Posts Tagged ‘rehousing’

Nine years ago: 6 Oct 2012

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

Proposals to close Accident and Emergency services at four of the nine hospitals in North West London provoked fury among local residents and opposition from local councils as they would mean slow journeys over heavily congested roads for those living in much of northwest London. The proposals seemed to be motivated simply by cost savings with no regard to the consequences.

This protest was one of a number that I photographed, particularly about the closure of A&E and some other services at both Charing Cross Hospital (which is in Hammersmith) and Ealing Hospital. The previous month I had photographed a http://mylondondiary.co.uk/2012/09/sep.htm#hospitals large march from Southall Park to Ealing Hospital against the closure plan and there was another march to Central Middlesex Hospital taking place that same day.

These large and widespread protests and legal actions taken by the protesters were almost certainly a major factor behind the decision in March 2019 by then Health Secretary Matt Hancock to finally scrap the plans for what was the biggest hospital closure programme in the history of the NHS. The campaigners welcomed the decision but said it should have come much earlier rather than after seven years of the Dept of Health supporting the plans, which would have involved demolishing Charing Cross Hospital and selling off most the site.

I photographed as people gathered for the march in Shepherds Bush but had to leave as the march was setting off for Hammersmith and a rally in Fulham to go to Westminster.

Britain First, a far-right anti-Muslim movement (it describes itself as “a modern, responsible patriotic political movement”) was protesting at Downing St against what they described as ‘Britain’s secret shame – Muslim Grooming’ and were joined on their protest by members of other extremist groups including the English Defence League. After protesting for around an hour at Downing St they marched the short distance to Parliament Square where they tried to burn an Islamic flag. It proved to be rather fire-resistant.

A few yards away, thousand of Muslims packed Old Palace Yard opposite the Houses of Parliament in a peaceful protest against an Anti-Muslim film made in the USA. They called for laws to protect religious figures.

The film, Innocence of Muslims, a crude video made by https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakoula_Basseley_Nakoula Egyptian-born American writer Mark Basseley Youssef had already prompted violent anti-American protests in various Muslim countries. Youssef was then in jail in Los Angeles for violations of a probation order which, among other things included making false statements regarding his role in the film, and his use of the alias “Sam Bacile”. He had a previous conviction for in 1997 for intent to manufacture methamphetamine and was under probation following release in June 2011 from being jailed in 2010 for his part in a bank fraud.

Youssef, under his alias Bacile, falsely claimed that the anti-Islamic film had been funded by $5 million from 100 Jewish donors and that he was an Israeli Jew. An Egyptian court tried him and others in absentia and sentenced them to death for defaming Islam in November 2012. He was released from prison in 2013 to serve the remainder of his sentence in a halfway house in Californinia followed by 4 years of probabation.

Finally I travelled to Kilburn for a march and rally demanding Brent council rehouse the Counihan family from South Kilburn. Two years earlier, Anthony Counihan, a London bus driver inherited a few acres of poor land in Galway on the death of his father. Rented out, it brings an income of £18 a week.

He reported this to Brent Council, who responded with an eviction order and a demand for repayment of £70,000 of housing benefit, later telling him he should move back with his family to Ireland where he was born – while continuing to drive a bus from Cricklewood Depot. His wife Isabel and five children were all born in Brent.

The case was complicated by the fact that the family had moved out of a council property to go back to Ireland for a year to look after his sick father, and had signed away their lease as the council had not told them they could sublet for the year, and by their treatment by the council after their return, when they were unable to find accomodation they could afford on a bus-drivers salary. Brent decided they had made themselves “intentionally homeless” and were refusing their statutory duty to rehouse the family.

More on all at:
Rehouse the Counihans
Muslims against Anti-Muslim Film
Britain First – Muslim Grooming
Save Our Hospitals – Shepherds Bush


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November 2014

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

I had a busy week at the end of November 2014, with protests on Monday, Tuesday, two on Wednesday and three on Friday. Fortunately there was only one event I felt I needed to cover on the Saturday and I took the Sunday off; I think there were some things happening but I needed another day of rest.

