father and son, were 17th century nurserymen and collectors of plants from around the world based in Lambeth.

The sculpture stands on the pavement in front of St Stephen’s Church, built in 1967 to replace the large Victorian building of 1861, built to seat 1,200, which was demolished. The 1967 building has since been modified to replace its narrow slit windows with larger ones. But my back was to this rather plain brick building when I took this picture, and in the background is the rather fine dispensary building from 1866 on the corner of Wilkinson St and Bolney St.

To be continued.


Hospitals, Muslims and Housing

Friday, October 6th, 2023

Hospitals, Muslims and Housing: On Saturday 6th of October 2012 I went to Shepherds Bush for a march against hospital closure, then on to Westminster for a protest against Muslim gangs and a much larger protest by Muslims against an anti-Muslim film, finally to Kilburn for a rally calling for Brent council to rehouse a homeless family.


Save Our Hospitals – Shepherds Bush

Hospitals, Muslims and Housing

Residents of West London who were furious at proposals to close Accident and Emergency services at four of the nine hospitals in their area met at Shepherds Bush to march though Hammersmith and past Charing Cross Hospital on the Fulham Palace Road to a rally at Lillie Road recreation ground.

Hospitals, Muslims and Housing

Under the proposals, Charing Cross Hospital in Hammersmith would lose nine of the 11 major types of service currently provided on-site, including the A&E, becoming a ‘local hospital’, while Hammersmith Hospital would be only a specialist unit.

Hospitals, Muslims and Housing

A&E would only remain at Chelsea and Westminster, St Mary’s Paddington, Northwick Park, West Middlesex and Hillingdon, all five involving slow journeys over congested roads from much of the area.

Hospitals, Muslims and Housing

As well as this march there had also been earlier marches against the plans in Harlesden and in Southall and Action. As a result of the huge public campaign then Health Minister Jeremy Hunt reprieved the A&E services at Charing Cross and Ealing, but closures went ahead at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex.

Save Our Hospitals – Shepherds Bush.


Britain First – Muslim Grooming – Westminster

A small group met at Downing St to protest against grooming and abuse of young girls by Muslim gangs, and the failure of police to properly investigate them; it was led by the extreme-right racist group Britain First.

The protest has been backed by other extreme-right groups including the English Defence League and among those taking part was Paul Pitt (Paul Prodromou) then the chairman of the South East Alliance after having been thrown out of the EDL for his association with openly racist organisations including the National Front and BNP.

In 2012 there had been high-profile cases in areas such as Rochdale which have high Parkistani populations, and the media coverage of these had produced a distorted impression that grooming gangs were largely Muslim men.

A Home Office investigation on grooming hangs published in 2020 concluded there was not enough evidence to conclude that child sexual abuse gangs were disproportionately made up of Asian offenders, stating “Research has found that group-based child sexual exploitation offenders are most commonly white“.

The small group of protesters marched to Parliament Square where they tried with little success to burn an Islamic flag, ending up by hitting it with a shoe instead.

I left them as they returned to Downing Street and went to join a much larger Muslim protest in Old Palace Yard.

More pictures at Britain First – Muslim Grooming.


Muslims against Anti-Muslim Film – Old Palace Yard, Westminster

Thousands of Muslims packed Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament in a peaceful protest against an made in the USA. They called for laws to protect religious figures.

The film was a short video by Egyptian-born Mark Basseley Youssef (aka Nakoula Basseley Nakoula) which has prompted violent anti-American protests in various Muslim countries. Youssef was then in jail in Los Angeles as he made the film in breach of a probation order banning him from using aliases following a conviction for a bank fraud in 2010. He was later sentenced to one year in prison and four years of supervised release. He had falsely claimed the video had been funded by $5 million collected from 100 Jewish donors, and that he himself was an Israeli Jew.

In the hour I was there only one of the speeches was in English, but many of the placards were, and ‘Stop Hurting Muslims’, ‘Freedom of Speech is Not Freedom to Abuse’, ‘The Prophet is Dearer to us than our lives’, ‘Stop Islamophobia’ were clear.

As with many Muslim events this was segregated, with women being relegated to a small area in the background where they could see little of what was happening, although they could hear the speeches. All the speakers while I was there were men.

Muslims against Anti-Muslim Film.


Rehouse the Counihans – Kilburn

I took the Underground from Westminster to Kilburn where people were meeting for a march and rally demanding that Brent council rehouse the Counihan family.

Anthony Counihan with a young son.

