Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Reminder: Kids Karate from Tuesday 27 July 15:00 - 16:00 @ Lollard Street Adventure Playground

Monday, 28 June 2010

London Music Masters: the sound of lives being changed


London Music Masters: the sound of lives being changed

A new scheme set up by Victoria Sharp to address the lack of cultural diversity among performers and audiences of classical music is making music part of the core curriculum in primary schools.

Joining the fun: Boris Johnson at Jessop Primary School
Joining the fun: Boris Johnson at Jessop Primary School
For the drought ahead, we will desperately need more people like Victoria Sharp. An American art historian married to a former Goldman Sachs banker and living in London, she isn’t just some Lady Bountiful doling out money to artistic causes that take her fancy, but a creative and committed philanthropist on the model approved by the new government. Talking to her is humbling and inspiring.
Mrs Sharp describes herself with unnecessary modesty as “a bit of a classical music nerd”, who serves on the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s trust and the Royal College of Music’s council. Her three children all play stringed instruments – she had a proud-mum moment recently when two of them played Bach’s Double Concerto at a relative’s wedding – and, when she reflected on what pleasure their skills were giving them, she felt moved to help other children on to the same path.
Through her RCM and LPO contacts, and with the success of Venezuela’s El Sistema scheme to guide her, she has set up London Music Masters, which is focused on young people learning to play strings and designed to address both the absence of a major violin competition in London and the lack of cultural diversity among performers and audiences of classical music.
The LMM Awards scheme doesn’t just give cheques to prize winners. Awards of three years’ duration are made to three violinists in the 18-28 age group. As well as financial support and the chance of some prestigious engagements in major venues, the winners are also assigned mentors who can give both artistic and career guidance.
But there’s a crucial element of payback, too. These violinists are also required to contribute to music in their communities (one of them is based in Hanover, another in South Bronx), and specifically to help with LMM’s other scheme, the Bridge Project, which has adopted two highly challenged and ethnically mixed south London primary schools, Jessop in Brixton and Ashmole in Kennington.
Here music has become part of the weekly core curriculum from reception year, embracing more than 250 children. As well as a grounding in musicianship, each participant is given his or her own violin. They are then taught in classes through a mixture of Kodály, Suzuki and traditional methods, delivered by advanced students from the RCM, who earn some useful pocket money towards the expenses of their own training.
The schools are also visited periodically by the award-winners, and there are trips to hear classical music at another of LMM’s partners, the nearby South Bank Centre.
The project, which has been running only since 2008, runs on a seven-year cycle: after three years, a second stage will select children who show any talent, give them more individual opportunities and offer the chance to change to the viola or cello. Quite how it will end, who knows?
Victoria Sharp has thought about it all meticulously, but she admits that she’s still fine-tuning the model. “It’s open to modification and the lessons of experience. But, whatever happens, I am absolutely determined to see it through.”
One continuing problem is securing the active support of parents, many of them from African or West Indian cultures where European classical music rarely means anything: the Somalis have proved a particular struggle. A big boost came when Boris Johnson paid a visit earlier this month to a Bridge Project lesson at Jessop and had the children laughing hysterically at his characteristically inept attempt to join in.
“Incentive is important. We hand out stickers and badges galore,” says Mrs Sharp. “But the goal isn’t to produce a clutch of super soloists. If one child went on to study at the RCM’s junior department, that would be the icing on the cake. The point is to feed music into the holistic development of the child and nurture their discipline, concentration and confidence.”

This is the last chance for Battersea Power Station

This is the last chance for Battersea Power Station

It has stood empty and forlorn by the Thames since 1983. Battersea Power Station has seen the gleaming towers of Canary Wharf rise to the east, the Gherkin come to dominate the City skyline and landmarks such as the London Eye and Millennium Bridge give London its modern identity.

Battersea Power Station
Meanwhile, poor old Battersea has been passed from one owner to the next, redevelopment tried and failed, its roof removed and walls demolished. But the site's latest owners, Real Estate Opportunities, reckon it is closing in on the start of an 8m square feet development of residential, retail and office space which will "change the geography" of the capital. There are even plans to float the development on the stockmarket and sell a key stake to an investor, such as a sovereign wealth fund. So what's different this time?
Unlike previous attempts to redevelop the Art Deco structure, this latest and much larger scheme is part of a wider 22m square feet regeneration project of the entire Nine Elms area of London which includes 16,000 new homes, not to mention the new US Embassy.
It's hoped a new branch of the Northern Line from Kennington will boost poor transport links. But this represents one of the biggest challenges to the scheme's success too. Public money is in short supply and while private sector funding is a possibility, corporate involvement with the London Underground has been fraught. The proposals for the power station appear to have popular support from residents and businesses, as well as City Hall. But the most compelling explanation why it will be different this time is also the starkest - this is Battersea Power Station's last chance. Failure will doom the site and for ever brand it unworkable. If it continues to stand it will be a monument to the sort of urban blight a modern, forward looking city cannot afford.

