Monthly Archives: August 2008

McCamden Council Set to Flog Parks

An artist’s impression of how Hampstead Heath may look under the new scheme.

Those fine arbiters of good taste at Camden Council are considering selling sponsorship deals on the Borough’s parks.  In a move which could see Regents Park rebranded as Nikeland  or Primrose Hill renamed Primula Hill, finance chiefs reckon they can pocket half a million from deals to allow corporate sponsorship of the Borough’s green spaces.

And given the track record of local councils it very likely will be the finance chiefs themselves who pocket the cash.

Lib Dem Councillor Ralph Scot, who recently had ‘Coke is it’ tattooed onto his forehead claims that:

“If Nike, for example, came to us and said that they could pay for some equipment in schools or our leisure facilities and in return they could use our open spaces or have a logo somewhere in a couple of parks, that is something we could explore.”

Equally concerning to locals are plans to allow corporations to hire out parks and open spaces for public events.  In what will be a temporary land-grab, chinless city boys and media luvvies will be able to close off the park from local people to hold nazi-themed sex orgies or whatever else gets corporate bigwig’s rocks off.

Plans are also afoot to allow advertising on Council Estates and to allow advertisements to be hung from lamposts.

We know what we’d rather see hanging from the lamposts.

Free London – Saturday 30th – Sunday 31st August

Quick one this week due to general busyness and self-inflicted illness.

On Saturday Liberty Festival 2008 will see London’s Trafalgar Square transformed into an accessible performance space showcasing the talents of Deaf and disabled artists.

Then on Sunday Brockwell Park hosts the Urban Green Fair where you can:

“Join us for a festival with a difference. Learn about current environmental issues and solutions, discover practical innovations in sustainable living and reducing climate change and, of course, have fun!”

Expect workshops, stalls, kids’s activities and films – no bar, but plenty of good, cheap Brixton offies in the area.

London Free School kicks off on Monday now held at RamARTS, Rampart St, E1 and offers a week of workshops, films and general edukashional activity running until Sunday 7th Sept.  For the full programme go to : http://londonfreeschool.wordpress.com/

There’s the usual free stuff on the Thames with performances, theatre and culture at the More London and Watch This Space ongoing festivals.

For those who’ve recovered from Notting Hill, Kingston Carnival takes place on Sunday 31st with two stages of live music attracting 20,000 people.

Also on Sunday Shoreditch Grand Prix sees a tractor race round the streets of Shoreditch.

And that’s really all we can be bothered to find right now, have a good ‘un.

FIT Team Photographers Earn More Than Coppers!

Well, it was like getting blood out of a stone but we finally got some answers from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) about the FIT team photographers who’ve been following activists and footie fans round for the last few years.

As we’d already revealed the FIT Teams are not comprised of freelancers as some had suspected, but neither are they in any way coppers.  According to the MPS:

“The MPS does not recruit photographers specifically for FIT duties. All photographers are employed in a generic photographic capacity, later deployment in a FIT role is dependent on them volunteering to undertake this role and attaining the required physical fitness and skills required.”

That’s right folks the bastards volunteer.

And who can blame the money grabbing voyeurs.  The MPS tell us that there are 10 Band P and 2 Band V forensic practitioners that undertake FIT duties as part of their general Scene of Crime duties.

The salary of a Band V MPS employee is £32,455 rising to £38,058 and the 10 Band P snappers are paid between £26,336 and £32,455.  With lowly constables starting on a salary of £29,847 on completion of training this seems a cushy option for blokes who stand around taking pictures all day.

And they are all blokes.  The MPS and all public bodies have a duty by law to ensure a diverse workforce and boast in their Race Equality Scheme of recruitment initiatives targeting festivals, the minority press and even the Chinese Society Ball!

Now far be it for us to call the MPS a bunch of racist bastards but this fluffy inclusivity doesn’t seem to apply to the goons who are increasingly being used to photograph, harrass and intimidate kids from ethnic communities. We weren’t shocked to discover that all 12 photographers who undertake FIT Team duties are white males.

The MPS tell us the last external recruitment of photographers was way back in February 2004 with positions advertised in the London Evening Standard and Job Centre Plus. Since then:

“The MPS has been able to recruit photographers by advertising internally and utilising the skills and knowledge demonstrated by the successful candidates.”

Which basically means jobs for the boys.

Finally they weren’t able to give us the entire budget for FIT team operations which was a bit of a cop out.  With the salaries listed above, plus on-costs and other ongoing recruitment costs we can make a vague guess that the photographers alone are costing the London taxpayer at the very least half a million a year.

Which is yet another price we pay for the ever encroaching police state.

The full response from the MPA can be read below or for the full story head to the useful and fun whatdotheyknow.com
“Dear Mr Void,

Freedom of Information Request Reference No: 2008080003501

I respond in connection with your request for information dated 12/08/2008 which was received by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) on 12/08/2008.