Back in 2007 the family had moved from council property in Kilburn to Galway to look after Anthony Counihan’s sick father. Council officials had failed to advise him he could sublet the tenancy and instead he signed away the lease.

They returned to Brent so Anthony could take up his job as a London bus driver again when his father died. Anthony inherited 9.5 acres of land in Galway with a shack on it which brings in £18 a week in rent and when he reported this to the council they responded with an eviction order and a demand for repayment of £70,000 of housing benefit.

One council official advised the family to move back to Ireland, at the same time advising Anthony to hang on to his job as a bus driver out of the Cricklewood depot as jobs were hard to find, suggesting he should commute from Galway!

You can read more about this case in the post on My London Diary, where I comment that it “has revealed an astonishing level of both incompetence and lack of humanity among both officers and councillors in Brent Council, and some have made highly misleading or factually incorrect comments in public.

Isabel Counihan Sanchez

The campaigners accuse the council of “behaving vindictively, dishonestly, and punitively towards local residents” and around a hundred came to the rally in Kilburn before marching around South Kilburn to a rally in the South Kilburn Estate, which was addressed by Isabel Counihan-Sanchez with one of her daughters and speakers representing various groups supporting the family, including trade unionists, local residents and representatives of various groups including the Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group.

On the route the march stopped outside the flat which had been the home of Nygel Firminger. Harassed by Kilburn jobcentre after had various problems at work, including 3 months for which he did not get paid and a work head injury he was evicted from the flat without his medicines. Later in the day he got back into the where he was later found dead.

More on My London Diary at Rehouse the Counihans.


Housing For Need Not Greed

Thursday, July 13th, 2023

Housing For Need Not Greed: Mostly my posts here look at old work, either from a few years ago or my work on London back in the 1980s and 90s. But I’m still goining out at taking pctures if not quite as often as I once did. So this post is about one of the two events I photographed last weekend.

Housing For Need Not Greed - Aysen Dennis - Fight4Aylesbur
Aysen Dennis – Fight4Aylesbury

Last Saturday, 8th July 2023 was National Housing Action Day, and a march from the Elephant to the Aylesbury Estate was one of 16 across the country on National Housing Day. Others were taking place in Lambeth, Islington, Kensington, Cardiff, Glasgow, Abbey Wood, Wandsworth, Harlow, Merton, Ealing, Cornwall, Folkestone, Devon, Birmingham, and Hastings.

Housing For Need Not Greed -Tanya Murat - Southwark Defend Council Housing
Tanya Murat – Southwark Defend Council Housing

The Southwark protest demanded Southwark Council stop demolishing council homes and refurbish and repopulate estates to house people and end the huge carbon footprint of demolish and rebuild. They demanded housing for need not corporate greed, refurbishment not demolition, filling of empty homes and an end to the leasehold system.

Housing For Need Not Greed
Marchers at the Elephant on their way to the Aylesbury Estate

Demolition and rebuilding of housing produces huge amounts of CO2, and whenever possible should be avoided now we are aware of the real dangers of global warming. Instead existing buildings should be insulated, retrofitted and refurbished and properly maintained.

Housing For Need Not Greed

Southwark Council’s estates have for well over 20 years been deliberately run down and demonised with some being demolished and replaced. Around 1000 council homes on the Aylesbury Estate have already been demolished buy around 1,700 are still occupied but currently scheduled for demolition.

Marchers on Walworth Road on their way to the Aylesbury Estate.

These homes were well built for the time to higher standards than their replacement and could easily and relatively cheaply be brought up to modern levels of services and insulation with at least another 50 years of life. The estate was carefully designed with open spaces, natural daylight and a range of properties, many with some private outdoor space. The planned replacements are at higher density, less spacious and unlikely to last as long – and only include a small proportion at social rents. Current tenants are more secure and the properties are far more affordable.

People on the street watch and video the march

Many of those whose homes have already been demolished here and on the neighbouring Heygate estate have been forced to move outside the area, some far from London as they can no longer afford to live here.

Bubbles and Marchers on Walworth Road on their way to the Aylesbury Estate.

Although the developers have profited greatly from their work with Southwark Council here and in other estates, and some officers and councillors involved have personally landed well-paying corporate jobs and enjoyed lavish corporate hospitality, the schemes have largely been financial disasters for the council and council tax payers.

