Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Parking, Play and Profligacy

With its introduction of charges at the Wanstead Library car park Redbridge Council has, yet again, shown its disregard for the most vulnerable residents of our borough - 'Parking fees are stealth tax on OAPs' (Guardian, November 12).

However this penny pinching exercise is not the only recent attack on public services in Wanstead, to be instigated without consultation. The children's play area on The Green is now also under threat as this administration removes but does not replace rides which, due to regular use, are now in a state of disrepair.

Therefore our mean spirited council, in order to refill its coffers – which it emptied during its otherwise too occasional acts of profligacy – in two fell swoops, on both corners of the junction of Woodbine Place and Spratt Hall Road, has managed to make the lives of senior citizens, young mothers and children still more uncomfortable in these already difficult times. Shades of ‘Bah humbug!’ methinks.

Ashley Gunstock
The Green Party - Redbridge
Leading Spokesperson

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Did he putsch or was he jumped?

Letter to the Observer

Dear Sir

As one who is generally in favour of political platforms which include the 'democratically' elected BNP, in order that it may be discredited, I fully endorse what Andrew Rawnsley had to say in his article – ‘The more people see of the BNP, the worse for the party’ – Comment, last week. I am only sorry that the BBC missed a better opportunity than it took to even further expose Nick Griffin and his party's reprehensible policies.

Unfortunately David Dimbleby early on in the recent Question Time programme (unusually for him) lost the plot and, in his rage, initially allowed himself to become part of the mob baying for Griffin's blood. This, although he (a little too late) pulled himself together, meant that serious debate could not be entered into.

Griffin, when he did get the chance to respond, was showing himself to be the shallow fascist that we knew him to be. However on each occasion, just before he was left to wordlessly flounder, one or other politico on the panel saved him by intervening and spouting diatribe in an attempt to promote their own party.

No one was really challenged on the question of why there is a rise in support for the BNP, i.e. the failure of New Labour, the Tories or the Lib Dems to represent the 'working class' and address the issues which most trouble it. In view of this the representatives of the 'major' parties were permitted to resort to the use of the fascist deception of scapegoating, so that they could provide a smokescreen for their own shortcomings. In view of this Griffin was quite possibly no less honest than any other politician on the panel!

In any event I suspect that many members of the BNP (with or without hindsight) probably would have preferred their leader to have been refused the opportunity to put forward their policies, as they then may then have been able to gain some sympathy from attacking our ‘selective’ multi-cultural democracy.

Nevertheless sadly for him - and thankfully for all decent folk - he and the BNP were portrayed on Question Time - and in the aftermath throughout the media - as the least acceptable face in British politics.

Yours faithfully

Ashley Gunstock

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Dancing with the devil you know

Dear Sir

Nick Clegg may believe that he is being genuine in refusing David Cameron's offer to power share with the Conservatives (Lib Dems spurn olive branch from Cameron the ‘con man’, News, last week).

Nevertheless in the event of a General Election resulting in a hung Parliament or indeed one that simply gives the Tories a slim majority, I am sure that Mr Clegg will find it difficult to resist Mr Cameron's courtship. After all, what with the talents that the Lib Dems have for 'swinging all ways', in order to tout for votes (rather than having any semblance of an ideology of their own) they would not find it hard to add a little hue of blue to their rainbow of alliances.

This tactic is not a dalliance whereby the vulnerable and inexperienced are seduced by the worldly and the wise, but a marriage of convenience between hard bitten cynics in search of power. I doubt if - before New Labour’s landslide victory in 1997, ultimately making a Lab/Lib pact unnecessary and irrelevant - Paddy Ashdown (the then Lib Dem leader) would have turned down the same offer, touted by Tony Blair, which turned his head and flushed his cheek New Labour rosy red. Or was it the harlot’s rouge?

However despite all his holier than thou posturing Mr Clegg knows that, bottom line, his party and the Tories would not make such strange bedfellows. The liberal doth protest too much methinks.

Ashley Gunstock
The Green Party
Parliamentary Candidate for Leyton & Wanstead

Monday, 27 July 2009

London City Airport

The Green Party wishes to declare its support for the campaigners who oppose the decision by Newham Council to increase the amount of flights proposed for London City Airport (Guardian July 16).

In the first instance the fact that any single borough council is able to make a unilateral decision on such an important issue such as this, which will adversely affect the quality of life for many people in outlying boroughs, beggars belief.

Mr Jezierski and the Wanstead & Woodford group that he represents and Ms Griffin of Fight the Flights are absolutely correct in their beliefs that residents will suffer increased air and noise pollution due to the extra and unnecessary flight blight.

The argument put forward by the airport that 'the extra flights will boost the local community's economic and regeneration prospects' is a misnomer; in point of fact the reverse is truer. Even more commuters will make their way straight to the airport by car. This will lead to passengers buying their provisions at the airport rather than from local traders having caused more pollution and congestion, thereby affecting the area with further environmental degradation. Furthermore the extra flights will soon lead to the need for an inevitable expansion, ad infinitum et ad nauseam.