Following receipt of your request searches were conducted within the MPS to locate information relevant to your request. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by the MPS.

EXTENT OF SEARCHES TO LOCATE INFORMATION

To locate the information relevant to your request searches were conducted within the Specialist Crime Directorate.

DECISION

I have today decided to disclose the located information to you in full.

The pay scale that FIT Team photographers work under. To clarify, the starting annual salary and the top rate of salary for a FIT Team Photographer.

The salary of a Band P MPS employee is £26,336 rising to £32,455.

The annual salary of the highest paid FIT Team photographers.

The salary of a Band V MPS employee is £32,455. rising to £38,058.

The total budget for FIT Team photographers is, ie the combined salaries, on-costs and other expenses relating to their employment.

The MPS does not recruit photographers specifically for FIT duties. All photographers are employed in a generic photographic capacity, later deployment in a FIT role is dependent on them volunteering to undertake this role and attaining the required physical fitness and skills required.  There is no specific budget for a FIT photographer as this is only one element of photographic output within a multi skilled team.

There are currently 2 Band V and 10 Band P forensic practitioners that undertake FIT duties as part of their general Scene of Crime duties.

Where and how FIT Team Photographers are recruited. Are these posts advertised for in publications that
are widely read in line with good equal opportunities practice?

The MPS has been able to recruit photographers by advertising internally and utilising the skills and knowledge demonstrated by the successful candidates.

A list of publications which have been used to advertise these positions and failing that explain as
thoroughly as you are able exactly how these photographers are recruited?

The last external recruitment for photographers was in February 2004 and the position was advertised in the London Evening Standard and Job Centre Plus.

A breakdown of the ethnicity and gender of FIT photographers.

There are currently 12 staff that undertake FIT duties, all of whom are white males.”

Ugly mob descends on Carnival

Gangs of armed thugs descended on Notting Hill Carnival at the weekend with the sole intent of causing trouble. Some carried batons and CS Gas as they attacked and harrassed revellers throughout the day. Others used dogs bred for violence and built makeshift military style watchtowers to launch attacks on the public.

Most wore distinctive clothing fuelling fears that they may be some kind of street gang. Some even had helmets in an attempt to conceal their indentity.

One Carnival goer told us:

“Throughout the day gangs of armed men wandered the streets looking for trouble. I saw countless people wrestled to the ground, searched and verbally harrassed by these groups who seemed hellbent on ruining the event for ordinary Londoners. Several people had drugs stolen, were injured or in some cases beaten and thrown into the back of vans by snarling, vicious thugs.”

Later in the day several people attempted to drive these gangs off the streets which resulted in running battles. Over 300 people have been reported missing with several believed to be injured.

In a seperate incident a breakway sect of gang-members staged a mass kidnap of almost 200 teenagers in Oval, South London. Young people were dragged to the ground and detained for the duration of Notting Hill Carnival.

It’s feared that several of these crimes may have a racial motive however a spate of incidents involving the bullying, harrassment and assault of young, working class people from all ethnic groups has led some to call for outright revolt on the streets of London.

Below, one of the vicious thugs with his identity concealed and wearing known ‘gang colours’

Free London – Saturday 23rd – Sunday 24th August

Well, the festival’s season’s almost over and there’s really only one show in town this weekend.  Notting Hill Carnival begins on Sunday with the less hectic family day followed by full on madness on Monday 25th.  For a full soundsystem list go here.

Beach Blanket Babylon on 45 Ledbury Road and The Fat Badger Pub, 310 Portobello Road are both holding after parties which are free to get in before 6pm.  For more after parties check here.

The South Bank Centre marks the carnival with Sweet Inspirations choral group who will be giving a workshop in calypsos and Caribbean folksongs on Sunday at 1.30pm.

Also on the South Bank check out free theatre, music and performance at the Watch This Space and More London festivals.

Elsewhere on Sunday the Olympic (thank God they’re over) Handover will take place on the Mall.  Along with assorted Boris cronies and various corporate schmucks a few thousand of the great unwashed have been unlucky enough to watch the like of Will Young and McFly in the shadow of Buckingham Palace.

Sponsored by credit-crunchers VISA, this hellhole of an event can be viewed by the plebs on various big screens acroos the capital and if you’re really desperate go here to find one near you.

Meanwhile Shoreditch Festival continues, where the Royal Philharmonic will be boring the pants off the fine folk of Hackney in Shoreditch Park on Saturday (23rd) whilst Sunday sees a 1948 themed party on Hoxton Street.  Bring powdered eggs, rickets and misogyny.

An anti-olympic picnic will also be held in Soreditch Park on Sunday at 1pm, look for the banners.

