Posts Tagged ‘Lambeth Town Hall’

Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot – 2017

Saturday, December 2nd, 2023

Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot – On Saturday 2nd December 2017 residents of Cressingham Gardens in Tulse Hill marched with supporters to a rally at Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton to demand Lambeth Council hold a ballot of residents over the plans to demolish their homes. I went early to take a walk around the estate and take some photographs before the rally and march.

Cressingham Gardens – Tulse Hill, Brixton

Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot

Council estates generally get a bad press, with media attention concentrating on those which were badly planned and have been allowed to deteriorate, often deliberately populated with more than than share of families with problems of various kinds, used as ‘sink estates’ by local councils. Some councils have even employed PR companies to denigrate and demonise those of their estates they want to demolish and sell off to private developers.

Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot
This has always been a popular estate, and has a low crime rate for the area

These developers have also powerfully lobbied our main political parties who have handed over much of their policies over housing to developers and estate agents and other property professionals who stand to make huge profits from turning public property into private estates.

Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot

Yet many council estates are pleasant places to live, often much better planned than private developments of the same era, and providing more space for people than the cramped and expensive flats that are replacing them where redevelopment schemes have gone ahead. Lambeth Council have several such estates, including those at Central Hill and Cressingham Gardens where this would clearly be the case, and residents at both sites have campaigned strongly to keep their homes.

Cressingham Gardens Calls For A Ballot

We seem always to be in a housing crisis in the UK, and some of the solutions that were taken to meet this have not always worked to well, particularly with some system-built high rises which were shoddily erected by private developers for councils.

After I left home in the early 1960s I lived in private rented flats, then in a New Town in a flat from the development agency and then for many years now as an owner occupier. The private rentals were pretty squalid and the publicly owned flat was rather more spacious than the small Victorian house we have lived in since. It would have been good to have been able to move into socially owned housing when we relocated but it wasn’t available.

Until the Thatcher government came into power public housing had regarded as something desirable with even Conservative Councils such as Lambeth was then having a mission to provide quality housing for working class Lambeth residents. They employed some of the best architects in the country, such as Edward Hollamby, the chief architect for Lambeth Council who was responsible for Cressingham Gardens and designed this low rise ‘garden estate’ development built in 1967 to 1979 at low cost and with a high population density, but with the 306 homes each having their own private outdoor space.

As the Twentieth Century Society state “this is one of the most exceptional and progressive post-war social housing estates in the UK” but the application for listing the estate in 2013 was rejected despite Historic England praising the way the design responds to its setting, with skill and sensitivity, “both in the scale and massing of the built elements, as well as through the integration of these elements with informal open spaces which bring a park-like character into the estate”. It appears to have been a decision made in defiance of both the estate’s architectural and historical merit and solely on political grounds.

The estate is on the Twentieth Century Society Buildings at Risk list. Lambeth Council have completed their preparation and brief for its complete demolition and their web site states they “will shortly be starting RIBA Stage 2 (Concept Design).

Cressingham Gardens residents say Ballot Us!

People met up next to the Rotunda in the centre of the estate designed by Hollamby as a children’s nursery, many carrying banners and posters. Residents were joined by other campaigners, including those trying to save Lambeth’s libraries and housing campaigners from north London.

Residents love living on Cressingham – a small well-planned estate with a great community feeling and many know that they will be unable to afford the so-called afford ‘affordable’ homes that the council wants to replace their homes with – a 2 bed flat after regeneration will cost £610 (at 2017 values.)

They want the estate to be refurbished rather than demolished, which the council says would cost £10 million. Many dispute the council’s costings and say that some of the problems the council has identified are a matter of poor maintenance rather than needing expensive building works. But residents in any case point to the council having just spent over £165 million on a new Town Hall and say refurbishment is a cheap option.

It isn’t the cost of refurbishment which makes the council turn it down, but the profits that developers can make from the site – and which the council hopes to be able to get a share. Though such schemes haven’t always worked out well. Although the developers have done very nicely out of demolishing the Heygate site in Southwark and building high density blocks on it, the council made a huge loss, though some individuals involved have ended up in lucrative jobs on the back of it.