In a taxi with… Rolf Harris


In a taxi with… Rolf Harris

By Maureen Paton
Last updated at 8:01 PM on 26th June 2010

The much-loved octogenarian Aussie artist talks beards, Beatles and his new exhibition
Rolf Harris

The great thing about Rolf Harris is that you don’t have to explain who he is to the taxi driver. Rolf has been on our TV screens for nearly 60 years and our cabbie, Mike from Kingston-on-Thames, has grown up with him just like everyone else.
A former schoolboy swimming champ, Rolf has triumphantly surfed the waves of every new career challenge. He’s been a cartoonist, actor, chart-topping singer-songwriter, family entertainer, didgeridoo player, animal whisperer, pop festival favourite and artist. And there’s no mistaking his distinctive, self-styled ‘weirdie beardie’ look: Rolf is flashmobbed by passers-by as he poses for our photographer.
‘I did once shave my beard off but my wife Alwen was horrified and said I looked like a big American car without the chromework,’ says the Australian-born Rolf, who met his Welsh wife at the City & Guilds Art School in South London’s Kennington back in 1954. ‘She thought I was mad, I thought she was stuck-up, but we met again when we were both accepted for the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition two years later – and we married in 1958,’ says Rolf. They live on the Berkshire show-business belt in the same street as Michael Parkinson, and have a daughter, Bindi, 46, and a grandson, Marlon, 14.
Now a sprightly 80, Rolf is ageless enough to have never gone out of fashion. Even what he calls his ‘nerdy’ spectacles are bang on trend. ‘Physical age doesn’t mean anything, it’s what’s in your head that counts – and my mental age is about 15,’ he says. No wonder he’s performing at Glastonbury this year for the sixth time and is also lined up for the Isle of Wight’s Bestival – with Dizzee Rascal and the Chemical Brothers also clamouring to work with him in the future.
‘Physical age doesn’t mean anything, it’s what’s in your head that counts – and my mental age is about 15’
‘Michael Eavis called me the best entertainer ever to appear at Glasto. They had originally put me on as the Sunday morning wake-up man for a joke, but the crowd sang every word of every song and held up notices saying “Tie me Down, Rolf” and “I Want to Didgeridoo You”.’ So how does it feel to be hip? ‘It feels good,’ says this veteran popster, whose Aussie songs were re-recorded by the Beatles’ producer George Martin (‘because he was the one that EMI sent all the weirdies to’). For a BBC radio performance in 1963, the Beatles even sang backing vocals to Rolf’s ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport’.
‘I equate retiring with lying down and dying. I’ve been so lucky because I’ve been able to do what I love as a career,’ continues Rolf, currently celebrating 66 years in art after making his debut as a self-portrait painter at 14. He came to London in 1952 to try to break into British TV, and landed a BBC job drawing cartoons and fronting a children’s show called Jigsaw because its usual presenter refused to work with puppets.
Rolf will work with anyone if it’s the right project, as the nine million viewers of his ten-year hit BBC1 show Animal Hospital know. ‘The BBC bosses had wanted a 15-year-old for the job – but the producer said she had watched me all her life, and if I was as good with animals as I was with people I would be perfect.’
This summer sees a new London exhibition of Rolf’s paintings, but the crowning glory of his art career was being invited to paint Her Maj for a special edition of his BBC1 series Rolf On Art, the highest-rated arts programme in British TV history. ‘I told her that my grandfather had painted her grandfather, King George V, inspecting the troops at Flanders in the First World War,’ says Rolf.
Any regrets in this charmed life? ‘I would have loved to do animation like Wallace and Gromit, but each programme takes two to three years to create – and I wasn’t that dedicated.’
Rolf Harris’s A Life in Art exhibition opens this Friday at the new Clarendon Fine Art gallery, Dover Street, London W1
Find this story at www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1288997/Rolf-Harris-taxi.html

Award winning theatre on your doorstep

Support your Local Theatre by attending the World Premier of John Osborne’s ‘lost’ play Personal Enemy.