Trafalgar Square Festival is thankfully dropping the Olympic Theme for their last week and features a fashion show:

“Creating a spectacular journey through an A – Z of famous London landmarks, Miss High Leg Kick presents a theatrical fashion show starring a cast of characters modelling the styles of London in an ultra glamorous celebration of the everyday.”

Spanish dance company Factoria Mascaro will also be performing.  All performances start at 1pm and 6pm and are shown on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

On Friday 22nd ska legends The Trojans are playing a free gig at the Hootananny Brixton on Effra Road (the Hobgoblin to us) which starts at 10pm.

Housmans Bookshop are showing ‘Territorio Pacificado’, a film about paramilitary repression in Colombia on Saturday at 5pm whilst at the same venue on Monday Uri Gordon will be discussing his new book Anarchy Alive at 6pm.

the void is hoping to be out of town for the weekend and blogging will now stay light until September.

Doherty Banned – Cops Close Festival!

Say what you like about his music but the news that the old bill have trashed the Moonfest event to prevent Pete Doherty’s band Babyshambles taking to the stage is a worrying step.

Not content with telling people how, if and when they can protest it seems that the cops now want to act as censors of the type of music we enjoy as well.

According to Moonfest’s website:

“Using section 160 of the licensing act 2003, the magistrates revoked our licence for Friday 29th August. With Pete and Babyshambles being our headlining act for the weekend, this draconian action taken by the Police make it impossible to run the event at the end of August.”

This decision was taken after Wiltshire old bill decided that the band’s tendency to “speed up and then slow down the music” could create a “whirlpool effect” and spark disorder.  Which is fucking nonsense.

Event organiser John Green offers a more plausible explanation claiming police told him privately that they hate the fact Doherty lives in Wiltshire and they don’t want him on their patch.

In 1994 the Tories introduced the Criminal Justice Act which made it a potential offence to play music consisting of repetitive beats at night, an act rightly condemned and marking the first time in British history that a genre of music was effectively criminalised.

It seems that the police and their chummy masonic mates on the Magistrate’s Bench want to take that one step further.  Event organisers take note, your gig may be prone to censorship and cancellation should the local Chief-Super decide he doesn’t like the lead singer much.

Vote Green!

Just kidding …

The Daily (maybe) have just released their annual list of the top 20 green blogs and we come in this year at, an unlucky for some, 13th place.  Beating reformist traitors like Jenny Jones of the Green Party we’re still languishing behind the likes of Peter Tatchell and other fake friends to socialists.

The good news is that that bastard Monbiot is clearly out of the race and several of the other blogs are well worth a read.  Whether it’s the latest techniques in advanced yoghurt weaving or where to buy an ethically sourced RPG then the Green blogosphere is out in force to teach all you fine folks how you too can enjoy a capitalist, middle class lifestyle without feeling so damn guilty all the time.

It really is as simple as buying fair trade Lima Beans, wearing hemp underwear and occasionally paying someone to plant a tree for you.

If you read the Guardian you will have already realised that most poor people deserve it, what with all that having children and eating lard.  And now some fucking peasants in a goddamned third world backwater want to spoil the party by thinking they have the right to burn our oil in whatever kind of godless contraption they see fit.

Don’t they realise how quaint they look hand-picking organic cotton to be flogged off on Stoke Newington High Street for the price of a Butlins Holiday?  They’ll be wanting televisions next!

And as for the oiks currently invading the well kept streets of middle England, well if only they’d worked hard at school like us then they’d really have nothing to worry about and could get on with the terribly important task of saving the planet.

Which, as everyone knows, you do by buying things.

They’ll be wittering on about class struggle next or heaven of heavens going on strike.  Well they just don’t know how hard it is to get the kids to the Philipino ethically-trafficked and 100% organic childminder whilst keeping up with the blackberry and calculating our carbon foorprints everytime we fart.

And that job in the city’s not going to do itself now is it.

So keep up the good work fellow eco-warriors, and remember if it wasn’t for easyjet we wouldn’t be in this mess and we could carry on our third world tourism without having to come across some grubby chav who frankly could do with a spell of National Service.

Anyway, must dash, there’s a flash mob at the local old folks home.  Apparantly they’ve got the heating on … in the Summer! … selfish bastards.

void disclaimer: sorry, thanks jimjay, we love our greens

And if you like a little red and black to go with your greens then you can vote for the void as the people’s choice over on jimjays blog.

Back in the USSR!

Grumpy Old Anarchist writes:

If there was a Olympic gold for being a dick then Saakashvili, boss of former Georgia, would have walked away with it by a lap and a half.

A week ago Saakasvilli invades Russia with a few of his hundred or so tanks and two dozen jet fighters. Russia’s first strike should have been enough to send him scurrying for a comfy place of exile.  Ivan took out the entire national communications structure:- port, principle road and rail junctions and all the airports except the capital.

