Posts Tagged ‘local residents’

EDL Saved by Police in Slough – 2014

Thursday, February 1st, 2024

EDL Saved by Police in Slough: Ten years ago today around two hundred EDL supporters had come from around the country to march to a rally in the centre of Slough on Saturday 1st February 2014, sparked by plans to convert a failed social club on the outskirts of Slough to be used as a mosque and Islamic centre.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Their protest was opposed by a much larger counter-protests by black clad anti-fascist groups, the UAF and trade unionists, a large group of local mainly Asian youths and other local residents. Police had to clear a route for the EDL march with charges by police horses and with riot police with raised batons, and also protect them from having to run for their lives from angry counter-protesters to allow their rally to proceed. A large police presence seperated them from a rally by the UAF and trade unionists a short distance away.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Langley Village Club on Cheviot Road, Langley ceased trading in 2013 and was bought by Dawat-e-Islami who gained planning permission to convert it into an Islamic community and teaching centre and place of worship, Faizon-E-Madina.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Langley is on the eastern outskirts of Slough just north of the M4 and A4 and the small medieval village became a major manufacturing ventre, at first for building the Hawker Hurricane and other fighters during and after the war including the Hawker Hunter. When Hawker Siddeley left in 1959 the entire site was taken over by the Ford Motor Company who had been making parts for commercial vehicles there since 1949. The club was a part of the large estates that grew up here in the 1960s and 70s to house the workers in these and other factories around Slough and at Heathrow.

EDL Saved by Police in Slough

Some local residents had objected to the change of use, in particular fearing it might generate large volumes of traffic, although it is a relatively small building and the planning permission imposed a limit of 300 people at events there. The area now has a fairly high number of Muslims living within walking distance of the centre and the charity argued that the 35 parking places on site were sufficient, though the planning committee was not convinced.

The opposition to the plans by the EDL were not largely about parking but Islamophobia. EDL leaflets talked about “the disturbing proliferation of poorly regulated mosques” and linked the protest with its actions to highlight the activities of “vile grooming gangs“; they alleged that residents living around other mosques have been “driven to anger, tears and despair” because of the mosques, and suggested that the centre will “antagonise, perhaps even terrorise, local residents.”

They also claimed that Dawat-e-Islami “overtly supported the assassination of Pakistani politician Salmaan Taseer by Mumtaz Qadri, a member of the organisation who disagreed with Taseer’s opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy law.”

They raised other local issues too, including the setting up of a Muslim faith-based school under the Free Schools programme which opened in September 2015 as Eden Girl’s School. Many others -including probably most of those who came to protest against the EDl would agree with there opposition to this, some opposed to all faith-based schools and those who oppose the whole divisive approach of ‘Free Schools’, agreeing as I do with the teacher’s union NUT (now NEU) that “We believe it is wrong that state funding should be given to small groups of individuals to run schools that are unaccountable to their local communities.”

I don’t visit Slough often, although I live only a few miles away – though it takes a while on the bus. I arrived a couple of hours before the EDL rally was due to start and was able to photograph and talk with the EDL about their protest for some time before a few of them objected to my presence.

The pictures on My London Dairy at EDL Saved by Police in Slough and my account there give a very full account of what happened and I won’t repeat it here. Slough is one of the UK’s most ethnically diverse towns and its industries have brought people to it from across the country and around the world since the 1920s. The population of the borough is now over 150,000 and the various communities seem largely to live together with few problems.

According to Wikipedia, “the 2011 census showed that 41.2% of Slough’s population identified as Christian, 23.3% as Muslim, 10.6% as Sikh, 6.2% as Hindu, 0.5% as Buddhist, 0.1% as Jewish, 0.3% as having other religions” and Slough has the highest proportion of Sikh residents of any town in the country and “the highest percentage of Muslim and Hindu residents in the South East region.”

Much more about what happened along with many more pictures at EDL Saved by Police in Slough.

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Fire Risk Tower Blocks

Saturday, August 12th, 2023

Fire Risk Tower Blocks – On Saturday 12 August 2017 Focus E15 Mothers led a march from Ferrier Point in Canning Town to a rally at Tanner Point in Plaistow pointing out the danger of these two blocks with the same cladding as Grenfell Tower, and then on to the Carpenters Estate in Stratford demanding safe homes, not social cleansing in East London.

Fire Risk Tower Blocks

The May 2022 Fire Risk Assessment of 119-205 Butchers Road, Canning Town conducted for Newham Council was obtained by a Freedom of Information request and can be downloaded. The 11 floor block of 43 flats has a single staircase and then had 86 people sleeping there.

