Grenfell Tower

June 15, 2017

It is difficult to imagine anything more terrifying than being caught in a fire in a tower block knowing you are going to be burnt alive.

Fires do not just happen. Someone drops a burning cigarette, a faulty appliance.

With a tower block, there are additional problems, how to get out, the stairwells acting as chimneys which helps the fire.

With Grenfell Tower, cladding had been fitted. If there are gaps between the cladding and the structure of the building then additional chimneys are formed.

There are reports of cladding which is metal sheets held away from the structure with wood, infilled with polystyrene. If true, we would have polystyrene as a hazardous material, which is inflammable, which gives off highly toxic fumes.

What is shocking is the speed at which the fire spread and engulfed the building. Even more shocking that residents had been warning of the dangers.

There had also been similar tower block fires, with lessons not learnt.

Kensington has put management of the tower block into the hands of an arm-length management company,

Four Executives at KCTMO allegedly ‘managing’ Grenfell Tower paid £125,000 each.

Tenants complained about the building, the management company, the shoddy refurbishment, a tragedy waiting to happen. They would have taken legal action, but cuts to legal aid made this impossible.

Tenants who complained, were threatened with legal action.

This is no uncommon. Tenants on slum estates in Aldershot have got nowhere with their complaints about shoddy housing, lack of repair. The useless local councillors fail to act, the housing association engages in harassment of more vocal tenants.

In local government, and that is not unique to Kensington, there is a complete lack of local accountability.

Tories blocked amendment to housing legislation to improve conditions for tenants.

Tory cuts to councils has not helped, nor cuts to Fire Services.

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn paid a visit today.

Theresa May stayed long enough for a photo shoot with firemen.

Jeremy Corbyn stayed and talked to local people.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also visited and talked to local people.

If houses are vacant for six months, they can be seized by local councils.

For Kensington, foreigners are laundering dirty money to buy property that then sits empty.

This should be seized, if need be, emergency legislation passed to enable the property to be seized.

Squatters should seize the empty properties, then open to those made destitute.

This was already happening in Kensington before the fire.

Those who failed to act, must be charged with corporate manslaughter.

This was not a natural disaster or an act of God, this was man made.

When the government said they wanted a bonfire of red tape, we now know what they meant.

The price of austerity is not only food banks, it is incinerated bodies in a tower block.

In This Changes Everything, with reference to Hurricane Katrina, Naomi Klein discusses how cuts have consequences.

When Sandy hit New York, it was Occupy Sandy that organised all the relief work, officialdom was absent, their only concern to get Wall Street up and running to show the world it was business as usual.

Afternoon in Winchester

June 14, 2017

A hot day. First hot day since May.

Alighted before bus station and walked down the hill into Winchester.

Pleased to find the Sicilian guys had pasta. At first I thought not as they were not there.

I looked in The Dispensery Kitchen, but no time for a coffee. Maybe later.

From Academy Lab an affagato. I had to explain how, but at least this time they had ice cream, Jude’s ice cream which is excellent ice cream.

Comments from several people, a coffee culture in Winchester,  Coffee Lab, Coffee Lab Academy, Flat Whites, The Dispensary Kitchen.

Just had time to walk alongside the River Itchen, a little way into the countryside, then around the back streets, through the Cathedral grounds, back into the High Street and to the bus station.

Very disappointed with the food bikers night at Alton Station Cafe. Doubly disappointed. I had hoped for moussaka. Not only no moussaka, not even there wonderful freshly prepared food. Scampi and chips or fish and chips, which can get anywhere.

A very warm evening.

Next time, I will try and set off much earlier, then maybe stop off at Arsleford, maybe even get a steam train to Arelsford. Or maybe get off bus and have a wander over St Catherine’s Hill.

The facts don’t lie, and nor do I – An open letter to Jeremy Hunt MP

June 13, 2017

NHA - South West Surrey Group

Dear Mr Hunt

On Thursday night, in your acceptance speech, you accused me of “falsehoods”.