“Theatre of the first order” - The Guardian
“The White Bear should be saluted for staging such work”Time Out.

The White Bear Theatre Club is offering ‘2-for-1’ for this brilliant production.  That’s two tickets for only £14 or £10 for concessions!  The play runs until the 11th of July.  Tuesday to Saturday 7.30, Sundays 5.30.

Book now for this Cold War thriller penned by the author of ‘Look Back in Anger’ which changed the face of British Theatre when it was produced at the Royal Court in 1956.

The White Bear now has it’s own Exclusive Lounge Area where patrons can sit and enjoy a drink and a chat before the show.  The theatre itself is fully air conditioned.

To book call 020 7793 9193 and quote ‘Kennington Association Offer’.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Honours list

Honours list
Friday, 18 June 2010

Dame Barbara Monroe
Dame Barbara Monroe
SOUTH Londoners have been recognised by the Queen in her Birthday Honours list for everything from services to football to end-of-life care.
Professor Barbara Monroe, 59, who runs St Christopher’s Hospice in Lawrie Park Road, Sydenham, will now be addressed as Dame after being appointed a Dame Commander of the British Empire.
She became chief executive at the hospice in 2000 and has been a social worker for more than 30 years, working as chairwoman of the national Child Bereavement Network and lecturing at King’s College London.
Dame Barbara, who was recognised for services to palliative care, said:
“I am thrilled and proud to receive this award.
“It recognises the importance of good care at the end of life for everyone and the significance of the work that hospices nationally and internationally do to achieve this.”
Southwark-based funeral director Barry Albin Dyer, 59, receives an OBE.
His firm, F A Albin & Sons, has dealt with the death of all the 473 servicemen and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr Albin Dyer OBE said:
“I am very privileged to have been able to help these people in a small way.”
He said it was overwhelming to receive an OBE and added it was for all 52 staff within the firm.
Peckham-based Hope Powell, who manages England Ladies football team, receives a CBE.
Ms Powell, 43, who was born in Lewisham, won 66 caps for England and played for Millwall Lionesses for nine years.
Continuing the sporting theme is Maxine Patricia Edwards, from Catford, who is given an MBE for services to women’s rugby.
Other honours for South Londoners include:
* Peter James Housden, from Blackheath, the permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, who is knighted.
* CBEs to musician and record producer John Millar, from Balham, for services to the music industry, and Graham Pimlott, from Herne Hill, for services to business.
* Sian Jarvis, from Kennington, and Susan Owen, from Sydenham, both created Companions of the British Empire.
* OBEs to Clara Arokiasamy, from Forest Hill, John Cleary, from Dulwich, Roger Legate, from Streatham, Jehangir Malik, from Bermondsey and Keith Palmer, from Blackheath.
* MBEs to Alison Blackshaw, from Forest Hill, Alan Edwards and Doreen Walcott, from Catford, Alyson Ellis, Gary Payne and Patricia Hickson, from Rotherhithe, Fay Fullerton, from Dulwich, Judith Ish-Horowicz and James O’Neil, from Streatham, Emma Stewart, from Norwood, and Philip Walters, from Herne Hill.
Email: michael.stringer@slp.co.uk

Friday, 25 June 2010

Come and see our plans for Oval Farmers' Market!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Diary date: Kids Karate Tuesdays 3pm - 27th July to 31st August @ Lollard St Adventure Playground SE11 6PX

Free Piano to Good Home

We will be moving house on 3 July and have a piano that we are unable to take with us.
It would be great if someone in the area could give it a home.
The piano itself is black and can back onto a wall.
It's in good working condition, save a few chips in the paint here and there.
All it needs is a good tune and it should be ready to go.
If anyone is interested, they can reach me by email at akeselica@gmail.com
Many thanks
Alex Keselica
10 Ravensdon Street
piano photo

Radio 4: Wednesday 23rd June 11am - 11.30am : Edward the Black Prince - Peter and Dan Snow follow in the footsteps of the 14th-century chivalric hero of the 100 Years' War, the most famous prince never to become king

Dear Neighbours

You may be interested in this programme on Radio 4 tomorrow (Wednesday),
about another neighbour of old, who put Kennington on the map.