In other words it will be all planes, pains and no gains.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gunstock
Leading Spokesperson
The Green Party - Redbridge

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The FibDem Myth

Letter to The Observer

Dear Sir

I wish to set the record straight with regard to the urban myth (which has become accepted as fact, due to constant repetition) that the Liberal Democrats opposed the war in Iraq from the very outset, as stated in your front page article ‘Tony Blair pushed Gordon Brown to hold Iraq war inquiry in private’ – Observer, last week.

Even at the end of the day that saw over a million people march through the streets of London, to protest against the probability of Tony Blair taking us into the hostilities, Charles Kennedy (the then Lib Dem leader) declared during his speech in Trafalgar Square that although he personally was against the invasion of Iraq he could not say the same for his party. It was not until it was apparent that the war was a mistake that the Liberal Democrats took the liberally democratic stance to distance themselves from the atrocities.

The Green Party is the only political party that has consistently opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning (Respect were not in existence then) and has since insisted that there should be a full and open investigation, into why we embarked on this immoral and illegal enterprise in the first place. Nevertheless, judging by Mr Blair’s cowardly intervention, it appears that, yet again, the tax payer will be made to foot the bill for yet another costly and shameful charade.

Ashley Gunstock

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Cockney Robins

click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
It appears that what I initially thought to be a highly amusing and perhaps semi-tongue in cheek letter from Mr J C Fentiman, was not so - I'm not a snob, but we don't want 'cocknification' - Guardian 21 May. I therefore write with regard to his latest offering, published in your letters page – Pie-and-mash lovers must be driven from Wanstead – Guardian 4 June.

What Mr Fentiman appears not to understand, as he surveys his Wanstead manor from his narrow perspective, is that he is now living in an East London village which is continually developing its own unique character. Firstly, in terms of the architecture, should he simply look up and around, when he comes down from his ivory tower, he would see that the Robins Pie & Mash Shop signage, which he finds so offensive, actually perfectly matches (by accident or design) the original white and black painted properties of the area.

Furthermore Wanstead's population is made up of mostly quite affluent working and middle class folk of a wide age range. Both groups have members (including some of what Mr Fentiman referred to as rough types) who are used to cockney grub as well as having acquired (due to the influx of young upcoming professionals) more sophisticated tastes in the foods that we now eat. Yes Wanstead, despite being closer to the likes of Basildon and East Ham, is of late assuming the same type of cafe society atmosphere as Hampstead; although it is not as far up its own backside...yet.

In any event even I, as a vegetarian with a preference for more exotic flavours, can appreciate how good old fashioned pie & mash (just as fish & chips) would appeal to some palates. As to the chosen method of eating one's choice of cuisine: spoons?! Whatever next? The savages will soon be eating with sticks or simply use their hands, heaven help us! I daresay that what Mr Fentiman would find most 'quaint' is that the spoons used for pie & mash and jellied eels were also probably licked clean to be re-used as musical instruments, to accompany a right old sing-song, after a good supper. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating 'knees ups around the old joanna' instead of grace after meals, but I hardly think that anyone’s grandchildren are going to be ‘culinarily’ traumatised by witnessing a person’s unusual use of cutlery. Nevertheless, rather than have it hidden away in some back street (as the gentleman suggests) give me the cultural celebration of openly rejoiced, genuine cocknification over uptight, faux gentrification any day.

Finally, by the way, Robins required no change of usage for the unit that it is trading from. The firm is operating in true keeping with the oft preferred and referred to like for like planning guidelines and, as a purveyor of pie and mash, the liquor it serves does not require an alcohol licence such as the one so readily handed to Mr Fentiman's more acceptable gauche, brash and flash Tesco store.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gunstock
Leading Spokesperson
Green Party - Redbridge

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Fiddling while Rome burns

Letter to the Observer:

Dear Sir

I was quite taken aback by Andrew Rawnsley's article concerning MPs expenses, 'These scams are atrocious. Worse is the lack of remorse' (Comment, last week).

It was not so much the content of his piece that struck me but the fact that, given his experience as a political commentator, he should express such shocked indignation. The high level of vehemence that he displayed suggested that he, until now, had no idea of the magnitude of the fraud.

Unfortunately, given the lack of backbone and moral fibre of many of our MPs these days, it comes as no surprise to me that many of them would be on the fiddle while the country goes to blazes.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gunstock
Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
Leyton & Wanstead

Monday, 11 May 2009

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Hustings Cancelled

Ashley is very upset that this evening’s Hustings have been called off. This arose from the Labour candidate, Ross Hatfull, refusing to share a platform with the BNP and trying to persuade the other candidates to do likewise.

This is not the way to deal with the British National Party. The Green Party policy on this is that we only share a platform with the BNP where there is opportunity to challenge their views, which is precisely what a hustings is for. Ashley comments

"Unfortunately the other parties have fuelled the problems which the BNP seeks to exploit. Tax increases on the working and lower middle classes brought about by Labour, the decline of employment in Britain's manufacturing and energy sectors - as started by the Conservatives - and continued by Labour, have inevitably led to some people feeling disenfranchised with the political system. The BNP's sectarian and scapegoat finding policies would do nothing to address these problems however, and it is a shame that I was unable to speak to residents at the hustings to promote the Green Party's vision of a positive future for Wanstead and a positive future for Britain, via our national policies, such as the creation of a million new jobs in the energy sector."
Ashley also works closely with the anti-racist Redbridge and Epping Forest Together group.


