Wandsworth Council Backs Down Over Rioter Eviction

By Cllr Tony Belton

Wandsworth Council decided not to evict the mother and 8 year old sister of the rioter convicted last week (see my blog entry of 12 January). This marks a victory for sanity against the knee-jerk threats of eviction made by both David Cameron and the Council in August.

It is great news for the tenant and an enormous weight off her shoulders, following what Judge Darling had called the biggest tragedy of the many sentences he had imposed as a consequence of the riots. The Council was forced to recognise just how much the family was a pillar of the local community and to backdown from the gung-ho rhetoric used by the Tory party in last September’s Council Meeting.

From my point of view, opposing the evictions policy as self-defeating and deeply malicious, this family could not have been a better test case. As the judge said last week, the family are “Christian with both a capital and a small c” and an integral part of the community. There will be tougher cases coming forward, no doubt, where the convicted rioters will be more culpable than Daniel and the innocent other members of the family less vulnerable than a single mother and 8 year old. But that will not stop those other members of the family being as innocent as Maite.

I will try and defend them as much as I have done Maite.

PS This WBC decision followed an interview between tenant and local housing manager, where essentially the tenant was being interviewed for her general status as a tenant and very unsurprisingly the local housing manager could see nothing wrong with the tenant’s record as a tenant or any reason why the Council should evict her. The idea that the Council backdown was as a result of pressure from various outside fringe groups is simply farcical. Whether it was partly as a result of the pressure Labour councillors put on the Tories in Wandsworth, only senior officers and senior councillors can really say.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2089057/So-strong-action-Council-abandons-attempt-evict-family-involved-summer-riots.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

Tony Belton on evictions:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQukL9XxxYk&context=C3522e34ADOEgsToPDskJMaifsA6ERZIj5WDSrJrUd

Cllr. Leonie Cooper on evictions:

http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/01/20/how-a-local-council-went-after-the-family-of-a-convicted-rioter/

Justice for a rioter and his family?

By Cllr. Tony Belton 

I went to the Crown Court on 10 January to hear Daniel’s sentence – you will remember I was interested in his case following his involvement in the riots on August 8th in Clapham Junction. The headline is that he received 11 months, which Judge Darling said would mean that he would serve half that time in custody and the other half “free” on licence. The Judge also said that the 83 days he had been on conditional bail would be counted against the sentence leaving, according to my calculation, Daniel serving about a further 87 days in custody.

Judge Darling said in sentencing that this was the “most tragic” case he had come across in the whole riot aftermath. He accepted Daniel’s story about how he happened to be in Clapham Junction and that he arrived on the scene after Curry’s had been broken into. He acknowledged that Daniel was of good character (that is had no previous of any kind) indeed the Judge went on to say that Daniel was an exceptional young man with some level of educational achievement. Daniel was a Christian with both a capital and a lower case c, he said, working for the good of the community – the Judge said “an aid worker”, a helper, a doer with many good character references.

But in the aftermath of the riots despite all mitigation and against the PSR (Pre-Sentence Reports done by the Probation Service) recommendation, he, the Judge, had to take into account society’s concerns and fears about the events of August and that he had no choice but to impose some level of custodial sentence. (I should add that the Judge retired for 46 minutes to consider the sentence – he clearly did not do it lightly)

I have two comments: first that Wandsworth Council shows zero respect for the “family” if it pursues, as it intends to do, its policy of eviction with all the consequences that this will bring to bear on the mother and sister. I know the mother quite well and it is clear, and totally unsurprising, that she is under some considerable stress.

Secondly, that the establishment has got itself into a bit of a mess about sentencing in this situation. Whilst Daniel aged 18, with no previous record at all, got 11 months, a man aged 30, sentenced at the same time as Daniel with 11 previous convictions for 22 offences having served two separate terms of 6 and 7 years, got a custodial sentence of 20 months!

Read the update here:

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/9464713.Council_restarts_process_to_evict_family_of_teen_looter/?ref=mr

WANDSWORTH LABOUR SUPPORTS CALL FOR CLAMP DOWN ON GANG DISORDER IN WANDSWORTH

 The Wandsworth Labour Group welcomes the report of the Independent Commissioner, Mr Neil Kinghan, into the disorder in the Borough in August, and fully supports all its recommendations.

Wandsworth Labour Leader, Councillor Rex Osborn said: “While I praise the courage of our local Police and their actions on August 8th, I welcome Mr Kinghan’s report because it asks tough questions of the Police – in particular, why Wandsworth was left so poorly protected that night. The report also highlights the threat posed by a gang culture on our estates and across our Borough. Our Residents and businesses need and deserve answers and actions on both counts. We must never forget that we can only offer a helping hand to those in need if we use a firm hand to maintain order.”