Best wishes
Cathy Preece
Administrative Assistant

Edward the Black Prince

Wednesday 23 June
11:00am - 11:30am
BBC Radio 4
Edward of Woodstock, Prince of Wales, was known as the Black Prince. In the first of two programmes, Peter and Dan Snow follow in his footsteps to trace the start of the 100 Years' War between England and France, and to find out more about this great figure in 14th-century chivalry. Starting at his tomb in Canterbury they follow his footsteps to Normandy, where he was knighted at 16 and took part in the siege of Caen and the Battle of Crecy. With the help of medieval historians Mark Ormrod and Craig Taylor, and the words of the chroniclers, Peter and Dan discover fascinating details about life in the middle ages at times of war, and about the early life of this great military commander.

Edward the Black Prince

Peter and Dan Snow follow in the footsteps of the 14th-century chivalric hero of the 100 Years' War, the most famous prince never to become king

Thursday, 17 June 2010

How I risked my life to nail the drug dealer next door while police failed to answer my pleas: Father's amazing tale of courage

How I risked my life to nail the drug dealer next door while police failed to answer my pleas: Father's amazing tale of courage

By Kathryn Knight
Last updated at 4:25 PM on 12th June 2010
Charlie Skinner has always been the sort of man to step in when people are behaving badly. The kind who will remonstrate with litterbugs, or who intervenes when a hapless tourist is being taken advantage of by a slick London con artist.
He’s done both in recent months, each time earning himself a foul-mouthed tirade for his trouble, and a certain amount of eye-rolling from his wife, Sian.
Married to him for 15 years, she’s had time to get used to her husband’s ‘get stuck in’ attitude, even though she has, on occasions, worried that it will land him in hot water.
'I acted without thinking': Charlie Skinner with wife Sian and 
children Florence, Maisie and Teddy
'I acted without thinking': Charlie Skinner with wife Sian and children Florence, Maisie and Teddy
And in March this year, that’s exactly what happened. On this occasion, Mr Skinner decided to try to tackle a problem that was rather closer to home, in fact, right on the doorstep of his beautiful South London townhouse.
The family’s neighbour was a 26-year-old illegal immigrant from China, called Xiao-Po He. He had for weeks been openly selling Class A drugs to a stream of customers coming in and out of his front door.
A call to the police from a worried Mr Skinner resulted only in the instruction to ‘keep a log’ and, when it became clear that nothing would be done anytime soon, 47-year-old Mr Skinner chose to take the law into his own hands.
‘I have three children, who are 13, 11 and eight — if the police weren’t going to do anything to protect them from this, I knew I had no choice,’ he explains. So, posing as a customer to gain access to the next- door house, he confronted his neighbour, fighting off two of his henchmen before chasing him down the street and making a citizen’s arrest.
Such was the volume of the deadly drug crystal meth in Po He’s possession that this week he was jailed for six years after a hearing in which Mr Skinner’s behaviour won praise from the trial judge.
His story is, on one level, a heroic tale. But it is also a depressing one. Many readers will wonder why it took a mild-mannered father of three to put such a man behind bars — especially when the local police station is only a stone’s throw away.
Moreover, Mr Skinner was horrified to discover after the trial that Po He was already on bail for previous drugs offences. Despite this, he was still able to set up shop next door and start dealing drugs all over again.
‘I didn’t really think about what I was doing, I just got on with it. But it seems ironic that with a police station just a few minutes’ walk away, it took me — his neighbour — to actually intervene. You have to ask yourself what their priorities are.’ 
His is a lament that will strike a chord with thousands of despairing parents who have fought tooth and nail to keep their children away from the scourge of drugs — one which is no respecter of class or wealth.
‘I understand the police have a difficult job and they are bound by certain rules,’ he says. ‘But when you have kids and you live with the reality of a drug dealer next door it’s a different kettle of fish.
‘I didn’t really think about what I was doing, I just got on with it. But it seems ironic that with a police station just a few minutes’ walk away, it took me — his neighbour — to actually intervene. You have to ask yourself what their priorities are.’
How many people will agree with the sentiment that the police seem to have plenty of resources at their disposal when it comes to traffic offences and speeding fines, yet are rather less forthcoming when it comes to dealing with neighbourhood crime.
What makes Mr Skinner’s trenchant views so interesting is that he is no dyed in the wool Right-winger, or high-minded Nimby.
