Friday, 29 May 2009

Guest post: attendee at John Bull Centre Hustings

For the first time, I have agreed to publish a guest post at the Lurking about SE11 blog.

Obviously, I have to publish a disclaimer, since the views presented are not my own, although I have received verification that the guest poster was present at the hustings and is not one of the candidates standing for election.

If any other participants were present at the John Bull Community Centre hustings, and wish to make a counter guest post, I will publish it (so long as it's not defamatory).


Dear SE11'ers

I was at the LGBGT candidate hustings last night and was utterly shocked at the response the Labour candidate gave in response to the question "would he support the use of the old Lilian Baylis site by the the All Nations Church given their teachings on homosexuality as a sin?" In a long winded response, he said that he did support them having the use of the site.

I find it incredible that an openly gay, prospective local goverment Councillor in one of the districts in the UK with a high concentration of LGBGT residents, is in support of such and organisation and has been actively helping them to secure their place on the site.

I hope that the LGBGT community will come out in force and let their elected representatives know that these organsiations have no place in multi-cultural Lambeth and should not be given the use or option of purchasing public spaces for propogating messages of intolerance of any sector of the community, let alone such a huge proportion of the Vauxhall residents.

Your truly
Concerned SE11


Anonymous said...

I was also at the hustings lastnight at not only was the Labour candidate 45 mins late, but when asked questions he said he had to refer to the briefing notes which he had been given. I find it more than just a little worrying that an openly and outwardly gay man who claims to be in touch with the gay scene knows nothing of the issues affecting the LGBT community in his own ward! I'm also appalled that Lambeth Labour are willing to allow a known anti-gay organisation to acquire a prime plot of land in the area purely for financial gain, whilst chucking their "equality commitment" out the window.

Concerned of Kennington.

Anonymous said...

I couldnt attend the hustings because of other commitments.

However, I think it's reasonable for members of the gay community (whatever party they represent) to support (or at least allow) bids by private organisations (be they churches, mosques, synagogues etc.) on pieces of council owned land. Everybody in society has a right to freedom of speech (the gay community, as well as religious communities). A line can be drawn between certain understandings of sexual practice as sin (no doubt most churches would condemn adultery as sin) and suggesting that an organistion promotes homophobia.

If it's ok to cruise for gay people to cruise on certain green areas in the vicinity (and nobody seeks to stop such use of the land), then it must be ok for the council to offer to sell a building to a religious organisation.

Isn't there any room for live and let live?

Anonymous said...

I was there - on time too! I thought the way the Labour guy just supported the Labour line no matter what was BORING! I couldn't believe he was so happy to sell out the gay village to the homophobic evangelical nuts - awful.

You can't beat John Roberts on the gay issues - he gets my vote even if I might vote green in the Euro elections.

Anonymous said...

It's difficult to balance the vastly different voting blocks in this area. The fliers of all parties show them gunning to hit hot buttons of the groups that will show up en masse at the polls - even if they aren't truly their issues.

The pitch for council tenants is the thing that bugs me. They absolutely must get their vote so they campaign on rent risers, fees, dogs, etc. Whereas they do little to speak to those of us who pay full rents/ mortgages and high taxes to pay for said services. I understand why. They need the numbers.

Anonymous said...

I am worried that we have a live and let live approach being suggested here by a altruistic and somewhat naive blogger.

Why dont we just let the BNP and far right organisations take the plot and see how that rests within the BME communities in Kennington?

One of the other charities that is working out of that site is contemplating withdrawing because of the message that this religious organisation promotes its followers to believe do not match the ethos of the organisation.

If we have a live and let live approach, could it apply to those who have committed a crime against the community (murder, rape, violent assault etc) to roam the street as we should live and let live?

We have fought for years for the rights we have. We have the right to the same protection, under law, that any other part of the community does. We are not a second class of hate crime victim.

Live and let live is OK if you are not having to live in the fear of abuse from people because of their religious beliefs.

I take it you are not living near the site too..... as then you would know just how much anti-social behaviour there is on the weekends with blaring music, cars parked everywhere (illegally) as there are no wardens to ticket, loud music all day long and into the evenings, kids screaming and shouting up and down the street.

Anonymous said...

This Labour "Yes-man" seems to say "yes" to everyone - not just his Labour masters. You wonder if there's anyone he WOULDN'T sell the old school site to.