In your words, you accuse me of lying about “both our record with the NHS and also our motives”. You were clearly rattled that over 12,000 people in South West Surrey showed their concern for the NHS and voted for someone who questioned your record, but that is what democracy is all about – holding the government to account.

The truth is that I haven’t lied for the simple reason that I haven’t needed to. The facts speak for themselves.

When I talked about your record, I drew out many facts:

  • The number of people lying on trolleys waiting more than 4 hours to be admitted to a hospital bed increased from 387,737 in 2015/16 to 560,108 in 2016/17 – that’s a 45% increase in one year. I’m sure…

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Aldershot Labour tried very hard not to win an election

June 11, 2017

Aldershot is a run down town, more like a large inner city. Prime picking for Labour one would have thought when Theresa May called an unnecessary General Election.

Labour in Aldershot ran an atrocious campaign. They tried very hard not to win.

Local candidate, local party, leader of local party, did an excellent job to work really hard not to win an election.

A useless candidate, and little evidence of any campaigning.

But when you look at their local councillors, easy to see something very wrong.

The only reason these useless candidates get elected is that they stand in slum estates where the electorate, when they can be arsed to vote, vote Labour as a knee-jerk reaction.

A complete failure to make use of social media, both by the candidate and leader of the local party.

Where were the posts of Jeremy Corbyn addressing mass rallies, John McDonnell making excellent economic points, the videos produced by Momentum?

The only video posted, of Dan Jarvis, who for some perverse reason was invited, the same Dan Jarvis who had been calling for Jeremy Corbyn to go. I say invited, not invited to visit, invited to post a message, that is so lacking in enthusiasm, it is palpable.  A video that was going to go a long way to obtain votes, I think not.  But if nothing else, illustrates how bad their use of social media, if this was the best they could do. And sadly it was.

But then this local party was one of the few not to support Jeremy Corbyn

Local activists did more on social media than the entire local party.

The candidate was not even local, parachuted in from outside.

Where Jeremy Corbyn inspired people, the Aldershot candidate generated as much enthusiasm as a wet dishcloth.

It could though have been worse, neighbouring Fleet the candidate was one of these useless local councillors.

To show how bad these councillors are, at least two have used social media to attack and abuse local activists who support Jeremy Corbyn.

The useless councillors would argue the Labour vote increased. Whilst this is correct, it should be noted the Tory vote has been on a  downward trend. Any increase in the Labour vote is entirely due to the efforts of Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Momentum, and the work of local activists.

Aldershot Labour would form an excellent case study in how not to win an election.

If a second General Election is called this year, which is a real possibility, the candidate needs to be someone from Momentum, an activist, a candidate with vision and drive and charisma, who is known on the streets and has the ability to communicate and connect with people.

Cappuccino in Barista Lounge

June 10, 2017

I have had a coffee in Barista lounge a couple of times, each time undrinkable.

Massive turnover of staff.

Last week, yet again someone new. He claimed he knew how to make coffee.

I looked in today, a new lad, only started that day. All on his own.

A pleasant day, I sat in the back yard, where at least peaceful and quiet.

Nothing to eat, apart from bread with cheese.

It was so stale that almost broke teeth biting into it.

A cappuccino was brought with chocolate dumped on top.

I sent it back.

A second cappuccino brought, it looked disgusting and it was.

Not the fault of the lad, first day, did not know what he was doing, all on his own and out of his depth.

Unless Barista Lounge gets its act together, I cannot see it remaining in business

Farnham Local Food Sustainability Fayre

June 10, 2017

I had forgotten this was on, only time to look at a few stalls.

More stalls of interest than Victoria Day in Aldershot, where stalls sellng tat.

It would have been a  better location for Karuna Coffee.

A stall encouraging people to share their tools, via a website.

I would though have been happier to have seen it run as an open coop not a private company.

A stall encouraging people to grow hops, though I am not sure why.

A stall recycling computers. Very much like TechStart in Aldershot, which failed after two years through lack of support.

Disgusting ice cream van belching out toxic diesel fumes.