An articulate, open-minded and prosperous property developer, Charlie Skinner and his wife, a senior legal adviser at a London court, returned to the capital four years ago from Paris, and deliberately chose to settle in Kennington, an area south of the river known as something of a cultural melting pot.
Their smart £700,000 townhouse lies on a busy main road and, like many other areas of the capital, is flanked by both smart period residences and more run-down flats and council estates.
‘We actually both liked the fact that it was really diverse, but we’d also done our research and knew it was pretty safe because it has two police stations and a few MPs living there,’ he says.
While the neighbouring property on one side was a house, the other was, like many in the area, divided into flats, and initially, Mr Skinner says, the family were on friendly nodding terms with the inhabitant of the ground floor.
But when he left the property at the end of last year to return to the United States, they were immediately wary of his successor.
Home: The family's Kensington terrace was overrun by the drug 
dealer's customers, arriving to score their hit at all hours of the day 
and night
Home: The family's Kensington terrace was overrun by the drug dealer's customers, arriving to score their hit at all hours of the day and night
‘I didn’t take much notice of him at first because he seemed to keep himself to himself, but I did notice that he kept funny hours. He also seemed to travel everywhere by cab, which was at odds with his attire, which was pretty grungy.’
As we now know, Po He never actually inhabited the property, but instead rented it for use as his ‘ business premises’. Mr Skinner wasn’t to know this, of course, although by February he couldn’t help but notice the constant stream of visitors who, oddly, never rang the doorbell but always made a call on their mobile every time they reached the front door.
‘As I work from home quite a lot, I saw all the comings and going, and there were an awful lot of them. There were dozens of people calling every day, most of them young and pretty unsavoury looking. I soon had a good idea of what was going on.’
Weekends were even worse.
‘I am not exaggerating when I say there were literally hundreds of people coming and going at all hours. No sooner had one left than another was coming in or drawing up outside. Often they’d pass each other on the path.
‘It was unsettling, particularly with having three children who I was very mindful of protecting.’
After several weekends like this, by late February Mr Skinner had had enough. ‘The sheer volume of people was getting to me, then on this occasion three quite dodgy-looking blokes pulled up in a van before one went in next door then came back with a package which they sat examining.
‘Something inside me thought “this can’t go on”, so I asked my wife to call the police while I kept an eye on them,’ he recalls. Sian Skinner telephoned the local station, Walworth, and she spoke to a switchboard operator.
‘I was asked whether I had seen any open trading of drugs, and when I said I hadn’t, the woman told me that the best thing we could do was keep a log of the comings and goings,’ she says.
‘When I said there was no other explanation for what was happening, the woman said she was sure we were right but without evidence they couldn’t get a warrant, and without a warrant they couldn’t get in. So there was nothing more they could do at this point.’
In other words, instead of sending a local bobby to knock on the door, the police chose to play things by the book. As Sian’s husband points out, the notion of keeping a log seemed laughable.
‘There were so many people coming and going I could have filled an entire notebook within a couple of hours — and if the police had made the 15-minute walk or two-minute drive here they would have been able to see that for themselves.’
As it was, the couple could only watch helplessly as another fortnight passed in which Po He continued to ply his trade.
‘We managed to shield the kids from it — they don’t really play out at the front but, obviously, it’s a concern because of the kind of people who were coming to the area,’ recalls Mr Skinner.
‘The other guy then fled out the front door. It suddenly flitted through my mind that one of them might have had a weapon, and I realised that maybe I was in over my head, so I ran back home and shouted at Sian to call the police.’ 
By March 13, another Saturday on which a constant stream of customers had come to buy their illegal fix, he decided to try an experiment.
‘I stood outside the flat and pretended to be on my mobile phone. Each time someone came out, I made out I was lost and asked how to get to a street that was just around the corner. each time, they just looked blank, which meant they were definitely not local. For me it was another tick in the box showing that something dodgy was going on.’
In just 20 minutes, Mr Skinner had spoken to more than a dozen ‘visitors’ and, by now only too aware that calling the police would lead nowhere, it was at this point that he decided to take the law into his own hands.
‘I just felt furious that this was happening right on my doorstep. Looking back, I suppose I acted without thinking, but I just wanted to do something, and when I saw two guys coming out the door I took the opportunity to go in.’