Lambeth is a Labour Council, and since the previous Labour Party conference party policy had been that no demolition of council estates should take place without consent, but Lambeth Council seem determined to ignore this and go ahead with their plans for a so-called ‘regeneration’ which would see all 300 homes demolished, without any plans to provide immediate council housing for the roughly 1000 residents who would be made homeless. To the council these residents are simply occupying a site worth several hundred thousand pounds – an asset the council wants to realise. It doesn’t care about communities, about people.

Those who have become leaseholders of their homes are likely to get even more shoddy treatment. The amount of compensation they are likely to receive is likely to be less than half they would need to buy a comparable property in the area – on or the rebuilt estate.

Cressingham is in a very desirable location, on the edge of a large park and with good transport links a short distance away. Many are likely to have to move miles away on the edge of London or outside to find property they can afford, far from where they now live and work.

The march set off for Brixton Town Hall on the corner of Acre Lane where a small crowd of supporters was waiting for them. The placed a box containing petition signatures in front of the locked doors on the steps and a rally began with shouts calling for a ballot.

Among those who had come to speak along with residents from the estate were Tanya Murat of Southwark Homes for All and Piers Corbyn, a housing campaigner also from neighbouring Southwark.

One of the strikers from the Ritzy cinema opposite told us that none of them could now afford to live in Lambeth now, and it’s clear that we need more social housing not less in the area. A local Green Party member also told us that they were the only party in the area campaigning for more social housing.

Potent Whisper performed his take on Regeneration, ‘Estate of War’, from this Rhyming Guide to Housing. The video of this was recorded in Cressingham Gardens.

Others who had come along included people from Class War and the e RCG (Revolutionary Communist Group) who have been very active in supporting social housing campaigns as well as Roger Lewis of DPAC who told us how council cuts affect the disabled disproportunately.

More on My London Diary:
Cressingham residents say Ballot Us!
Cressingham Gardens

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Bon Marche, Police, Acre Lane and Tate

Wednesday, September 6th, 2023

Bon Marche, Police, Acre Lane and Tate: My walk which began in Clapham on Sunday 4th June 1989 continues in Stockwell. It began with Light & Life, Pinter and Stockwell Breweries and the previous post was More Stockwell Green & Mary Seacole.

240-250 Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-61
240-250 Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-61

Possibly before going to Stockwell Green, perhaps even at some point on my previous walk I made some more pictures around the centre of Brixton. Unfortunately film doesn’t come with meta-data and my memory is not as reliable as EXIF data, but these pictures were certainly made around the end of May or beginning of June 1989 and so I’ll share them here.

240-250 Ferndale Rd on the corner with Stockwell Ave, just a few yards back from Brixton Road was built in 1905-6 as an annexe of Bon Marche department store, later becoming Post Office with council offices on the upper floor. You can see a post office sign at the left of my picture. A photograph in the Lambeth Archives taken around 1975 show it as offices for Christian Aid and it was later home to the Refugee Council. The ground floor more recently became Canova Hall, a restaurant and the building was revived as The Department Store, “to create a series of collaborative workspaces supported by an evolving hub of creative, retail and community uses“.

Edmundsbury Estate, Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-64
Edmundsbury Estate, Ferndale Rd, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-64

This estate was complete in 1929 for the London County Council as Ferndale Court to house police officers in the City of London Police, but converted into council flats managed by Lambeth Council in 1979 when one of the blocks was demolished to leave a public open space. They were designed by Sidney Perks, who was surveyor to the City of London from 1908 before being appointed as its architect in 1928.

Adjoining the site to the east was the City of London Police Sports Club ground, now the Ferndale Community Sports Centre.

Acre Lane Mouldings Ltd, Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-52
Acre Lane Mouldings Ltd, Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-52

A board illustrates the range of skirting architraves and cornices the company could supply, ‘Quality Mouldings for That Finishing Touch!‘.

Acrelane Timber Ltd is still at this site in Brixton and can perhaps still supply some similar items. A previous frame, not yet digitised shows a little of the frontage offering heating and plumbing supplies.

