National Park Cities Thunderclap

Introducing the concept of National Park Cities, publicising a thunderclap about the same and displaying some of my own photographs.

INTRODUCTION

To take part in a Thunderclap you have to be on at least one of facebook, twitter or tumblr, so for the benefit of those among my readers who cannot take part I am also including some recent photos of my own that tie in well with this particular thunderclap. 

NATIONAL PARK CITIES

The idea behind this thunderclap, set up the folks at team4nature is that there are recognized health benefits to people having easy access to nature. Among the potential pioneers of the concept of a National Park City is London, and you can declare your support here. To take part in the thunderclap click here, or on the image below, which shows the story in full:

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PHOTOGRAPHS

Here are some of my recent nature pictures, which also feature the two main parks in King’s Lynn, The Walks and Lynnsport Park and sections of Bawsey Drain and The Gaywood River.

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Shared Space Roads ?

Some thoughts on shared space streets and Exhibition Road in particular.

INTRODUCTION

Much of this post will also be appearing on my London Transport themed website as well as here because of the location of the particular shared space road that brought this issue to my attention. That location is of course Exhibition Road, London – a location very familiar to me from when I lived in London and was a regular visitor to museums. Here is a map for you to orient yourselves:

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WHAT IS A SHARED SPACE ROAD?

A shared space road is a road without pavements, with no clear distinctions between where cars, cyclists and pedestrians should be. According to some this arrangement reduces accidents. However, a recent incident on London’s Exhibition Road has called this into question. Here is a tweet from campaign group Transport for All:

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This (to me) raises two questions to be taken in turn:

CAN SHARED SPACE ROADS WORK?

I am uncertain on this one and will welcome evidence from people with experience of shared space roads in their localities. My own view is that they could work but the following is necessary:

  • Clear signage explaining what a shared space road is and what that means.
  • A very low speed limit for motor vehicles (even lower than the 20mph which is now commonplace in the vicinity of schools) fiercely enforced – speeding on a shared space street should be punished more severely than speeding elsewhere because of the greater risk of hitting someone.
  • Referring back to my first bullet point it needs to made clear that motorists are always expected to give way to cyclists and pedestrians.

Given what I know of London drivers I do not think that London is the right city to be trialling these (although Rome and Paris would both clearly by even worse options!)

SHOULD EXHIBITION ROAD BE A SHARED SPACE ROAD?

Absolutely not – it should be completely pedestrianised. There are excellent public transport connections in this part of the world. 
Continue reading “Shared Space Roads ?”

Marxism 2017

Setting the scene for a series of posts about Marxism 2017.

INTRODUCTION

In approximately two hours I will be off to catch a train to London for Marxism 2017, four days of political meetings. Given the location I will have regular wi-fi access and will blog regularly about the event.

MARXISM 2017

Most of the rest of this post will be taken up with pictures of my timetable, but before I put them up a note – I have ticked the meetings that I definitely intend to go to, and put question marks against those I am considering (if for example there are two in one slot that appeal and I have not yet made a final decision).

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Four New Posts on www.londontu.be

Screenshot links to all four of my new posts on http://www.londontu.be

INTRODUCTION

In my previous post here I indicated that there would be a number of new posts appearing on my London Transport themed website. I now provide links to them.

THE LINKS

Each link will come in the form of a screenshot…

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Southern’s rail plans will breach Equality Act, says disabled access expert | DisabledGo News and Blog

More trouble for #SouthernFail. They should lose their franchise forthwith, either being run direct by the government or being put under the umbrella of TFL…

Plans by an under-fire rail company to change the way it staffs its trains will lead to “unacceptable” and repeated breaches of the Equality Act by denying disabled passengers the support they need to travel, it has been claimed. Southern – which operates train services across parts of south London and southern England – is planning to replace conductors with “on board supervisors” (OBSs), whose job will not include stepping onto the platform at stations. Campaigners fear that introducing these supervisors will mean that disabled passengers who need assistance on platforms at unstaffed stations could be left stranded and unable to board their train. Southern is also planning to allow OBS trains to operate with only a driver in “exceptional circumstances” – which is likely to make travel even harder for disabled people – and has also admitted that two-fifths of its trains are already driver only operated (DOO). Southern is embroiled in a long-running industrial action over its plans to

Source: Southern’s rail plans will breach Equality Act, says disabled access expert | DisabledGo News and Blog

Marxism 5: The Final Day

The conclusion to my series of posts about Marxism 2016.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to my fifth post in this series about Marxism 2016. Since Marxism adopted its current format of running from Thursday afternoon through to Monday afternoon in 2005 (before that it used run from a Friday evening to the afternoon of the following Friday) the Monday morning has usually been the quietest time of the event, before the closing rally finishes things with a flourish.

GETTING THERE AND THE PLAN

I wished to arrive early at the event so as to have time to deposit my main bag in the left luggage room for the morning and then prepare for the day. I was accompanied on this last journey in from Walthamstow to the Institute of Education by the other person who had been a guest in the house I was staying at, and who I had discovered was also autistic. We left in good time and had a very smooth journey to the event.

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THE MORNING MEETINGS

My first meeting, Lewis Nielsen on What Would a Revolution Look Like? down in the drama studio was interesting, and well worth attending. The second meeting, Camilla Royle on How Big Pharma stops us making progress in Nunn Hall was excellent. As well as stuff from Bad Pharma (Ben Goldacre’s classic) she mentioned the Martin Skhreli case. This meeting was a worthy lead up to the closing rally, due to start at 2PM in the Logan Hall.