 “Labour councillors will work with Conservative colleagues to implement all the recommendations in the report, such as engagement with a relaunch of Clapham Junction and a focus on the Borough’s Safer Neighbourhood Team panels to close down these gangs. Mr Kinghan’s report underlines the fact that there are children in this Borough who grow up in some of the poorest families in Britain making them easy prey to the way of the gangs and it calls for more Council support for residents associations, families and for sports and youth facilities. Better Police intelligence gathering, better Police training, better Police planning and more action against the gangs are all needed. Mr Kinghan’s report reflects this, which is why it has the full support of the Wandsworth Labour group.”

Cllr Leonie Cooper, GLA candidate for Merton & Wandsworth and Opposition Speaker for Community Safety said: “The Labour Group also feels strongly that those found guilty of damaging our local community and environment should give something back, not simply be fined or imprisoned, but as part of a PayBack deal to work to repair and restore areas of our community they have damaged. Transport for London’s Fare Dodgers scheme, for example, ensures those found guilty pay back by painting railings or working in parks. I look forward to working with our Conservative colleagues to create a similar scheme in Wandsworth.”

Read the report in full:

http://ww3.wandsworth.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=15102

and a summary here:

http://ww3.wandsworth.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=15101

Special Council Meeting on 21st September – Labour Forces Police Cuts Debate

Motion to be moved by Councillor Osborn and seconded by Councillor Mrs. L. Cooper

Police Numbers

 “This Council notes:-

 (a) the successful implementation of Safer Neighbourhood Teams across Wandsworth;

(b) that Police numbers have been the subject of much political debate, with both the majority party and the minority party supporting full strength Safer Neighbourhood Teams, and adequate Metropolitan Police being allocated to the Borough;

 (c) that recent proposals to cut the size of Safer Neighbourhood Teams, initially by reducing the number of Sergeants are not helpful in fighting crime and maintaining good community policing and law and order;

 (d) that further cuts totalling 1,800 Metropolitan Police officers will be implemented during 2012, which will lead to increases in crime and decreases in detection; and

 (e) that on the night of 8th August 2011 there were insufficient officers stationed in the Borough to maintain order, leading to uncontrolled crime and disorder for several hours in the Clapham Junction area, and further notes that any further reduction in police numbers will give comfort to criminals, and reduce local ability to cope with any further disturbances.

 This Council therefore:-

(i) calls on the Mayor of London to reverse all cuts to Safer Neighbourhood Team Sergeants;

 (ii) calls on the Mayor of London to re-think his proposals for cuts to the Metropolitan Police; and

(iii) calls for more local Police to receive training in dealing with riots and street disorder, to ensure the events of the 8th August are not repeated, and that law-abiding local citizens and businesses can remain safe.”

In addition we will be discussing the Council’s proposals to evict innocent families from Council houses, along with anyone who is convicted  of taking part in the recent civil unrest. Read the full papers here:

http://ww3.wandsworth.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=3822&T=10

Wandsworth Public Disorder Inquiry – Meeting Dates

Wandsworth Council  is holding three public meetings to discuss the riots and their consequences. The first meeting is tonight.

September 12 – Battersea Arts Centre, 6.30pm – 8.30pm.

September 13 – Samaj Hall, 26b Tooting High Street, 6.30pm – 8.30pm.

September 19 – Wandsworth Civic Suite. 7pm – 9pm.

Labour Links With Battersea Clean Up Campaigns

Battersea Labour Party has linked up with the organisers of the Riot Clean Up at Clapham Junction in an effort to turn the amazing good will of the ‘broom army’ into lasting good works for the local community.

After Battersea Labour party held an open public meeting about the riots at York Gardens Library local Labour Leader Cllr. Osborn said “There were some frightening stories, but what shone through was the determination that we must all pull together. We are now working with local people to set up a Residents’ Association on the Winstanley Estate and supporting their work to set up professional internship scheme for local teenagers.’

The first project is to clean out a community garden on Doddington Estate that had been overgrown and out of use to residents for many years. More than 40 volunteers turned up on the Saturday after the riots (August 13) to help give children a new place to play and adults the satisfaction of growing their own organic food.

Latest news on community campaigns @riotremedy: http://twitter.com/#!/riotremedy

Labour Welcomes Battersea Community Action After Riots

Rex Osborn, Leader of Wandsworth Labour Group, has praised the Council and Battersea Labour Party for bringing together the community after the recent riots in Clapham Junction. He said ‘It’s great to see people coming forward with ideas to help the traders whose shops have been looted. I have spoken to the police – they are asking for anyone who may have pictures of people involved in the looting or have seen stolen goods to contact them.’