Fight4Aylesbury was formed in 199 as Aylesbury Tenants and Residents First, and has been fighting Southwark Council’s plans to demolish the estate since then. While these schemes – part of New Labour’s regeneration initiative – have always been destructive of local communities and disastrous for many of those whose homes have been demolished, we now see that they are also environmentally unsupportable.

You can watch a video on YouTube of Aysen Dennis, Fight4Aylesbury and Tanya Murat, Southwark Defend Council Housing talking about the protest, and FIght4Aylesbury recently released a newsletter, The Future of the Aylesbury with more details on the estate and their proposals. A few more of my pictures from the event are in the album Housing For Need Not Greed – National Action Day, London, UK and are available for editorial use on Alamy.


Goods Way, Gasholders & St Pancras

Sunday, April 30th, 2023

Goods Way, Gasholders & St Pancras: My walk around King’s Cross continued after the walk led by the Greater London Industrial Archeology Society finished on Saturday 8th April 1989 . The previous post was More from King’s Cross Goods Yard.

Works, Goods Way, King's Cross, Camden, 1989 89-4g-35
Works, Goods Way, King’s Cross, Camden, 1989 89-4g-35

I walked west along Goods Way, running parallel to the canal a short distance to the south. It was a way I’d walked before and I didn’t stop to make many photographs. Ii wanted to photograph the bridge across the canal to the goods yard, but couldn’t get the view I wanted and had to make a note to come back another day – which I did a couple of weeks later when I arrived early to take a train from St Pancras.

But this rather nicely proportioned building seemed worth recording at 3 and 3A, perhaps offices and a factory at right, particularly as it seemed unlikely to survive the redevelopment of the area. You can see the girders of a gasholder reflected in the window above the main doorway.

Gasholders, Goods Way, King's Cross, Camden, 1989 89-4g-36
Gasholders, Goods Way, King’s Cross, Camden, 1989 89-4g-36

This splendid group of gasholders is of course no longer at the corner of Goods Way and Camley Street. The last gasholder on Goods Way, on the south side and not included in this picture was demolished around 2010 while these ones were moved a short distance away to the other bank of the canal by St Pancras Lock.

The large name on the wall, HADEN YOUNG were electrical contractors and one of the smaller signs is for Balfour Beatty. The gasworks had been here and although the UK had been converted to gas the gasholders were still being used for storage.

Gasholder, Camley St, Goods Way, King's Cross, Camden, 1989 89-4g-25
Gasholder, Camley St, Goods Way, King’s Cross, Camden, 1989 89-4g-25

Looking across Goods Way from the corner of Camley Street this gasholder remained in place until around 2010.

Gasholders,  Goods Way, King's Cross, Camden, 1989 89-4g-14
Gasholders, Goods Way, King’s Cross, Camden, 1989 89-4g-14

Another view of the gasholders, this time from close to the bridge under the lines out of St Pancras, now underneath the widened viaduct for the Eurostar high speed rail link. Nothing in this picture remains in place, with gasholders and the brick Victorian water tower having been re-sited and the rest demolished.

St Pancras Station, Pancras Rd, Somers Town, Camden, 1989 89-4g-15
St Pancras Station, Pancras Rd, Somers Town, Camden, 1989 89-4g-15

Pancras Road runs down the west side of St Pancras Station and this view disappeared with the building of St Pancras International Station which was officially opened in 2007, with much of the original station being converted into a shopping mall.

Culross Buildings, Battlebridge Rd, King's Cross, Camden, 1989 89-4g-16
Culross Buildings, Battlebridge Rd, King’s Cross, Camden, 1989 89-4g-16

Culross Buildings was built by the Great Northern Railway as housing for railway workers in 1891-2. As well as flats 1-40 and a basement workshop and boiler room there was an adjoining Mission Hall, Culross Hall and a canteen at 41 Battle Bridge Road. Derelict in postwar years and squatted the building eventually became a part of a housing co-op and the flats were brought closer to modern standards.

As the large writing on the wall states, in 1989 the building was home to 150 people. The buildings were unlisted but within the King’s Cross Conservation Area and were demolished in 2008.

This walk will be completed in a later post.

The first post on this walk was Kings Cross, St George’s Gardens & More.


Greedy Property Developers Reward Themselves

Friday, April 21st, 2023

Greedy Property Developers Reward Themselves: Eight years ago on Tuesday 12 April 2015 I photographed housing activists protesting outside the expensive dinner at a Mayfair hotel for the 2015 Property Awards. The protesters held their own alternative awards ceremony for housing protesters as a part of the event.