But he doesn't realise WE LIVE HERE and WE should say what happens.

Mark Harrison said...

In response to these comments:

I was late because I was told by the organiser that the hustings began at 7:30pm, not 7pm.

Saying I 'know nothing of the issues affecting the LGBT community in my own ward' is an absurd comment. A hostile questioner was listing a a huge number of intiatives he claimed funding was being cut from. I can't be expected to know the details of every initative off the top of my head. I was pointing out that the Labour Council has an strong commitment to diversity and to supporting the LGBT community, as the large number of initatives in my briefing notes demonstrated.

As I said at the hustings, the All Nations Centre is a part of our community, whether people like it or not. They do good work in our community, and want to do more by being part of a communty trust that provides services on the site.

There is obviously a concern about their attitude to LGBT people, but I think they should have a chance to defend themselves before people rush to judgement. In order to be part of a community trust that buys the site and provides services they will have to comply with the Council's equality and diversity policies. As one of the previous commenters said, there is a distinction between a church teaching that homosexuality is wrong (which most do), and actively preaching hatred and inciting violence. If a church is doing the former then surely it is better to engage positively with them to effect change, rather than hysterially dismissing virtually all religious groups in our community.

I live directly opposite the site as well but I have no automatic opposition to the ANC using it. Why would I?

At the moment three partners (Sports Action Zone, Ethelred Nursery and ANC) are working together to put together a plan to set up a community trust - residents and community groups will be consulted further before anything goes ahead. I fully expect local people from community organisations will be invited to take part in the governance of the site, once the arrangements for governance are agreed.

What is most important to me is that the good work of the Sports Action Zone continues on the site. I support the current plans as they seem the best way to achieve that at best value to council tax payers.

Finally I strongly object to the way different parts of our community are being played against each other for electoral purposes.

Anonymous said...

Mark's comments are outrageous, firstly all the posters and e mails said it was 7pm start, all the other candidates know it, and were there, or is the truth that Mark just couldn't be bothered? Marks comments about the church makes him sound like a hypocrite. (talk about internalising your own homophobia)he said on the church " they can preach what they want as long as it is within closed doors" yes Mark but it does not stay behind closed doors and incitred to hatred is a hate crime. which you would know if you had bothered to read Lambeth's hate crime strategy. He said know nothing of the council hate crime strategy(hardly a small initiative and could not talk about any of the issues affect the lgbt community in Vauxhall, but he is happy to go down the pub and enjoy a drink in the Vauxhall gay village knowing he is selling us out. More appalling is that labour will throw their own equalities committment out of the window for money, so that a church can set up shop on a community site. How much are they paying for it. oh thats right Mark does not know that detail either or how Lambeth chose the three partners. The lib Dem man even said that the Ethelred TMO board voted agaist the ANC church using the site and Mark is meant to be an "active member" on their board, and he didn't even now that. Even the Tory guy made a effort with understanding our concerns. for that matter at least the English Democrat said he was willing to listen to our concerns.

fucking labour is fucking up Britain. I am sure the UK will be on E bay before long if they don't call for a national election. Maybe the French might buy us!!

vive la revolution !!!!

Anonymous said...

Unlike Mark Harrison, I saw that John Roberts didn't need any briefing notes and knew of all the initatives that Lambeth council and the police have been involved in over the last few year.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry - I could not sit back and see this go any further. I look forward to seeing Marks responses to the following:

1) The Church does good works in the community – Please provide a list of the good works that the church has done and how that has helped all areas of the community irrespective of their race, creed, religion, sexual orientation etc and how they would be willing to support LGBT community to use the site for, as was mentioned at the husting the other night, a Black Gay Pride event? If you can show some evidence, then people may want to engage more on the issues surrounding the All Nations Church taking a stake in the site for the true benefit of the community and not just to create a super Church. However, at the moment, there is no evidence to support what you are saying.

2) What would you do, as a local Councillor, to deal with the anti-social behaviour issues that seem to accompany this organisation on the days of service? Currently there are lots of complaints from residents to the noise complaints department at Lambeth, who do not seem to be taking this issue seriously - and Members Enquiries have been submitted on this. How would you propose we move forward on this particular issue? I can supply a copy of the letter sent in as a Members enquiry if you need it.