In my father’s workshop, a very large shed with store rooms and work benches at the back of his family house in Hounslow, long sold off and demolished, I was intrigued as a child by many of the old tools used around the start of the 20th century which included a range of moulding planes used to produce shaped mouldings such as this, used in his father’s cart building business. Back when my elderly aunts moved out around 1970 there was little interest in things like this and I imagine they ended up in landfill, though I’ve since viewed far less impressive ranges in museums.

Lambeth Town Hall, Acre Lane, Brixton Hill, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-54
Lambeth Town Hall, Acre Lane, Brixton Hill, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-54

I turned back along Acre Lane to the junction with Brixton Road where I photographed the grandiose Lambeth Town Hall, complete with a banner advertising an event about child benefit taking place on June 2nd, as well as a sign about going to Lambeth Debtline for debt advice.

Grade II listed Lambeth Town Hall was built in 1905-8, designed by Septimus Warwick and H Austen Hall in what is described as a modified Baroque style, and was further raised and extended 1935-8. I think the clock tower looks like some strange parody, an ornament which doesn’t really belong but has somehow thrust itself up through the ceiling of the main building and flowered extravagantly, reminding me of an amaryllis.

Tate Bust, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-55
Tate Bust, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-55

This area was a pleasant garden before being destroyed by Lambeth Council to produce a windswept waste to discourage local people gathering here. It hasn’t really worked, just become less comfortable with oddly placed fixed chairs and the wind certainly rushes through the renamed Windrush Square. I think I might have come here in 1989 to sit and eat my sandwich lunch.

Henry Tate was born in 1819 in Lancashire, the son of a Unitarian minister, and set up a successful grocery business with six shops in the Liverpool area before going into partnership with sugar refiner John Wright there in 1859. When this partnership came to an end he founded Henry Tate & Sons with his sons Alfred and Edwin.

Tate introduced new more efficient refining techniques for the production of white sugar, and his business expanded and in 1878 he opened a large refinery at Silvertown still producing sugar now.

Fountain, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-56
Fountain, Tate Library, Brixton Oval, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-56

Tate was an employer who took care of his workers and supported many educational projects including free libraries in Streatham, Balham, South Lambeth and Brixton as well as hospitals. After he had built and opened a gallery on Millbank and presented his art collection to the nation he was told Queen Victoria would be offended if yet again he refused a title, and he became a baronet in 1898, a year before his death.

The business was merged with that of Abram Lyle & Sons in 1921, probably causing Tate to turn in his grave, as he had despised Lyle, not least for the way he treated his workers.

Reliance Arcade, Electric Avenue, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-41
Reliance Arcade, Electric Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-6a-41

The Art Deco Reliance arcade was built into an exiting Georgian house and other buildings between Brixton Road and Electric Lane in 1923-5, its Egyptian style terracotta inspired by the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb.

Home to around 30 businesses it was since 2014 this Grade II listed arcade was on English Heritage’s at risk list but was renovated in 2019-20. There are some good pictures from this time by Mike Urban on Brixton Buzz from before and close to the end of the renovation.

My account of this walk will continue in a later post.

Sunlight, Trinity, Town Hall & Granada

Thursday, August 17th, 2023

Sunlight, Trinity, Town Hall & Granada continues the account of my walk on Sunday 28th May 1989. The previous post was The Alexandra, Sanitary Ware & Ace and the walk began with Lavender Hill & Wandsworth Rd – 1989.

Sunlight Laundry, 125 Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5l-43
Sunlight Laundry, 125, Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5l-43

Built 1937, architect F E Simpkins Sunlight Laundry is a fine example of Art Deco ‘moderne’ style which unfortunately some architectural historians have turned up their noses at – perhaps why this building and some others are unlisted. Clearly this should be.

The Sunlight company was founded in 1900 and expanded with branches across London and after a merger in 1928 became a national business. Until the 1960s much of its work was for middle class domestic homes, but the wider ownership of washing machines shrunk the market and it concentrated on hotels, factories and other commercial clients. Later it also became a major contractor to hospitals.

Sunlight Laundry, 125 Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5l-46
Sunlight Laundry, 125 Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5l-46

There are another three pictures of this building online (click on one of these images to go to the album to see them), and I’ve also photographed it on other occasions when passing, though usually I’ve gone past on a 37 bus and not stopped.