2020 is rather different. The only real event in my diary is a visit to the health centre for my regular six-monthly diabetic review, though there are a couple of virtual events. Back in 2014 I got plenty of exercise covering events, but this week I’ll be going out for my now usual 10 mile bike rides most mornings. Otherwise I’ll be stuck in front of a computer writing things like this or digitising, editing and contextualising pictures I made in the 1980s, sometimes a tricky process. Back then we didn’t have metadata or geolocation and I wasn’t always good at record keeping. And when I start falling asleep at the keyboard I’ll probably watch a film.

Roger Waters, Clive Stafford Smith and Caroline Lucas hold a banner

Monday’s protest, on 24th November 2014, We Stand With Shaker, was in Old Palace Yard, Westminster in front of the Houses of Parliament. Present were two of my favourite MPs, Caroline Lucas and John McDonnell, as well as civil rights activist including Peter Tatchell and Clive Stafford Smith, my favourite comedian Jeremy Hardy and of course people from both the We Stand With Shaker campaign and the ‘Free Shaker Aamer Campaign’ whose regular protests I’ve often photographed.

Jeremy Hardy, Peter Tatchell and John McDonnell

Attracting a little more media attention (though not much) was music legend Roger Waters, Pink Floyd’s chief songwriter, who had become involved in the campaign after hearing that Shaker Aamer recited some of his lyrics in his Guatanamo prison cell to help him keep sane in long spells of solitary confinement.


And there was Shaker Aamer. Not the man himself, still held in Guantanamo seven years after being cleared for release, but a giant inflatable figure of him for people to be photographed with holding the message ‘I stand with Shaker.‘ Someone took my picture too, but I don’t think it was ever seen again. You can see more at We Stand With Shaker. Thanks to the long campaign, Shaker Aamer, the last British resident to be held in Guantanamo was finally released on 30 October 2015.


Protesters meet in front of Newham Council’s Housing Office

I caught the train rather earlier than I liked on a cold Tuesday morning to travel across London to Stratford where I met with a small group of protesters from the housing protest group Focus E15 and Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) to support a young mother and her child. Newham council had a statutory obligation to rehouse Candice and her child, but were trying to do so by sending her over 200 miles from the borough and her community to private rented accommodation in Liverpool.

Candice is allowed into the offices for her interview

The group accompanied her to the Housing Office to support her claim to be rehoused locally. Candice wanted two of them to go in with her as support in her meeting with the officials to discuss her case, but they were refused entry by council staff. Something of a ruckus with security staff on the door eventually led to the two, Jasmine and Sam, being pushed past them along with one other protester, but the rest of the group were kept outside, along with myself and two videographers.

Security stop Jasmine and Sam from going in to advise Candice

It was difficult to take photographs, though I made a few through the windows and doors despite the security staff attempting to block the view of what was happening inside.

Sam and Jasmine argue with a council official to be allowed to support Candice

I was also restricted by wanting to respect the privacy of other clients inside the office. The police arrived and went inside – and I think told the council officials to It wasn’t easy to know what was happening inside, though Sam did occasionally come to a window to try and tell us what was going on.

Sam tries to speak through a window to let those outside know what is happening

The protest continued outside the door, and unfortunately the security staff decided not to admit others who had come for interviews, despite promises by the protesters outside not to impede them or rush in.

Sam and Stan at the door to the meeting – with Jasmine sitting inside

The meeting with a housing officer was taking place inside, and through a window when Sam held the door open I could see Jasmine’s back as she sat giving her support and advice.

The protest continued outside the door, and unfortunately the security staff decided not to admit others who had come for interviews, despite promises by the protesters outside not to impede them or rush in.

Eventually one of the protesters negotiated with security to allow clients to enter by a rear door which they would not protest outside but would direct the clients too. The protesters were rather more concerned than council staff at allowing them access.

There was a bitter wind and it was wet outside, and after the meeting had been going on inside for over an hour I was shivering, despite being warmly dressed. I would have liked to have photographed the group coming out and sharing the news that Candice would be rehoused in the borough at Canning Town but decided I had to leave. By the time I was home and writing up the story I’d got the news on the group’s Facebook page.

More pictures at Focus E15 Support Homeless Mother


My week in November 2014 continues in another post…