3) The attendees of the church (and I don’t care that they are from this organisation as I would feel the same about any members of any congregation that broke the law) are driving down one way streets and parking their cars there which is contravention of the highway code and therefore illegal - are not being ticketed, let alone stopped and prosecuted? How can an over stretched Lambeth council police this flagrant breach of the law?

4) “Lambeth would draw up a contract to ensure that their equality policies and standards are complied with” Great news. However, given that Lambeth currently have countless contracts with service providers that they cannot get a grip on (and the financial implications are enormous!), how do you propose that Lambeth would prioritise complaints about some noise and equality issues when it does not cost the council anything nor bring in any revenue????
The current track record is shocking and so I don’t hold any hope on this suggestion at all - all for the purpose of ticking boxes and getting the £10million in the bank I think. But Mark - prove me wrong and I will apologise!

5) You stated clearly, at that husting, that you supported this organisation taking over the site, and that you said “what they preach within their four walls of their organisation is their business”: What you failed to gauge was that if you teach anti homosexual teachings, they simply do not stay within the room in which they were taught. We all know that.

6) The Community Trust that IS IN THE PROCESS OF BEING SET UP and then would be shared with residents and community groups etc for their feedback.
Surely it would make more sense to consult first and save the Nursery, Sport Aid and the Church all the time and effort and cost BEFORE you consult the neighbours? They are poor community organisations after all. This just smacks of the continued inefficient approach to everything that Lambeth is doing and the group that you are part of!

7) Lambeth is paying consultants (TPAS) thousands of pounds to work out the Lambeth Compact which will clearly lay out how Lambeth will consult with residents, tenants and leasehold councils, community groups and other stake holders in the borough on issues that affect them. Given the audit commissions’ damming report on Lambeth, and in particular, how they have failed to engage with stakeholders in the borough, then this further backs their findings. Amazing!
Sadly this is not a legally binding document, rather one that needs to be done for the ALMO to get the £200 million, and so fat chance of it actually being adhered to. So, consultation is really not a priority for Lambeth in any shape or form.

Anonymous said...


On other points Mark, about playing one off against the other, I have to say that I really think those in glass houses should not throw stones.
Your party’s elected representative, Sam Townend, has been living in Bristol for over a year now and has been the Labour Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for one of the Bristol areas. However, he has been taking a salary of £10K per annum (plus expenses) funded by Lambeth Council Tax payers whilst living in Bristol and doing very little, if any, Lambeth casework.
Your latest leaflet today accused John of not living in the borough. You know full well that is a LIE as he lives around he corner from you and you have known him for ages and you have been working on the Ethelred TMO for some time now. So how can John live in North Kent when he is here all the time for meetings?
So I ask that you do not start on the road of claiming that other parties are lying etc.
While I am on a rant, I should also ask you to clarify exactly how you managed to get the reduction in Council rents when all our other elected representatives failed? The Chairperson of Tenants Council is dumfounded that you have been stating that this reduction is down to you. Have you any evidence to support your claims? And have you even met with her? If you felt so passionately about this reduction, why were you not out there today marching with Tenants Council to protest the 17% increases in rent if you were so successful on getting that reduction? You would have been welcomed like a hero if you had actually been the man responsible for the reduction!
As for concierge services in Penwith Manor – you attended one meeting and have ignored residents’ communications since. So whilst you may “support” their call for an evening Concierge service, there isn’t a huge amount that has not been done there by you now is there? Please be honest in you claims.

So Mark, I was willing to have an open mind to your policies in the past, however, given the inaccuracies and the inability to provide solid truth behind your statements at the hustings, I feel I cannot sit quietly and watch anymore.
I am asking that you answer my points – and I will honour my pledge of a public apology if what I have written is not right, but I suspect that I may not have to.

Anonymous said...

I will be voting Conservative, which as recently as 2 years ago would've seemed impossible. It's not just the national Labour party ills, it's the steady stream of half-truth leaflets from Labour. Lambeth generally needs the financial discipline and focus on expecting a bit more PERSONAL responsibility championed by Conservatives. I hate for the most vunerable to face rent rises, etc. but I also would like to see those of us who pay our full share get a decent service, too. And for those who get free/subsidised housing to maybe, just maybe, take a little responsibility in maintaining it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Annonymous - the Lib Dems are doing exactly what you want - which is encouraging communities to take responsibility of their own neighbourhoods etc.

However, money is needed to encourage that regeneration and care taking. The conservatives are a party of cuts. So it might be worth asking the question - how would they archive "community devolution" and with what funds?