Sunlight became part of the Danish Berendsen group and in 2013 changed its name to reflect this. It continues in business internationally and in the UK is the leading company in textile and laundry services to the hospitality and healthcare sectors. The company was acquired in 2017 by the French laundry services group Elis, whose name and logo now label its frontage.

Trinity Homes, Almshouses,  28, Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5l-33
Trinity Homes, Almshouses, 28, Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5l-33

Trinity Homes is a Christian Charity which provides accommodation to both single and married couples over the age of 57 who are members of a Christian denomination. As it states on its frontage it was erected in 1822-4 and was built and Endowed by Thomas Bailey. Additional homes were added in 1860. Initially it was The Trinity Asylum for Aged Persons. The building is Grade II listed.

Bailey was a cut-glass manufacture in the City of London and lived in Bethal House on Trent Road in Brixton Hill behind Corpus Christi Catholic church, built on land given by Bailey. His house, built in 1768, became part of the RC primary school built on the site in 1902 but has since been demolished.

Lambeth Assembly Hall, Buckner Rd, Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5l-34
Lambeth Assembly Hall, Buckner Rd, Acre Lane, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5l-34

The Assembly Hall is at the west end of the Town Hall complex and this striking sculpture relieves a huge plain brick wall area. This rather plain building is covered by the Grade II listing of Lambeth Town Hall and I think dates from 1935-8 when the Town Hall was raised and extended. The striking sculpture on what the listing text calls a particularly handsome rear elevation is ‘Youth rising from the Past‘, by Denis Dunlop (1892–1959).

Lambeth Town Hall, Acre Lane, Brixton 89-5l-35-Edit
Lambeth Town Hall, Acre Lane, Brixton 89-5l-35-Edit

Lambeth Town Hall seen from Acre Lane, though my more usual views of it have been either from Windrush Square or in close-up from the bus stop on the opposite side of the road during those long waits for a No 37 bus.

I’m not a great fan of the rather pompous clock tower of this Grade II listed town hall designed by Septimus Warwick and H Austen Hall and built in 1905-8. Edwardian Baroque always seems to me a period where architecture lost its way and was given excessive funding thanks to our plundering the wealth of the Empire.

Granada Brixton, Brighton Terrace, Bernay's Grove, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989 89-5l-36
Granada Brixton, Brighton Terrace, Bernay’s Grove, Brixton, Lambeth, 1989

Opened in 1898 as the Empress Theatre, designed by Wylson & Long, it was reconstructed in Art Deco style by Andrew Mather, reopening in 1931 as the New Empress Theatre. It showed films on Sundays when live performances were not allowed. It closed as a theatre in 1957 and after alterations opened a month later as a cinema. Granada Brixton became a Bingo Club in 1967 and when this closed was used as a furniture store. It was demolished in 1992 and the rather ugly Pavilion Mansions built on the site.

This walk continues along Brighton Terrace in a later post.

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Stand Up To Lambeth, Brixton Arches, Trafalgar Square & Iran

Saturday, October 8th, 2022

Saturday 8th October 2016 in London

Stand Up to Lambeth Council – Windrush Square, Brixton

Stand Up To Lambeth, Brixton Arches, Trafalgar Square & Iran
Rapper Potent Whisper with the Andrew Cooper’s four Lambeth villains

Lambeth is on some measures one of the most unequal boroughs in the whole of England, with some areas of high deprivation and others with well above average incomes. It is ethnically diverse, with almost two thirds not describing themselves as White British and schoolchildren coming from homes in which 150 languages other than English are the first language. There are large Portuguese, Spanish and Somali speaking communities and almost a quarter of the population identify as Black.

Lambeth Council is run by Labour who have almost 60 councillors, with just three Lib-Dems and two Green Party councillors (there were 3 Conservatives and no Lib-Dems in 2016.) It is dominated by right-wing Labour councillors and has many links with property developers, estate agents and others, and seems determined to follow policies which are not in the interests of the people of Lambeth, closing libraries, ending many vital services and getting rid of council estates and the people who live there.

