Author Archives: John Sweeney

Met police found to be institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic – Now what?

The Baroness Casey Review into the Met Police makes for very grim reading for all Londoners. The contents outline some horrific attitudes and behaviours towards minorities, women and LGBTQ+ people across the city it polices as well as within its own ranks. Baroness Casey has simply held a mirror up to this organisation and stated very clearly this has to change.

What makes reading the report even more depressing is that these same issues within the Met were identified back in 1999 in another independent review – the MacPherson report. This report only arose from years of campaigning by the Lawrence family seeking justice for their son Stephen. Stephen Lawrence was murdered in a racist attack in Eltham in 1993. The Macpherson report concluded the investigation into Stephen’s murder was “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership”

I grew up in Lewisham in a ‘tough neighbourhood’ not far from Eltham within miles of the racist attitudes that prevailed at the time. My local pub, the Golden Lion, was the scene of the unsolved Daniel Morgan murder in 1987. Daniel’s family still wait for a justice that may never come and can only take some comfort the  Independent Panel enquiry they campaigned for established the Met was “institutionally corrupt” and  Britain’s biggest police force engaged in “the denial of the failings in investigation, including a failure to acknowledge professional incompetence, individual’s venal behaviour, and managerial and organisational failures”

Posted in Local government, London and Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 3 Comments

Beyond potholes … addressing fly-tipping is an issue LibDems can campaign on in cities everywhere

Canvassing in the Hounslow by-election recently, I couldn’t help but notice old refrigerators, household waste, and builders’ rubble accumulated on the street corners and estates of Heston West. Residents were fed up and felt that they were being taken for granted. Statistically, Hounslow has the 2nd highest number of fly-tipping incidents in London. Even more depressing is that the Labour-run Council only bothered to issue 53 Fixed Penalty Notice fines for fly-tipping in 12 months. (Fly-tipping data for all UK Local Authorities is available here).

Fly-tipping is a real blight on the sense of pride everyone wants for the place they live. Council-run housing estates are especially popular locations for fly-tipping. Even worse, the daily exposure to stained mattresses, soiled nappies, and other waste constantly drags on the mental health and general well-being of the people living on them.

For Liberal Democrats getting serious about fixing urban fly-tipping is an opportunity to show city-dwellers what a community-minded approach can achieve. Our Heston West candidate has already adopted action on this blight as one of the major themes of his campaign. There is a lot Local Authorities can do about this problem, but only a few are doing enough. For challengers in Local Elections, this is an opportunity to demonstrate the difference a LibDem approach can make.

Two years ago in “leafy” Kingston there was a noticeable increase in fly-tipping during the pandemic. Statistically, Kingston is one of London’s least fly-tipped boroughs, but that is no consolation for people living with a problem in their area. Certain streets and locations of the borough received significant dumps of household waste/furniture and black bags. Housing estates and flats above shops especially had problems. Council Departments in Housing, Highways, and Parks were not working together, and issues were being handled poorly, frustrating residents and Councillors. And just Like Hounslow at that time very few Fixed Penalty Notices were being issued.

With the support of the LibDem Group, I initiated a fly-tipping task force. The task force brought together councillors, officers, and the vast amount of data gathered by the Council to identify ‘hot spots’. We then systematically set about fixing the worst areas through site visits and engaging with residents and local businesses. Each area had a slightly different problem and some issues were more difficult to resolve than others.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , , and | 11 Comments
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