I would be interested in hearing thier views/policies.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but Lib Dem is too far left for me. I'm not a target voter in this election. I own my home, pay full whack on taxes of all kinds, etc. I'm the 'bad guy'. Lib Dems think I should pay even more to build more social housing for people to destroy. How about cutting funds, then enacting means testing for tenants? No more council flats for life and beyond (kids can stay forever too, and so on and so on?) It's a start. Lambeth ought to find ways of getting out of being everybodies landlord. Not building even more black hole empires.

Joseph said...

Unfortunately I was unable to attend the LGBT hustings on Thursday night but I sent my aplogies and a statement on LGBT issues, which I hope was read out at the meeting.

As an openly gay candidate myself, I am increasingly concerned about New Labour's buck passing on LGBT issues. They frequently tell us that they are supporint the LGBT community, but when push comes to shove, as in this case with the school, they are prepared to back homophobic faith organisations.

As the Green candidate, I have been upfront in my leaflets and am the only candidate who has specificlaly said in my leaflet that I oppose funding or support for any organisation which is homophobic or holds views which exclude any other part of the community.

Would Mark Harrison take this view if Lilian Baylis was being used to house a racist organisation? Of course not. So it is simply not good to enough to countenance homophobia which can lead to hate crime in an area with a large LGBT population. I have nailed my colours to the mast and I hope that other candidates will too. I am sure that John Roberts for the Lib Dems will, but should have said something in his leaflet.

I also came across another dirty tricks leaflet today while out leafleting in Princes, claiming that the Lib Dem candidate lives in Whitstable. Please Labour, we are sick and tired of your bankrupt sniping at other candidates. Either stand on your record or don't stand at all. God knows what they have been telling people about me.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to see that the latest leaflet from John Roberts had endorsements from several people at the hustings, including the organiser. Could the hostility to the Labour candidate be down to the fact it was full of Lib Dem activists?

I'm not sure I'm happy for the LGBT community to be represented by people in this way, especially by attacking other groups in our area.

Anonymous said...

i spoke to the lib Dem candidate after the meeting and me and my partner said after hearing him, we, would support him because he seemed to know what he was talking about. He asked if we would be in a pic to endorse John robert(?) and i agreed. why didn't the labour person ask or talk to people after. also it was a public meeting so why didn't labour gays turn up, greens and tories did.

Anonymous said...

I've read all the comments and thought I would wait until now to add my comments.

First, I 'may' have been the 'hostile questioner' - which I find a very strange title to give me as all I was doing was asking him about Labour's records on LGBT equality within the Borough and he couldn't respond to me on what EXACTLY this Labour administration had done for the LGBT Community - whereas I could give him a list of non-activities where they have failed the LGBT Community.

I was also amazed that the Green Candidate couldn't be bothered to turn up - I heard that his Euro Election hustings was more important - didn't realise he was also standing as an MEP.

With regards to the All Nations Church - I raised the issue of whether or not Mark would also allow the BNP / National Front / other racist organisations to use / purchase Council Buildings (because what they say behind closed doors is up to them) and he didn't respond.

I personally found Mark woefully ill-prepared and unsuitable to represent a community he so CLEARLY has no idea or feeling of the concerns that affect them.

With regards to the 'live and let live' - yes, that's fine - however why not ask the ANC what they would do to support the LGBT community so that the Old Lilian Baylis site is for the benefit for the WHOLE community - including the LGBT community.

Joseph said...

Everyone else on here seems to be Anonymous, so I suppose they are supporters of the other two parties.

I am accused of "not bothering" to turn up. I only learnt of the hustings a day or two ahead and I was already booked to appear at another hustings as part of the Green Party's Euro team in London. I sent an apology and a statement which I asked the organisers to read out at the meeting. I also tried to get the Convenor of Lambeth Green Party, who is a lesbian, to attend in my stead, but she had childcare issues. I did not think it right to ask for a heterosexual member of the party to attend in my place.

Also, I was the only candidate to attend the hustings organised by the Lambeth Disability Forum on the same day - the other parties sent councillors to represent them. So it is just a question of logistics and not being able to be everywhere. Furthermore, as I have pointed out, I have menetioned LGBT issues on my leaflet, which the others have not. It is easy to be pro-LGBT at a specialist hustings and then not to mention the issue anywhere else. I have been above board from the beginning.