Lambeth works with Savills, are a leading agency in social cleansing

Activists in the borough accuse the Labour council of financial waste and “destroying our communities, racial and social inequality” and “stealing the people of Lambeth’s future.” The borough’s motto is ‘Spectemur Agendo’, Let us be judged by our acts, and many in Lambeth have judged the council and found it guilty of selling out its people.

Police come to protect a Lambeth Labour stall supporting the council

The protest was planned to be ‘family friendly’, a ‘big, pink, determined’ event to ‘Stand Up To Lambeth Council’ and oppose its “destruction of services, homes, jobs and the rights of residents.” As well as speeches there was a small brass band. But the protesters were clearly angry and a Lambeth Labour stall in the square needed police protection after it refused to take part in the protest or move. There were Labour members taking part in the protest, but Lambeth Momentum later appeared to deny supporting it, hoping to avoid the kind of purges that have been highlighted in the recent truly shocking Al Jazeera ‘Labour Files’ documentaries.

Council business is largely decided by a small inner cabinet, and the four major villains were represented at the event by a large four-headed monster made by Andrew Cooper with the faces of Lambeth Labour leader Lib Peck, Cabinet Member for Housing Cllr Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Business and Culture Jack Hopkins and Sue Foster, Strategic Director, Neighbourhoods and Growth.

Eventually the march set off for Clapham Common, though it came to a partial halt almost immediately for a protest outside Lambeth Town Hall opposite Windrush Square, before setting off slowly towards Clapham.

I walked with the march roughly halfway to Clapham Common before turning around and going back to Brixton to catch the Victoria Line to central London.

More on My London Diary:
Stand Up to Lambeth March
Stand Up to Lambeth Council

Brixton Arches & More – Windrush Square, Brixton

Save Brixton Arches

Both on my way to the protest and during the march along Acre Lane I took a few pictures of Brixton. One of the actions of Lambeth Council has been to cooperate with Network Rail to force out traders from the railway arches in the centre of Brixton.

Network Rail intend to refurbish the arches and will then re-let them at three or more times the current rents, which will mean the distinctive local businesses being replaced by chains which can be found on every high street across the country. The campaign to keep the businesses there received huge support in the area, but the council wasn’t listening.

I rushed a few yards away from the march to photograph the mural Big Splash, painted in 1985 by Christine Thomas and still looking well (details here), though I doubt if anything like this ever existed on Brixton’s river, the Effra.

Trafalgar Square

I’d left the Lambeth protest to come back to photograph a protest that was supposed to be happening in Trafalgar Square which quite a few people had said on Facebook they would be attending. But nobody had turned up, and I had time to wander around the square.

One of the four 18ft square square bas-reliefs on the base of the column was of particular interest as the picture showing Nelson’s death includes one clearly black face. These panels were supposed to be made with brass from captured French cannon, but one led to a court case with the makers being jailed for having added some much cheaper iron and it had to be completed by others. The builders of the column also got away with fraud, as when it was restored in 2006 it was found to be 16 ft shorter than it should have been.

Red Devils MC, Holland

There were problems with the lions too, as they were first commissioned to be sculpted in granite, but the sculptor had a disagreement with the architect and abandoned the job. took years for them to be re-commissioned in bronze from Sir Edwin Landseer and Baron Marochetti and they were only added in 1867. And like most large projects while the costs were intended to be covered by private finance (or rather public subscription) the government had to step in and cover much of the cost.

Trafalgar Square

Iranian vigil on Anniversary of 1988 Massacre – Trafalgar Square

I’d stayed in Trafalgar Square to photograph a vigil by the Iranian People’s Fadaee Guerrillas in London and the Democratic Anti-imperialist Organisations of Iranians in Britain on the 27th anniversary of the massacre of an estimated 18,000 political prisoners held in Iranian jails by the Iranian regime following its defeat in the Iraq/Iran war in the Summer of 1988.

The 3 months of killing by the Iranian regime of communists, progressives, patriotic activists and intellectuals of all ages ended at the beginning of October 1988 but details only began to emerge years later. The protest also called for the release of the many political prisoners still held in Iran and called for a society there were all would be free and equal.