Fire Risk Tower Blocks

The report by Phoenix Green Group declared the likelihood of fire to be ‘Medium’ but the potential consequences would be ‘Extreme Harm’ and gave the building a ‘Substantial’ fire risk rating, stating that urgent action should be taken and listing what was needed. I can find no information on Newham Council’s web site of whether this has been done, or of other council properties which might still be needing urgent action.

Fire Risk Tower Blocks

The block on Butchers Road was not one of those visited on the march led by Focus E15 Mothers in their march around Canning Town and Plaistow to the Carpenters Estate in Stratford. This had begun at Ferrier Point in Forty Acre Lane, Canning Town around 5 minutes walk away, a rather taller 23 storey block with dangerous ACM cladding like that on Grenfell Tower.

Fire Risk Tower Blocks

The cladding on Ferrier Point was replaced with non-combustible cladding in 2019. Otherwise there would have been a very different story when fire broke out on a 12th floor flat there around 6pm on 22nd June 2020. By the time the Fire Brigade arrived at 6.22pm around 150 residents had left the building and the LFB had the fire under control by 7.45pm. Six people required treatment for smoke inhalation, one in hospital the others treated on the spot by London Ambulance staff.

Tanner Point in Plaistow was another stop on the march where residents were extremely worried as this also had fire-risk ACM cladding. Along with that on Nicholls Point, a little off the march route, this was also replaced in 2018-9.

The march was organised and led by the Stratford-based Focus E15 housing campaign but supported by other groups, including the Socialist Party, East End Sisters Uncut, the One Housing campaign, Movement for Justice, Whitechapel Anarchist Group, the Revolutionary Communist Group and local residents, including those from the blocks with dangerous cladding.

The march ended on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford, a once popular estate with over 400 empty homes which Newham’s Labour council largely emptied of people over 10 years ago and intended to demolish and sell off. Here there was a ‘hands around the Carpenters Estate’ solidarity event against decanting, demolition and social cleansing.

Events like this put pressure on Newham Council to speed up the removal of unsafe cladding from its taller tower blocks, but it seems there are still fire safety issues in other blocks that it owns. Years of actions by Focus E15 and others have stopped Newham selling off the Carpenters Estate and they are now going ahead with regeneration plans although these unfortunately lack the real commitment to social housing that the area so desperately needs.

More about the march and more pictures on My London Diary at Fire Risk Tower Blocks.

2015: Grow Heathrow at Five

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

On 28th February 2015, Grow Heathrow, a non-hierarchical free community in an occupied derelict nursery at Sipson, just north of Heathrow Airport celebrated 5 years with open workshops and a party.

It had been set up as a symbol of community resistance to the economic, ecological and democratic crises and to oppose the increasing development of the aviation industry and Heathrow, at a time when local residents, myself included, were protesting against the building of a “third runway” to the north of the current airport.

Local protests had begun back in 2003, and by the time squatters occupied the long-abandoned market garden victory on the specific issue of the new runway seemed more or less assured. Transition Heathrow’s ‘Grow Heathrow’ had longer term and more far reaching goals, hoping to create more sustainable and resilient Heathrow villages after the dropping of the third runway and more widely to build long-term infrastructure and networks to deal with peak oil and the threat of climate change. On their site they set out to demonstrate how we could live differently, ‘off grid’ and with a different and cooperative lifestyle.

I wasn’t particularly closely involved with Grow Heathrow, though I visited the site a number of times for various events, as well as taking part in the local protests and events at the nearby Greenpeace ‘Airplot’, where I was one of the 91,000 of beneficial owners of a very small area of land. It’s an area I knew from my youth, when I often cycled through Sipson ,Harmondsworth, Longford, Horton and Colnbrook.

Grow Heathrow weathered a number of legal battles to stay in occupation, but were evicted from the front half of the site where most of these celebrations took place two years ago at the end of February 2019 after around 9 years of occupation and growth. I’ve not visited since the eviction but so far as I am aware there are still some residents on the back part of the site – which had a different owner, but visits have not been possible since the start of the pandemic.

The project was an important one and brought together many people from different backgrounds, including local residents and international visitors, some who stayed for months and years. Among those who came to the 5th birthday party to join the celebrations and speak were local MP John McDonnell, Tristram Stuart, a pioneer of the radical food movement with his 2009 book on food waste, anthropology professor David Graeber and activist Ewa Jasiewicz.

Grow Heathrow was an inspiration to many, though some of us were unable to envisage its rather spartan lifestyle for ourselves there were lessons that could be learnt in particular from its involvement with the wider community. Heathrow expansion is back on the agenda today, though it is hard to believe it will go ahead given the growing realisation of the vital importance of the climate crisis. Aviation as we know it is incompatible with the kind of Green future our government now plays lip-service too – and will need putting into action for civilisation to survive.

Many more pictures at Grow Heathrow’s 5th Birthday.

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