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Lewis Nielsen ready for his meeting.
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Camilla Royle ready for action in Nunn Hall.

THE FINAL RALLY

The Final Rally was quite simply magnificent. After several prominent campaigners, including a trainee nurse and a junior doctor, the last two speeches were by Richard Boyd Barrett TD and Michael Bradley. I left during the applause at the end of Michael’s speech, wishing to retrieve my bag and leave the building reasonably swiftly. This meant that I missed the singing of the Internationale.

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Some of the team, in their red t-shirts.

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Sarah who helped organize the event chaired the final rally.
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Our firs speaker, a trainee nurse talking about what is being done to people in her position.

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Junior doctor Megan Parsons addresses the final rally.
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Richard Boyd Barrett TD seeks to inspire by showing how Irish politics has changed out of all recognition since he joined the Irish SWP in 1989
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Mike Bradley making the final speech of Marxism 2016.

HOMEWARD BOUND

My departure during the applause for Mike Bradley enabled me to make a swift exit from the building, which had the extra benefit that I got to King’s Cross station at 15:37, so was able to travel back on the 15:44, which I had not expected.

Marxism 1: Getting There and Day 1

An account of my experiences onj the opening day of Marxism 2016, topped and tailed with details of getting there, and getting to my accommodation after the final meeting.

INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the first of what will be a series of posts about Marxism 2016, a five-day political festival that happened in London between June 30th and July 4th.

THE JOURNEY

I made my usual allowances for things to go wrong, catching the 10:54 train out of King’s Lynn. This then ran very smoothly, meaning that I had time once at the event to deposit one bag, pick up a final timetable and plan my meetings without hurry.

MEETING 1: CORBYN, THE LABOUR PARTY AND THE STRUGGLE FOR SOCIALISM

This meeting, with Mark L Thomas as speaker was scheduled for the Drama Studio on level one of the Institute of Education building. However, the numbers of people wishing to attend led to a last minute change of venue to the Elvin Hall.

The talk started, as it had to, with some stuff about the attempted coup against a leader voted for by 59.5% of the membership. The 172 PLP members who voted for the motion of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn are vastly out of step with their membership – most are pro-austerity while their membership is anti-austerity.

One of the points made about the progress of this attempted coup was that if it succeeded Labour would have lost all claim to be regarded as democratic party – 172 highly placed individuals would have demonstrated that their opinions counted for more than those of over 250,000 who voted for Corbyn.

Mark L Thomas reckoned that the right-wingers in the PLP had two fears:

  1. As people who depend on election results they feared that Corbyn could not win an election and…
  2. As right wingers they feared that Corbyn could win an election (Blair himself had said opnely that he would rather lose an election than win one with Corbyn as leader).

This meeting was an excellent and inspiring start to the event. Of course since then tens of thousands of people have joine the Labour party, many stating that their reason doing so is to support Corbyn.

I will finish this section with a suggestion/ challenge: if the 172 are so confident that they are in the right why don’t they resign their seats, triggering 172 by-elections, in which they stand without the benefit of the Labour rosette against whoever the CLPs choose as the Labour party candidate? Of course the answer to this is the same as the answer to why hasn’t one of these individuals garnered 51 signatures and challenged Corbyn to a leadership battle: they know that in a fair, open fight like that they would get thrashed.

A late addition – it appears from breaking news that the Chilcot report (it is fairly obvious from the timing of the attempted coup against Corbyn that they wanted him out before Chilcot was released) is very damining – here is a snippet from a much longer piece that can be viewed here:

In its damning report the inquiry panel found:

  • Judgments about the severity of the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction – WMD – were ‘presented with a certainty that was not justified’;
  • There was ‘little time’ to properly prepare three military brigades for deployment in Iraq, the risks were not ‘properly identified or fully exposed’ to ministers, resulting in ‘equipment shortfalls’;
  • Despite explicit warnings, the consequences of the invasion were under-estimated;
  • Planning and preparations for Iraq after Saddam’s fall were ‘wholly inadequate’;
  • Mr Blair’s government failed to achieve its stated objectives.

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Mark L Thomas giving his talk.

MEETING 2: WOMEN, SOCIAL REPRODUCTION AND THE FAMILY

This meeting, with main speaker Sally Campbell (editor of Socialist Review magazine, and author of Rosa Luxemburg: A Rebels Guide) and chaired by Ruby Kirsch was also very interesting and lively.

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Sally (left as you view the picture) and Ruby preparing for the meeting
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Sally giving her talk

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THE OPENING RALLY 

Finally in terms of first day meetings came the Opening Rally, at 7PM in the Logan Hall. We heard from a variety of workers who have been involved in struggles in various places (as well as speakers from the UK this panel included an Irish TD and a French railway worker. Perhaps most impressive were Victor and Juan, two cleaners who spoke by way of a translator, and who have been part of an all out strike in the heart of the City. After all these amazing contributions Amy Leather (organiser of the Marxism festival) made the last speech. The whole thing was superbly chaired by Emma Davis, a teacher.

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The whole panel of speakers
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Emma Davis calls the meeting to order
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Emma introducing the first speaker.

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ACCOMODATION

The person who had put me up last year had offered to do so again this year. Unfortunately he could not attend the opening day of the festival, so we had arranged a meeting point at the Rose and Crown on Hoe Street, which I located without undue difficulty.