Iranian vigil on Anniversary of Massacre

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Sean Rigg Memorial 2012 – Brixton

Sunday, August 21st, 2022

Sean Rigg Memorial 2012 - Brixton
Mona Donle and Sean Rigg’s mother and sisters lead the march to Brixton Police Station

Sean Rigg Memorial 2012 – Brixton

Sean Rigg, a 40-year-old black musician and music producer was assaulted and arrested by police on August 21st 2008 and taken to Brixton Police Station where he died as a result of police violence.

Sean Rigg Memorial 2012 - Brixton

Wikipedia fills in some details about what happened. Police had been called to Rigg, who suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and had become “uncooperative and aggressive” in his hostel earlier in the day but they turned down five 999 phone requests from hostel staff asking for urgent assistance. They only eventually turned up after a number of calls from members of the public about his “strange behaviour” on the street outside.

Sean Rigg Memorial 2012 - Brixton

Four officers arrived, chased and handcuffed him, then restrained him face down, leaning on him for 8 minutes, before placing him “face-down with his legs bent behind him in the caged rear section of a police van” and driving to Brixton Police Station, where he was kept locked in the van unmonitored for a further 10 minutes before, by then “extremely unwell and not fully conscious” he was taken into the police station.

It took 25 minutes for police to call their medical examiner to examine him, and the custody sergeant told the doctor he was “feigning unconsciousness.” Ten minutes later the doctor found his heart had stopped and he was not breathing. CPR failed to revive him but he was only officially pronounced dead after being taken to a nearby hospital.

This was the start of an immediate and sustained effort of lies and obfuscation by the police officers involved, the Metropolitan Police, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Crown Prosecution Service and even courts to cover up what had actually happened and protect the police officers who killed Sean Rigg.

And the story would have ended there, but for the incredibly determined efforts of his family to uncover the truth. The Sean Rigg Justice & Change Campaign was set up, led by his sisters Marcia Rigg-Samuel and Samantha Rigg-David and supported by the rest of the family. One of many family-led campaigns which togther make up the United Families and Friends Campaign, it also got support from other organisations including Inquest and Black Mental Health UK and has slowly managed to bring the many of the facts out into the open.

Four years later, on August 21st 2012 I was in a full Assembly Hall inside Lambeth Town Hall for the Sean Rigg Memorial where a number of speakers including Sean Rigg’s sisters gave details they had managed to uncover of his death, the misleading press releases from the police and their attempts to cover up and the total failure of the IPCC to carry out a proper investigation. At the end of the meeting the 50 minute film ‘Who Polices the Police’ directed by Ken Fero of Migrant Media was shown.

Speakers also talked about other cases of suspicious deaths in police custody where again there has been no proper investigation – and no police officer has ever been found responsible.

Mona Donle

Mona Donle spoke about an incident she had witnessed two days earlier across the road in Windrush Square, where police arrested another man who was clearly disturbed and acting unpredictably. One officer choked the man by holding his forearm across his throat, then another officer stamped on him. The foot was on his face when he passed out and people kept telling the police to call an ambulance. Another witness to the event told me it was around twenty minutes before the man came round – and he still had the clear impression of the boot across his face. The police record of the incident made no mention of any violence and suggested the ambulance came ‘approximately’ five minutes after the arrest.

Brixton Police Station

The inquest into Sean Rigg’s death had brought out some more of the details, and its verdict 3 weeks earlier had ‘concluded that the police had used “unsuitable and unnecessary force” on Rigg, that officers failed to uphold his basic rights and that the failings of the police “more than minimally” contributed to his death‘.

Three police officers had clearly committed perjury in their evidence to the inquest and were arrested in 2013. One was cleared by the IPCC and in 2014 the Crown Prosecution Service announced it would not bring criminal charges despite what appeared to most people compelling evidence. Later the Rigg family campaign forced the CPS to review that decision and one officer was charged, and the case was brought. Inexplicably the jury decided to acquit him.

The inquest verdict also led to the setting up of an external review of the IPCC investigation, which gave an extremely damning verdict on there total failure to properly investigate the events. It and other investigations into the IPCC led to this being replaced in 2018 by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. It will surprise no-one if that is also replaced in a few years time.

After the memorial meeting around 200 of those present marched behind the Sean Rigg Campaign banner from the town hall to Brixton Police Station, where flowers were laid at the memorial tree outside, candles lit and a minute’s silence held for Sean Rigg and other victims of police violence.