Wanstead & Woodford Guardian:

Tonight's by-election hustings cancelled
This is Local London:

BNP by-election campaigner arrested over 'racist attack'
Barkingside 21:
The Death of Democracy

Thursday, 9 April 2009


There will be a Wanstead ward by election Hustings next Wednesday 15th April 2009 at The Cricket Clubhouse in Nutter Lane E11, (map) doors open 7pm for 7:30pm start. All 6 candidates have been invited. Organised by the Wanstead Residents Association.

Monday, 30 March 2009

Let the children play!

Letter to the Ilford Recorder.

Dear Mr Carter

I found the anti-Green attack on Wilson Chowdhry by Roy A Lewis, in his letter entitled ‘Society so hostile to our youngsters’, to be totally unwarranted and more than a little disingenuous. – Recorder, March 26.

The Green Party, perhaps more than any other, appreciates the important role that children play in our society and for that reason places great emphasis on their freedom of expression through play.

To that end (and many others) The Greens have long been campaigning for better and affordable public transport – to get more people out of their cars – and encourage and support Home Zones and 20mph speed limit roads for many residential areas. In fact this is a policy issue which has now been adopted by the other Parties for example in Islington where (due to a Green councillor holding the balance of power) 20mph zones have recently been agreed.

Nevertheless, until such a time when our streets are made safe once again, there is a time and a place for everything and many other people and factors within a community to consider and we must not forget how noisy children in confined areas can unknowingly make life difficult for, for instance, young mothers and older and disabled people.

However it was Mr Lewis’s blinkered vision in respect of these that afforded him the opening for his strike at Mr Wilson who in his open and frank letter – given the title ‘Go and play football in the park' – Recorder March 19, merely pointed out the problems and dangers faced by children playing in the streets in his area (which sadly do not have 20mph zones) and promoted Redbridge’s parks & green spaces, which also suggests the need for their protection.

Green spaces and areas of play are continually being lost due to the lack of enforcement of the pathetic planning laws that have been handed down by and to successive lazy and incompetent administrations. I can only hazard a guess at which Party Mr Lewis represents but, with regard to areas of play, particularly in the political arena, I suggest that he takes a good, long and hard look in his own back yard.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gunstock
Leading Spokesperson
The Green Party – Redbridge
Green Party Candidate for the Wanstead by-election

The above letter is in repsonse to this: Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Trouble with Comments

As you all know, Weggis [me] is Ashley’s secret agent and blog manager. It is me who has been moderating and authorising comments submitted to this blog on Ashley’s behalf. I had assumed that each time I did so, that Ashley was getting an email notifying him that the comment had been published along with the content of that comment, like I do on my own blog. So if he wanted to respond he could do so. Unfortunately I forgot to set the parameter to make that happen.

My apologies to all commenters. The problem is now fixed.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Village Feel

Letter to the Wanstead & Woodford Guardian

Dear Editor,

Should Redbridge accept any proposal to permit Tesco to operate at the old Woolworth store in Wanstead, the Council will perfectly illustrate how out of touch with the character of the area it is and demonstrate the total disregard it has for its residents and independent businesses.

Yet another chain store would negatively impact on the existing make-up of the high street, cause people to lose their livelihoods and, due to the further traffic congestion and inherent parking difficulties, seriously undermine the village atmosphere of the surrounding environs.

It is our understanding that Somerfield was looking to sell its plot to the ethical Co-operative group and a like for like business exchange should not pose any further problems. Furthermore this type outlet would be ideal for Wanstead, especially in view of the London Borough of Redbridge’s recently acquired Fairtrade status.

Wanstead does not need another supermarket and certainly not a Tesco, what with there already being three in the immediate vicinity and in view of this we shall encourage a protest in the strongest possible terms in an effort to put a stop to this economical, social, ethical and environmental nonsensical scheme.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Gunstock
Leading Spokesman
The Green Party - Redbridge

Dreams Can Come True

Letter to The Observer

Dear Sir,

Politicians, especially, of all hues of the political spectrum, would do well to take heed of Andrew Rawnsley's assessment of the predicament facing Barack Obama.

As Mr Rawnsley suggested all people around the globe should rejoice and celebrate the wonderful news that an Afro-American has become a President of the United States of America, without pessimism or, indeed, cynicism.

However, as he also outlined, the weight of expectation - as it was with Nelson Mandela - is great and there are many pitfalls left by the malpractice of the Bush administration that may hamper President Obama in his quest to help make the world a better place.

Therefore, instead of standing back and admiring and/or waiting to see the outcome of Mr Obama's deeds, we should all as of now do all that we can - individually and collectively, at home and abroad - to wake from our present nightmares and fullfil our dreams.

The opportunity of hope that Barack Obama's presidency offers us comes around only once in a lifetime. If we do not strive and make this work, we dreamers of dreams might just as well abandon all hope.

Yours faithfully

Ashley Gunstock
Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate
Leyton & Wanstead