Once inside the hallway, however, Mr Skinner realised that the two previous customers had returned and were now standing by the front door. And suddenly, what had been a cautious intervention erupted into terrifying violence.
‘They were white, thirty-something and rough-looking. One of them said “what do you want?” before coming right for me with his fists raised. I knew I had to put up a fight, so I landed a punch which sent him to the ground.
‘The other guy then fled out the front door. It suddenly flitted through my mind that one of them might have had a weapon, and I realised that maybe I was in over my head, so I ran back home and shouted at Sian to call the police.’
Glancing back out the window, however, he saw that Po He was also making a run for it.
‘I’d obviously freaked him out, so was making a getaway with a friend.
‘I had adrenaline coursing through my veins by then, so I took off after him and chased him down the street before managing to pin him down on the ground where I held him in a headlock while his friend fled. I didn’t think, I just acted on instinct.’
Of course, choosing to chase Po He was a dangerous course which could all too easily have resulted in tragedy had he been armed.
At this point, however, a touch of farce entered the proceedings: the area had been colonised by a film crew shooting a TV advert, and, to passers-by, Mr Skinner’s frantic attempts to restrain his captive appeared to be part of the drama of filming.
‘I was trying to shout for people to give me a hand, but they obviously thought it was play-acting. It was tough because the guy was obviously struggling and I wasn’t sure how long I could hold on to him.’
Citizen's arrest: Charlie held the drug dealer in a headlock while
 Sian called the police
Citizen's arrest: Charlie held the drug dealer in a headlock while Sian called the police
In fact, a local off-duty policeman spotted the contretemps and ran towards them, making an arrest and calling for back-up on his phone when he realised the gravity of the situation.
This time, the police arrived within minutes. In Po He’s pockets they found 3.6 grams of the highly addictive and dangerous drug crystal meth.
‘I said to the policemen that if they thought this was a lot, they needed to go to his flat because I had no doubt they’d find plenty more there.
‘At this point, the guy was shouting saying to me “have some respect”. I was incensed. How could a man trading in drugs even think of saying something like that?’
If Mr Skinner was relieved his neighbour had been apprehended, he was to be left angered by what he subsequently discovered: visited by a plain clothes officer the following day, he learned that Po He, who had another 4.48 grams of crystal meth in his flat when it was searched, was known to the police already.
‘The officer told me the guy was part of a Soho drug triad gang and had been arrested previously, but because he was pretty small beer they had kept him on the outside, as he put it. He was meant to be acting as some kind of informer, although he obviously hadn’t been telling them what he’d really been up to. It made me pretty angry.
‘I understand we don’t live in an ideal world and the police sometimes have to play difficult games, but they’re not the ones living with the reality of a drug dealer next door.’
Not just a drug dealer, but a drug dealer with form, too, as Mr Skinner discovered when he attended Inner London Crown Court this week. He was already on police bail after being caught in November last year with a stash of drugs worth £12,000, including crystal meth, cocaine, ketamine and ecstasy pills at another address in South London.
On this occasion, he was jailed for six years after admitting two counts of possession with intent to supply and two of possession of criminal property.
Judge Mark Bishop spoke witheringly of the ‘death and degradation’ in which he traded. His incarceration has come as a huge relief to Mr Skinner who, some would say, did the police’s job for them — not that the Metropolitan Police see it that way.
This week, a Met spokesman told the Mail that while he could not comment on this individual case they were bound by procedure.
‘We’re always grateful for intelligence people give us about criminal activity and we respond accordingly, while being mindful of balancing the fact we have limited resources spread very thinly.
‘If you report any suspicious behaviour relating to drug deals, it will be dealt with by detectives and more often than not it is in a covert way because of the nature of the work involved.
‘But intelligence is, of course, key to us and has led us to many arrests and many successful prosecutions.’
Even now, the words ring hollow to Mr Skinner.
‘I have sympathy for the difficulties the police face but, having lived in France for a few years and seen the zero tolerance policing they have over there, I can’t help feeling it’s a shame that they don’t have greater powers over here.’
How many who’ve seen their communities blighted by the drugs trade — all too often operating virtually unchecked from street corners to school gates — will find themselves in wholehearted agreement?