Samantha Rigg and Mona Donle then took a formal complaint into the police station about the police assault two days earlier and were followed in by a crowd, packing out the small lobby. Police made a copy of the complaint and gave them a signed and dated copy. They asked to see the officer in charge, and after a few minutes he came to a side door and answered what questions he could about the arrest.

There still, 14 years on from his death, despite the huge fight by his family, has been no justice over the death of Sean RIgg. Nor for the families of others who have died in police custody, prisons etc.

No Justice, No Peace.

Sean Rigg Memorial – 4 Years

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Guantanamo, Firefighters, Advocacy, RMT & Lambeth Cuts

Friday, February 25th, 2022

Guantanamo, Firefighters, Advocacy, RMT & Lambeth Cuts. Wednesday 25th February 2015 was a busy day for protests in London, and I photographed five events.

Free Shaker Aamer at Parliament

The Free Shaker Aamer campaign protested for 4 hours at Parliament calling for the urgent release of London resident Shaker Aamer from Guantanamo, where he had been held for over 13 years and regularly tortured. Of course I didn’t stay with them that long – there aren’t really that many ways to photograph a fairly small group in orange jumpsuits – but it meant they were still there when I arrived over three hours after their protest began.

Usually their protests are at lunchtime, but because they had stayed longer I was able to photograph their weekly protest at around 3.30pm on my way to an event outside Downing St. They continued these protests while parliament was sitting until Shaker was released towards the end of 2015.

Striking Firefighters block traffic

Firefighters came out of their rally in Central Hall and blocked the road in front of Parliament. I don’t think the police tried to move their fellow public servants, who had a large black balloon with the message ‘FBU – WE RESCUE PEOPLE, NOT BANKS! STOP THE CUTS’ as well as several banners.

After around ten minutes they marched down to Downing St, blocking much of Whitehall. In front of the gates to Downing St there was a very noisy protest, and police did come and talk with In front of the gates to Downing St there was a very noisy protest, and police did come and talk with FBU leader Matt Wrack and promised to try to get someone to come out and talk with them.

They were still waiting when I left – and I think they would still be waiting now before anyone representing our Tory government came.

Welfare Advocacy not a Crime

A short walk away in Caxton Street people were protesting outside the Dept of Work & Pensions in a nationwide day of action over the arrest of welfare rights activist Tony Cox.

Although by law welfare claimants are allowed to have an adviser present with them at job centre interviews, when a claimant arrived together with Cox his interview was cancelled. And later that day police arrived at Cox’s home, arresting him and charging him with threatening behaviour.

When his case came to court in October the prosecution had to drop the main charges. A month after the first hearing Cox was found guilty of refusing to supply person details to the police and fined £200 and admonished on the charge of hindering the officers.

RMT protest Underground Job Cuts

Despite earlier promises, Transport for London were planning to go ahead with a 50% cut in station staffing, closing ticket offices such as the well-used one at the busy Edgware Road station on the Bakerloo Line.

Things threatened to get nasty with some angry exchanges when police tried to move RMT members handing out leaflets to the public, but the RMT members insisted on their right to do so on the pavement outside the station entrance.

Lambeth against £90m cuts

Another tube journey changing at Oxford Circus from the Bakerloo to the Victoria Line took me south of the river to Brixton where a short distance from the station a lively rally was taking place on the street corner outside Lambeth Town Hall.

Around a hundred trade unionists, pensioners, library and other council staff, social housing tenants and other residents were there to tell councillors arriving for a council meeting to reject library closures and other £90 millon cuts.

It was now around 6pm, and in late February the sun sets around 5.30, so it was getting rather dark. Although I had both flash and LED lighting, neither is much use for lighting larger groups of people, and even on the corner of two major roads the streetlighting a few yards back was pretty poor. Thankfully digital cameras are considerably better than film under such conditions and I was able to get good results at ISO 3200.

More on all these on My London Diary:

Lambeth against £90m cuts
RMT protest Underground Job Cuts
Welfare Advocacy not a Crime
Striking Firefighters block traffic
Free Shaker Aamer at Parliament

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