Even if Saakasvilli had not heard about the Soviet invasion through Prague International Airport in August 1968, he might just have heard of Napoleon or Hitler; but alas no. Faster than the speed of news agencies, an overwhelmingly successful attack had destroyed the fragile State of Georgia.

The Soviet advance out of the “pockets” that our media had delegated to them confirmed that the USSR, Europe’s tourists in tanks, were back.  This despite the US happy-ending scenario, in which the Evil Empire lost.

Clearly China, not the USA is Russia’s most pressing threat. If it were otherwise this operation would have been staged during the US elections when America not China was in check.

Events are the raw material of realities.  From realities facts are selected.   Socialist War is a contest of realities.  Once Saakasvilli had fallen into the meticulously prepared Soviet illusion-provocation-trap the war was over.

Defeat in Afghanistan does not seem to have damaged Russian military doctrine in the way Vietnam has deprived the USA of the ability to wage war.

Men of the Match:- The Russian air/ground teams bombing display, up close to, but not quite on the oil-pipe. An idea that did not seem to have occurred to the Georgians.

Paul Robeson sings. Marshal Zukhov rides by on a white charger and Stalin can’t stop talking.
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=LtU3vUOa2sw

Free London – Saturday 16th – Sunday 17th August

The obsession with the Olympics marches on this week, even infecting Shoreditch festival which begins on Saturday. Shoreditch Park plays host to a festival called Welcome to the World on Saturday, with two stages, green spaces and kids area, from 1pm.

Then on Sunday the Tour de Hackney will guide cyclists through historic Hackney, taking in green spaces and routes past the Olympic Park site. Meanwhile Shoreditch Park will host cycling competitions, Dr Bike’s workshop, stunt cyclists and most importantly, a bar. Events continue in Shoreditch over the next week.

Elsewhere in town Trafalgar Square Festival reaches it’s second week and is also blathering on about the Olympics. Performances from Thursday 14th – Saturday 17th August aim to capture the ‘the visionary spirit of the Olympics’ and feature Hip Hop inspired dance company Zoo Nation and contemporary circus Aqua.

Just up the road on Sunday (18th) Soho Pride will be taking place, an event which attracted 90,000 revellers last year. Stages and soundsystems will appear in Soho Square, Rupert Street, Dean Street and of course Old Compton Street with the party lasting till 8pm. Due to Boris cutting funding for this event it may be the last one so don’t miss it.

The Southbank Centre has a burlesque Wizard of Oz themed festival on Friday (15th August) night as well as acclaimed jazz influenced singer Barb Jungr live on both Friday and Saturday nights followed by the London Community Gospel Choir on Sunday.

Also on the South Bank check out free theatre, music and performance at the Watch This Space and More London festivals.

Finally Peckham community centre, the Spike Surplus Scheme who have held more than their fair share of free events in the past have issued an emergency press release. Southwark Council are demanding they pay £500,000 to buy the building they occupy by the end of August of face closure.

And outside of London thousands of folk will be heading to Derbyshire to shut down the BNP’s Red, White and Blue festival.

How much do the FIT cost us?

We finally received a response from the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) over the Freedom of Information request we sent a month ago regarding the costs and salaries of FIT team photographers. Basically they didn’t tell us, which might be our fault for incorrectly thinking that FIT Team snappers are freelancers. Turns out that they are directly employed by the MPA.

“I have today decided to disclose the located information to you in full.

All photographers who work with the Forward Intelligence Teams are members of Police staff, no private photographers work with the Forward Intelligence Teams.”

So we’ve clarified our request which can be found below. Keep an eye on whatdotheyknow.com to stay updated.

Dear Mr Kearney,

Thank you for your late and somewhat disengenuos response. That said it is interesting to note that FIT Team photographers are directly employed by the MPA and not freelance as some have speculated.

It should therefore be relatively easy to answer the following questions:

Can you tell me the pay scale that FIT Team photographers work under. To clarify, the starting annual salary and the top rate of salary for a FIT Team Photographer.

Whilst I understand you may not be able to give information on individual employees it may help to shed light on this matter if you were to inform me of the annual salary of the highest paid FIT Team photographer.

Added to that it should prove no problem to tell me what the total budget for FIT Team photographers is, ie the combined salaries, on-costs and other expenses relating to there individual’s employment.

I would further like to ask where and how FIT Team Photographers are recruited. Are these posts advertised for in publications that are widely read in line with good equal opportunities practice?

Could you please provide me with a list of publications which have been used to advertise these positions and failing that explain as thoroughly as you are able exactly how these photographers are recruited?

Finally the MPA’s Equality Statement says that it promotes:

“equality of opportunity irrespective of race, gender, disability, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief, or working arrangement.”

In the spirit of this could you provide a breakdown of the ethnicity and gender of FIT Team photographers so I can ascertain whether this reflects the diversity of Greater London.

Regards

Johnny Void