Tax burden is pushing minnows under

Markets & Analysis

Tax burden is pushing minnows under

Anthony Hilton
The Government made a big thing while in opposition about cutting corporation tax so that companies can keep more of the profits they make.
It remains a key part of its strategy to attract businesses to the UK.
But an investigation carried out by another newspaper three years ago found to general astonishment that one third of the companies in the FTSE 100 paid no UK tax at all in the year
2005-06. Another third of that number paid only a nominal amount.
Business may have boomed in the first half of the decade but in big companies the proportion of profit paid in tax fell sharply instead of going up as one would expect.
It turns out that one side-effect of the incentivisation of executives to increase shareholder returns was that UK-based multinationals became much more aggressive in their tax planning.
Shareholders got more money — and executives qualified for their bonuses — partly (at least) at the expense of the tax authorities.
Nor is it just the giant companies. In a thought-provoking speech in Parliament this week, the chairman of the Lloyd's insurance market, Lord Levene, disclosed that of the 53 companies active in the insurance market, only nine were still domiciled in the UK.
Some of course were foreign to start with, but it is nevertheless startling how many of what were indigenous British firms have moved offshore to pay less tax. Even Brit, sponsor of as British a sporting icon as Kennington Oval, has moved abroad.
On top of that we have the aftermath of the banking crisis, which has wiped out the one part of big business which did pay big UK tax. RBS and the others were fond of saying every year how many schools and hospitals could be built with the money they contributed.
But not any more. The massive losses of recent years can be rolled forward to offset future profits and only when these have been used up will they start paying significant amounts of tax again. It could take years.
Indeed when Merrill Lynch announced its huge losses a couple of years ago it was estimated that it was unlikely to pay UK tax again much before 2025.
Similarly it is well known that when British companies are taken over — the likes of Asda, BAA, Cadbury or even Manchester United - the tax they pay to the Exchequer plunges because their new foreign owners organise things so that it appears they make all their profit in some useful offshore low-tax location.
They have to pay other taxes of course, such as National Insurance and business rates, but the overall total is still less than one would expect.
This might prompt some readers to suggest that corporation tax is no longer fit for purpose but it goes much deeper and is much more damaging than that.
A paper published today by the Institute of Directors* highlights the fact that some businesses in the UK do pay corporation tax, and a host of other taxes besides, which are so onerous they are a positive disincentive to growth.
It is fine when you become a multinational giant and can afford armies of accountants to advise on how to take advantage of the latest tax-avoidance schemes, but the normal UK-based small to medium-sized business does not have that option.
So they, rather than the giants, shoulder a disproportionately large share of the tax burden even though as small businesses they qualify for a slightly lower rate of corporation tax.
Indeed the IOD claims that this plus NI, business rates, renewable energy levies and fuel and stamp duties boost the effective rate of tax on the small businesses to well over 40%.
I can well believe it, having once known the owner of a small restaurant who worked out that 70% of his turnover — not profits — went in business rates, NI and VAT. He was full every night but he wasn't making any money. In effect the business rates made it impossible to run a profitable business from his premises. But his appeal for a reduction fell on deaf ears and he was forced to shut down — which meant that the tax office then got nothing as the building stood empty.
The thrust of the IOD's paper is that this tax rate is not only too high of itself but it makes it very much harder for owners to expand — partly because so much of their cash goes in tax, partly because at the bottom end the system works perversely and a small increase in size is likely to increase the tax burden even more.
This matters hugely because it is small firms which provide the bulk of employment in this country and it is small but growing firms which will play a big part in providing the growth on which our future prosperity depends.
It is absurd to have a tax system which actively discourages enterprise. But if the Government genuinely wants to tackle that problem, shaving a percent or two off corporation tax is not the answer. It has to look at the whole package, and particularly the pernicious system of business rates, if it is to succeed genuinely in easing the burden.
*IOD Policy Paper. Tax — The Weighty Burden by Richard Baron

The discerning drinker: Best wines from the Rhône

Life & Style


The discerning drinker: Best wines from the Rhône

Andrew Neather

I'm having some pretty serious withdrawal symptoms, having spent last week in the Rhône lazing and tasting in brilliant sunshine amid the beautiful hilly landscape around Vaison-la-Romaine.
There's just fantastic warmth and generosity to so many of the mostly Grenache-based reds — and not just the terrific 2007 vintage. I'm heading back south at the next opportunity.
Château d'Acquéria 2006, Lirac rouge (Berry Bros, 3 St James Street, SW1 or bbr.com, £8.30).
The de Bez brothers are better known for their serious and meaty Tavel rosé (Berry Bros has the excellent 2009 for £11.02) but while I enjoyed that in the sunshine, their red Lirac, from grapes inside the neighbouring appellation, is equally delicious. Lovely richness with solid structure from a blend that's roughly half grenache and the rest syrah/mourvèdre.
Domaine Le Clos des Cazaux Réserve 2007, Vacqueyras (Jeroboams, reduced from £11.95 to £9.95 until Aug 29)
From one of my favourite Vacqueyras producers, this is packed with warm, spicy berry fruit yet with fine balance and tannins (majority grenache, it incorporates a fair slug of syrah). The Wine Society has its very good Cuvée St Roch Vacqueyras 2004, a similar blend (thewinesociety.com, £10.95). Tasting there last week, I particularly enjoyed Cazeaux's La Tour Sarrazine Gigondas 2007: utterly superb but not easy to find by the bottle here.
Promenade des Papes 2007, Plan de Dieu (Tesco, £9.99)
Plan de Dieu is one of the most southerly and recently created of the named Côtes-du-Rhône villages, just a few kilometres west of Vacqueyras. This is big, sweet and rich, but with attractive mineral notes too.
Château Montfaucon Cuvée Baron Louis 2005, Côtes du Rhône (Flint Wines, mail order only, flintwines.com or 020 7582 2210, £11.95; you can mix cases; delivery £10/case or pick up free from its Kennington offices)
This is astonishingly good for a straight Côtes du Rhône: rich, warm fruit and real depth balanced by freshness. One of a notably strong stable of Rhône wines offered by this small London merchant.
Domaine Grand Nicolet Vieilles Vignes 2007, Rasteau (Oddbins, £15.49)
Rasteau is among the best of the named Côtes du Rhône villages. This heavyweight — 15.5 per cent alcohol — is a little pricey but it's undeniably impressive: sweet, spicy fruit and huge depth.