Afternoon in Farnham

June 10, 2017

Slowly slowly getting warmer.

I arrived later than I wished, having stopped off at Aldershot Victoria Day. A waste of time. Only stall of interest, Karuna Coffee, and I lacked the time to stop and chat as was only passing through, and the loud music made conversation nigh impossible

I had forgotten their was a Sustainability Festival in Gostrey Meadow. More stalls than Victoria Day in Aldershot, and certainly of greater interest.

But little time, else would miss the butcher.

Ad miss the butcher I did, I arrived just as the shutters were going down.

Looked in Gail’s Bakery, it was literally empty. I am not surprised, overpriced food, cakes and bread, and poor quality coffee.

Last week, a new guy in Barista Lounge. He said he knew how to make coffee. A pleasant change if true. He was not there. A young lad, all on his own, and no, he had not a clue on coffee. I tried there one and only bread roll. So hard ad stale, nearly broke teeth biting into it.

Two young people looking lost. I took them on a walk around Bishop’s Meadow.

Talking with people in Farnham. They are appalled at Theresa May calling an election, appalled at her arrogance having called an election, refusing to engage in any debate, feel she has seriously damaged our negotiating position with EU. They feel she should resign. Doing a deal with DUP to cling onto power fills them with revulsion.

Aldershot Victoria Day

June 10, 2017

According to the local council, this is the big day of the year for Aldershot.

In the derelict town centre, two brass bands, a guy on a saxophone, a handful of stalls selling tat.

In Princess Gardens, live music, a few more stalls.

The only stall of interest, Karuna Coffee.

Unfortunately I was only passing through on my way to Farnham, and lacked the time to talk with Karuna Coffee. The loud music also made conversation nigh impossible.

Afternoon in Guildford

June 9, 2017

Slowly slowly turning warmer.

Two weeks ago Gatwick train almost empty, Guildford deserted, following Manchester suicide bombing and raised terrorism status. It was like stepping into Nineteen Eighty-Four. I wondered would today be the same with terrorist attack in London last weekend on London Bridge and at Borough Market. Surprising not, Gatwick train packed, Guildford busy.  Guildford not quite so busy on Tuesday at farmers market.

As always excellent lunch at La Casita.

For starters gazpacho, followed by fillet of sea bream with rice, followed by affogato.

After visiting the market, a cappuccino in Surrey Hills Coffee. Not great, barista took great exception to being asked questions, bags of coffee on sale close to being past their best.

From Waterstone’s Cold Brew Coffee, only published a few days ago, surprised to find.

Then a far better cappuccino in Harris + Hoole.

Passing by Coffee Culture in Angels Gate on my way to the market, busiest I have ever seen it. Rumour on the street is they have gone bankrupt. Whether true or not I do not know.

Theresa May must go

June 9, 2017

Theresa May subjected the country to an unnecessary General Election. She claimed she was being obstructed over Brexit and needed a strong mandate.

This was not true. There was overwhelming support in Parliament to go forward with Brexit.  There was support in the country to go forward with Brexit.

Her call of a General Election was cheap politics at its lowest. She thought she could rely on Labour MPs to sabotage Jeremy Corbyn as they had been doing over the last two years, she thought she could rely upon the media, of the smears in the Murdoch owned media.

She was proved wrong.  Her gambit backfired, blew up in her face.

People saw her for what she was, a cheap politician with nothing to offer, nothing positive to say, lacking in empathy, who could not face the public, could not engage in debate, who appeared as a badly programmed robot that needed a factory recall.

EU must be overjoyed at negotiating with Theresa May.

She should go, but she has the gall to try and form a government.

Even worse form a government with DUP, a party with strong links to Irish terrorists, a party that makes UKIP look like a party of the radical left.

But it is even worse than this.

Devolved government and power sharing in Northern Ireland, always fragile at best, has collapsed, we could easily slip back into violence, the two strong men are no longer there. UK government has to be seen as impartial. Cannot be if favours one side.

Pause and reflect for one moment, if Jeremy Corbyn formed a government dependent upon IRA support?