Local people who attended the Battersea Buzz meeting suggested fundraising events for victims of the rioting such as a fun run and a music or variety show. There were also ideas about offering apprenticeships in local shops and people giving up time to help youngsters with reading and writing. But some of the proposals such as an increase in police foot patrols in the area, more youth workers and the re-opening of youth clubs are unlikely to be on the Tories’ list of priorities.

In a separate event Battersea Labour party held an open public meeting at York Gardens Library on August 20. The Party wanted to provide an opportunity for every part of the local community, largely but not only from the council estates, to voice their concerns, hopes and fears. Fifty local residents turned up on the day. During an hour in open discussion and about 30 minutes in small working groups they covered subjects ranging from policing to family life, poverty, their community and more.

 Battersea Labour party has produced booklet with full notes on the meeting and advice on how to get further involved in the community. If you want to find out more, please contact battersealabourparty@gmail.com

Councillor Calls For Justice In Riot Eviction Case

In response to Wandsworth Council’s eviction order of an alleged looter, his mother and eight year old sister local Battersea Councillor Tony Belton said: “I was appalled by the rioting in Clapham Junction, where I have lived for more than 30 years. Those found guilty should be jailed and will carry the shame with them for the rest of their lives.
 
“Yet the council leader has chosen to ignore the basic principles of justice in a rush for newspaper headlines. If Daniel Sartain-Clarke is guilty he should face the full force of the law. What is completely unfair is Cllr Govindia judging this young man guilty before he has faced any trial – and then vindictively threatening to make his mother and a blameless eight-year-old child homeless as extra punishment.
 
“Maite de la Calva, Daniel’s mother, works hard to support members of her community in the Shaftesbury Christian Centre. Throwing Maite and her eight-year-old daughter out of their home will weaken this neighbourhood, not make it stronger. This morning, before visiting Maite, I joined dozens of volunteers from across London in clearing out the community garden on the Doddington Estate. In the horrible aftermath of the riots it is important that we all work to repair the fabric of society and remain true to the basic safeguards of our legal system.”

Legal opinion is here:

http://nearlylegal.co.uk/blog/2011/08/evicting-rioters-a-brief-note/

More on the story here:

http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/9197883.Mum_protests_son_s_innocence_after_eviction_notice/

Boris Johnson heckled in riot-hit Clapham Junction – video

The mayor of London mayor ignores the hecklers as he speaks to an angry public clearing up after Monday night’s riots.

Boris Johnson — who was forced to return from holiday early by the riots — was visiting Clapham Junction, scene of some of the worst unrest on Monday. But he came under severe criticism from local residents, complaining that they hadn’t had enough protection from the police.

 

 

Labour Councillors and MP Condemn Tooting Shop Attacks

Reposted from Wandsworth Guardian http://www.wandsworthguardian.co.uk/news/9184042.Tooting_stores_targeted_in_copycat_riots/ 

Two shops in Tooting had their front windows smashed-in at the weekend as rioting spread across the capital.

Vandals shattered the front windows of Ladbrokes, in Franciscan Road, Tooting, and nearby CEX, in Mitcham Road.

Wandsworth police today remained tight-lipped about the incidents, which are believed to have taken place last night in the wake of Saturday night’s riot and looting in Tottenham.

After repeated requests for information, a spokeswoman eventually said all queries would be handled by the central London Metropolitan Police Service team, who has still not responded to request for information about incidents and what is being done to protect local businesses and residents.

A shopworker in Londis, close to the Ladbroke shop, said he thought the damage was done last night, as the windows were broken when he arrived at work at 6.30am.

Rashad Sultan of Sultan and Co Accountants said: “By the time we opened, it was all boarded up, so we did not know what happened.

“They probably just walked past and said let’s break-in as it had no shutters.

“We have got shutters so nothing happened to us. At the moment it is ok but we do not know what will happen tonight.”

A spokesman for Ladbrokes said three men forced their way into the Franciscan Road branch at 4.09am this morning, were inside for “about a minute” but did not take anything.

Tooting’s MP Sadiq Khan said: “These incidents are extremely worrying. “I am in regular contact with the local police who have reassured me they are doing all that they can to keep local residents and businesses safe.

“If anybody has any information about the incidents they should get in touch with the police.”

Ward councillor James Daley said the situation was extremely concerning, adding he and his council colleagues would be working with police where possible to ensure public safety is maintained.

Labour group leader Councillor Rex Osborn branded any looting “unacceptable” and praised police in the borough for “containing the problem”.