Steve said...

Hi all

I was at two of the hustings last week and I felt that there were loads of local issues raised that some candidates were better at responding to than others.

I only have issue with candidates making false claims about what they have done to serve the local community. These candidates know who they are and they will be found out in time like their predecessors.

We may not always get the answers we want as a community, however, we do deserve fair and honest consultation on all the issues rather than underhanded dealings behind our back.

I urge whomever gets elected to remember that the role of a Councilor is to represent their constituents at all times and not to serve their own interests (financial gain or political career moves etc) I want to see someone stand who is committed to Kennington and not looking at this as a stepping stone to a MPship or MEP role. We deserve more!

We have elections again next spring, so this year will be a chance for our Councilor elect to show that they have the matter we need to fight our corner in the Town Hall.

So show us what you are made of and lets see some work being done and less of the claims of this and that. It is exhausting and childish.

Sid Boggle said...

Steve, you make good points, as does Joseph. I see (albeit from Tory literature) that Steve Morgan, who to be fair has listened and tried to engage some of the local 'black hole empires' in setting up TRAs and taking some responsibility for their environments, is heading up the greasy pole as Labour PPC in Orpington. We need councillors who will commit to this area, not see it as a career stepping-stone. Sorry Steve M, you probably won't be here next year, and we'll wind up with that grinning suit who doorstepped me the other evening. No thanks.
And I have to say, the campaign Labour has run is filthy up to its neck. They persist with this rubbish that the Lib Dems come third in Princes - when I challenged this on the doorstep, I got a shifty grin from the canvasser - and when I mentioned CCTV and better security on White Hart Street, lo and behold, Harrison's most recent propaganda claims he's working for this as part of his efforts to engage every council estate in the ward. Well, we don't have a functioning TRA, so I'd like to know who he's talking to and who he's engaged with, since I've been making much of the noise about driving dealing out of the estate, and he ain't talking to me.
Whoever I vote for on Thursday, it won't be him, or any other party-signed-off chancer who won't walk the walk.

Steve said...

Dear Sid et All!

Well said!

I was at a fledgling TRA meeting this evening at Penwith Manor and Steve Reed (Leader for the Council) was delivering leaflets to the estate on behalf of Mark's campaign.

I asked him to come and say Hello to the three members who are trying so hard to get their TRA up and running and he point blankly refused as he "was only here to deliver the leaflets".

It was such a shame that he did not make time to pop his head round the door and say Hi to these members of the community who are giving up their time as volunteers for the betterment of their neighbours and Estate.

In fact - he looked startled and out of his depth and unsure of what he knew about TRA's etc.

A few weeks ago, Mark Harrison met with this TRA and has happily said in public how much he has been doing to help them with their issues on Concierge services etc, yet he has not responded to thier emails.

I really think this was a poor showing of Labour to go to a meeting and lead the TRA to believe that they were willing to try and do something to help and then not even respond to their requests.

As for Steve M, I also heard that, and as someone already commented on our Green candidate, how can we realistically rely on a Councilor who has ulterior plans to move on at the next election if Orpington will take him for MP?

Seems there will be another seat that Labour will be relinquishing in Princes in May 2010 which may or may not be a bad thing.

I will say it again - I want to see someone who really believes in Kennington, the residents, community groups and wants to do the right thing by us and will stop bullshitting us on literature that is factually incorrect and defamatory.


Fed up with Fib Dems said...

I am very disappointed that the operator of this blog allowed an anonymous post to be written which was so blatantly from a Lib Dem. The LGBT business forum meeting was a disgrace - the organiser, who is on Lib Dem leaflets, deliberately told Mark the wrong time. And the idea that Lambeth Council can ignore a bid from a church group is ridiculous - imagine the uproar if they refused to deal with Muslims, or the Catholic Church, both of which have aborrent views on gay people.

As for the last post, that is just pathetic. Mark has been attending Penwith Manor TRA meetings for months, not just during the byelection campaign - as he has for all estates. Unlike John Roberts, who only rediscovered his 'passion' for the area after being selected as the Lib Dem candidate...

Spare me future Lib Dem bleatings please 3 wheeled one.

Steve said...

Dear fed up.

I think you need to ask the TRA at Penwith Manor ..... they have only one record of Mark attending a meeting and that was last month.

Enough said.

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