Fifth politician due in court over £20,000 expenses claims

Fifth politician due in court over £20,000 expenses claims
An MP accused of dishonestly claiming more than £20,000 in expenses will appear in court today.
Eric Illsley, Labour representative for Barnsley Central, is charged with false accounting in relation to three years of expenses claimed on his second home in London.
He is the fifth politician to face criminal charges after the expenses scandal last year.
Illsley is due to attend City of Westminster Magistrates' Court this afternoon for a first appearance.
It is alleged that Illsley dishonestly claimed expenses for council tax, maintenance, insurance and utilities at his second home in Renfrew Road, Kennington, south London, between May 2005 and April 2008.
He has since been suspended from the Labour Party.
Earlier this month, a judge ruled that three other former Labour MPs and a Tory peer would have to stand trial in a criminal court over accusations that they fiddled their expenses.
Mr Justice Saunders said the four men were not protected from prosecution by parliamentary privilege and as such could be tried in the criminal courts.
Former Labour MPs David Chaytor, Elliot Morley, and Jim Devine, and Tory peer Lord Hanningfield, also known as Paul White, are accused of theft by false accounting.

St. Peter's Summer Arts Festival

Alford House Youth Club: Nights for Boys and Girls aged 8 to 16 years

Alford House Youth Club : Free Female Only Fitness Sessions for ages 11-19 : Fridays 5pm to 7pm

Lambeth Parish Fête: Saturday 26th June, 2pm to 5pm

Myatt's Fields Park Summer Fair Saturday 19th June 2010

Myatt's Fields Park Fair

Fruit and vegetable growing in Lambeth will be put under the spotlight during Myatt’s Fields Park’s midsummer fair on 19th June.
Volunteers living around the park have planted a variety of fruit and vegetables in and around the park’s community greenhouse since February 2010.
The new growing project makes the park perfect for the launch of Incredible Edible Lambeth, a new scheme which aims to support food growing across Lambeth.  Led at present by Lambeth, it is hoped this will develop as a partnership with community groups and individual growers.
As well as children’s entertainment, music on the bandstand, dance, a small fairground and community stalls, a host of free food-related activities at the fair will include:
  • Cake baking and vegetable growing competitions
  • Talks about growing food in a small space and guerrilla gardening
  • Cooking demonstrations and cook and eat sessions
  • Pizzas from a wood burning pizza oven
  • Tours of the park’s community greenhouse and fruit orchard
  • Bee keeping demonstrations
  • Composting workshops
  • Recipe sharing
Music on the bandstand will include Errol Linton’s Blues Vibe and the Ceilidh Factory, who will lead visitors in a traditional Ceilidh dance.
Community and growing groups, schools and individuals can get involved by:
  • Entering competitions, which include cake baking, jam and pickle making, prettiest salad and prettiest wild-flower posy in a jam jar. 
  • Volunteering to help on the day
  • Booking a stall for their project or business
  • Coming along on the day and helping us to map the growing that’s happening in Lambeth
The fair will run from 1pm to 5pm on 19th June and is organised by Myatt’s Fields Park Project Group. The following day will see a Tea Dance by Ragroof featuring Ida Barr's Mash-up, Camberwell Arts Festival, 20th June, and run by Home Live Arts.
The park’s new café, the Little Cat Café, will be open for both the fair and the tea dance, offering cream teas and home made cakes. The café is run by volunteers as a social enterprise.
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