Archive for the ‘Bloomsbury’ Category

by Natalie Bennett

There was an excellent turnout and a bouyant mood yesterday at a rally for the University of London cleaners who are campaigning for holiday and sick pay and pensions – following their victory last year in winnning the living wage.

Students, academics and fellow workers were backing the cleaners – as were representatives from the University of Sussex occupation, who made the link between privatisation and poor working conditions. Privatisation needs to be resisted, and the fact that organisations can’t wipe their hands of responsibility for workers’ conditions by outsourcing them were highlighted.


I tweeted about my support for the campaign – and one response was “haven’t they already got sick and holiday pay and pensions?” – well exactly!

I spoke briefly at the rally as it marched around Senate House – incidentally as we stopped opposite the Briitish Museum back entrance. Chinese tourists there were taking photos – I don’t know what they made of it all!

You can show your support on Facebook and follow the campaign on Twitter.

And there are lots of excellent pictures from yesterday here and here.


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By Natalie Bennett

Yesterday, as every year on August 6, Tavistock Square became a solemn place, a sad place, but also a place of resolution, as London CND held its annual Hiroshima Day commemoration.

The resolve was to continue to fight against these hideous weapons, particularly against Britain’s nuclear weapons.

The high turnout, certainly the biggest I have seen, perhaps in part reflected the fact that the is a feeling that austerity, with all of its social horrors, might at least hold out new hopes of UK disarmament.

When even very traditionalist defence experts are calling for Britain to abandon nuclear weapons, if only on cost grounds, the political ground is certainly shifting.

There were two participants who held more memories than most people present.

The veteran peace campaigner Hetty Bower, aged 106, pictured in the crowd right, said: “We have got to grow up and stop killing each other.”

MP Tony Benn said nuclear weapons are no use, we can’t afford them, and they not really independent of US. “We must get rid of them.”


Green MEP Jean Lambert,  pictured right, highlighted the almost casual acceptance of India’s nuclear weapons (with real politic proponents saying “we need a bulwark against China), contrasting it with the view of Pakistan.

She said that existing weapons states need to break the stalemate on non-proliferation. It was time we put down bombs and worked for peace, she said.

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11am-1pm, Saturday 10th March
Starting from the People’s Supermarket, 72-78 Lamb’s Conduit Street, Bloomsbury, WC1N 3LP

To mark Fairtrade Fortnight (27th Feb–11th Mar) there will be a Walk for Fairtrade through the borough of Camden on Saturday 10th March.

The theme of Fairtrade Fortnight is ‘Take a step for Fairtrade’. It can be a simple step, like swapping your tea or coffee at home to Fairtrade, or a bigger step, like hosting your own Fairtrade chocolate tasting party!

There’ll be a yummy Fairtrade Breakfast from 10am at The People’s Supermarket. Then the walk sets off at 11am, arriving at Thorntons Budgens in Belsize Park for a celebratory photo around 1pm.

Organisers ask if you let them know you’re planning to come along: camdenfairtrade@googlemail.com / 07815 771 939

There’s also a Debate:’ Does Fairtrade Really Work’ at 7pm, People’s Supermarket, 72-78 Lambs Conduit St, February 29.

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Good news, the Marchmont Community Gardens, next to the Brunswick Centre, has officially opened to the public this weekend. It’s nice to see a new slice of peace and quiet in Camden – more please!

Here’s the story of how it came about.

Marchmont Community Gardens open at last

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by Natalie Bennett

Excellent news that the Strand Union Workhouse might get a reprieve. London needs to preserve its history, and the residents of central London need to be reassured that their very presence and history is understood and accepted as an integral part of the area’s future.

This is home, and community to a great many, and should not be regarded as simply new ground for chain store retailers, expansionar institutions and expensive pied-a-terres.

Sensitively developed into affordable (preferably council) housing, the sad early history of the site could be both acknowledged and transcended.

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On Tuesday, I spoke at the Charlotte Street Association hustings. It was an exciting night, with the Lib Dems and Tories coming under heavy attack from the audience for their decision to expand South Camden Community School instead of building a new school south of the Camden Road.

Ten of the twelve main party candidates were there, and an audience big enough to leave standing room only in the Drill Hall bar area.

Education and housing were major issues, but with the audience mostly coming from Fitzrovia, the most vital questions were about planning, planning enforcement, and the steady drive to turn Fitzrovia into an extension of Covent Garden. The creeping rise in late licenses, the failure to offer a 24-hour noise hotline, and the danger posed by Derwent Partnership’s ‘improvement’ schemes are the biggest issues threatening an area where it often seems that Camden Council has forgotten people actually live.

As you would expect, the candidates from all the parties were saying that they would resist development, and the destruction of the character of the most lovely area of Central London. But it’s easy to be a Green in these situations. We are the one party who can confidentally stand up and say we do not believe in growth and profit for their own sake, allowing them to ride roughshod over people’s lives, that the plans of organisations like the Fitzrovia Partnership have nothing to recommend them, and that we are prepared to fight them not just at a ward level, but at a council, a London-wide and even a national level.

At the hustings, Fitzrovia residents made it clear that Camden Council has treated it as an area where business and commerce are more important than residents. This has gone on for four years under the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, and for decades before that under Labour. However their local candidates spin it, Bloomsbury is doomed to a steady erosion of everything we love about it if Camden Council remains controlled by these three parties.

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The Green chair of the London Assembly, Darren Johnson, on the 20% rise in bus fares

Darren Johnson letter

Letter from campaigner Cathryn Symons about the proposed medical lab in Somers Town in CNJ.

Letter from Bloomsbury campaigner Sam Bueno de Mesquita in CNJ about the importance of “bike boxes” & driver education.

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