Among those in my pictures is Aysen from the Aylesbury Estate. The Fight4Aylesbury exhibition in her flat on the estate continues today, Friday 21st April 2023, and on Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd. Parts of some of my pictures from this event were used in collages in that show.


Property Awards at Mayfair Hotel – Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane

Greedy Property Developers Reward Themselves

Property developers have powered the incredible rise in London Housing prices by building luxury flats for mainly overseas investors, many of which remain unoccupied to be sold later at even higher prices to other investors, and also by working with London councils to redevelop social housing largely for private sale.

Greedy Property Developers Reward Themselves

Together with the actions of successive governments – Tory and Labour – they had created what by 2015 was clearly the worst shortage of affordable housing in history, with a record number of evictions and the doubling of rough sleeping in London. Over 50,000 families have had to move out of London while many more properties in the capital remain empty.

Greedy Property Developers Reward Themselves

As I wrote: “Housing in London has ceased to be something to meet human need, and instead is servicing greed and selfishness.” And the expensive dinner taking place that evening in the luxury Mayfair hotel was to give awards to the property developers for their greed. Among those taking part in the protest outside were people from estates which are being redeveloped, including Southwark Council’s Aylesbury estate and Sweets Way in north London who were facing eviction because of the policy of social cleansing driven by councils and developers.

People arriving at the dinner were met by a noisy crowd calling for a fair housing policy outside the ‘red carpet’ entrance to the hotel on Park Lane and had to walk past the protesters to enter. Police tried to keep the entrance clear and some hotel staff directed the guests to other entrances to the hotel, where the protesters also followed.

The protesters held an alternative awards ceremony in front of the hotel entrance, awarding large cardboard cups for the Young Protester of the Year, Placard Making, Demonstration of the Year and Occupation of the Year.

Protesters also briefly occupied occupied a neighbouring branch of estate agents Foxton, who have played a leading role in the gentrification of London. Together with other estate agents they have also been an important influence on the housing policies of both Tory and Labour.

Foxtons is notorious among those who rent property for driving up rents – and in 2022 the London Renters Union reported that their annual revenue had increased by £5m as rents in London went up by an average of 20.5% in 3 months, with one Foxtons tenant reporting a rise of £12,000 per year!

Shortly before I left it became clear that most of those coming to the dinner were being directed to a rear service entrance to the hotel and the protesters moved around the block to hold a rally there. The gate was rapidly closed and there were some minor scuffles as police attempted to move the protesters away. I heard later that there had been two arrests after I left.

Many more pictures at Property Awards at Mayfair Hotel.


Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest & More

Sunday, April 2nd, 2023

Too much was happening on Thursday 2nd April 2015 to fit it all into a headline, with protests against evictions, jailed Palestinian children, arms companies, sacking of trade unionists at hotels in Ethiopia and the Maldives, a politically motivated arrest and a failed visit to a squat in a prominent London building.


Sweets Way at Annington Homes – James St,

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

I began work at a lunchtime protest outside the offices of Annington Homes, the tax-dodging equity investor owned company which owns the Sweets Way estate in north London, calling for an end to evictions and the right to return for all decanted residents.

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

It was a small but lively protest and attracted considerable attention and support on a street busy with office workers taking their lunch break.

Despite the efforts of the campaigners this small former Ministry of Defence estate of 142 social homes was finally forcibly evicted by evicted by dozens of High Court bailiffs and 7 vans of Met police on 23-24th September. Annington planned to replace these with around 170 homes for private sale at up to £700,000, along with just 59 so-called ‘affordable’ homes at £560,000. Nothing on the new estate was to provide social housing and this was clearly an exercise in social cleansing for profit.

Sweets Way at Annington Homes


Admiralty Arch Occupied by A.N.A.L. – The Mall

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

Admiralty Arch, the landmark Grade I listed building providing an impressive entrance to the Mall from Trafalagar Square was commissioned by King Edward VII to commemorate Queen Victoria’s death, designed by Sir Aston Webb and completed in 1912. Initially a residence for the First Sea Lord and offices for the Admiralty it was later more general government offices. The government sold it off in 2012 to be developed as a hotel.

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

Activists from the Autonymous Nation of Anarchist Libertarians had entered the building through the roof at night and were occupying it. I photographed the various notices and banners on the outside of the building and some activities of security and occupiers outside, and talked to a couple of the them. I and a couple of other journalists were offered entry if we brought tobacco or alcohol but felt it wise to refuse and left. I think the squatters were evicted within 24 hours.

Admiralty Arch Occupied by A.N.A.L.


Free the Palestinian Children – G4S, Victoria St

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

G4S provides security services for Israeli jails in which Palestinian children are held, some as young as 12 years old. The most common charge is throwing stones. Typically there have been 500-700 of them a year in the Israeli military detention system with between 120 and 450 held at any one time. In 2014 Israel held 1266 Palestinian children for interrogation; campaigners say 75% of them are physically tortured and many sexually abused.

Housing, Low Pay, Arms Sales, A Political Arrest

One of the protesters who spoke about G4S involvement in the imprisoning and torture of Palestinian children also spoke about her mistreatment by Israeli Security, who forced her to remove her clothes and stand naked to be inspected in public because she was going to visit Palestinians in jail

Free the Palestinian Children


Stations of the Cross Pilgrimage – Westminster

Thursday 2nd April 2015 was Maundy Thursday and Catholic Workers were taking part in a walk around the “geography of suffering” in London halting outside the offices of companies in the arms trade for prayers against the arms trade, war, torture, nuclear weapons, international debt, homelessness, immigration policy and climate change. The ‘Stations of the Cross’ was a day early as this usually takes place on Good Friday.

Among the companies whose offices they prayed outside were arms company Qinetiq in Buckingham Gate, where a security man came out and told them they could not protest there. They told him they were on the public highway and if they wanted to protest they could do so. But they had come to pray not to protest and continued, leaving as they finished their service.

Among other companies I photographed them outside were Rolls-Royce, another weapons manufacturer, where the pilgrimage ended. I had only joined them part way through the event, when the came past the protest at G4S.

Stations of the Cross Pilgrimage


Shame on Sheraton – Hotel Workers – Mayfair

Workers at Sheraton hotels in Ethiopia and the Maldives have been sacked for trade union organising and members of the fast-growing Unite Hotel Workers Branch protested in solidarity with them outside Sheraton’s two Mayfair hotels.

Hotel workers are one of the most marginalised groups of workers in the UK, and many are exploited because their English is poor or non-existent. Here in the UK they can also get sacked for joining a union but despite this, the Hotel Workers branch is the fastest growing branch of Unite because of its determined support for the workers.

I met and photographed their protest outside Le Meridien on Piccadilly for around half an hour before walking down with the to the Park Lane Hotel where I had to leave them to go to Aldgate.

Shame on Sheraton – Hotel Workers


Chingford candidate arrested at Poor Doors – One Commercial St, Aldgate

Police clearly had it in for Lisa McKenzie and during this weekly Poor Doors protest outside One Commercial St a woman officer came up to her a and told her she was being arrested, accused of criminal damage. The officer said she had stuck a Class War sticker on the glass next to the rich door two weeks earlier on March 19th. A snatch squad surrounded her, and despite opposition from the protesters she was led away and put in a waiting police van to be taken to Bethnal Green police station.

While many people had stuck posters and stickers onto the glass windows at almost every Poor Doors protest, this was the first arrest. It’s doubtful whether this is an offence, and it is certainly not criminal damage, as glass is not damaged, with posters and any glue residue being easily removed leaving the surface in as new condition.

I had photographed Lisa and others at the Rich Door fairly extensively on March 19th and was ready to testify that she had not herself stuck anything on the glass – though when her case eventually came to court it was thrown out before I was called.

Lisa was certainly a very vocal protester (as usual) but it’s hard to avoid thinking what picked her out was political pressure because of her candidature for Class War against Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford in the forthcoming general election.

Before her arrest the protest had been hampered by barriers for work on the wide pavement outside the Rich Door of the building, and the protest had started on the opposite side of the main road.

Two incidents caused some hilarity, one where a police officer came to deal with a yellow smoke flare that had been thrown into the road, first seeming to kick it, then picking it up and carrying it away down the alley towards the poor door. It had burnt out by the time he reached this, but as I commented “Everyone else may throw their rubbish here but I was surprised the police thought it a good idea.”

The second was when Lisa pointed out that one of the two women officers standing behind the banner she was holding had taken part in plain clothes in a previous ‘poor doors’ protest, and Ian Bone offered her the megaphone to speak – but this was immediately followed by another woman officer coming to arrest Lisa.

There were some angry scenes as she was driven away, and police refused to talk with the protesters. The protest continued with several speeches before people went home.

Much more at Chingford candidate arrested at Poor Doors.