NEW GROUP WANTS YOU TO REPORT COUNCIL FAILINGS TO THEM / “COUNCILS SHOULD REMOVE NAME AND GENDER DETAILS TO HELP IMPROVE EQUALITY” / STUBBING OUT ILLEGAL CIGARETTES AND TOBACCO
A new community group called Backing Bromley has set up a confidential hotline for residents to report council failings and the impact of cuts on local services.
Backing Bromley say they have already received “serious reports” of failures by the council and will be collating a dossier of information for residents.
“We will be exposing a catalogue of problems in Bromley which just aren’t being addressed by the council and in many cases they are a direct result of the decisions being made by councillors.
“The council are failing the old. “Over a quarter of care homes in the borough require improvement.
“Bromley are failing to provide enough school places for our children. “Backing Bromley have also learnt that parents of disabled children often find it hard to get support from Bromley.”
Bromley resident David Christian said: “Backing Bromley have opened a hotline for residents to voice their concerns about council failings and the impact of cuts on local services.
“Just from talking to people in the borough we are already being told of problems which are not being dealt with. “There is evidence coming forward of failings in Bromley council and Backing Bromley will be collating a dossier for residents.
“Over a thousand households have raised estate agency-style signs to put their councillors on alert that they are no longer prepared to accept elected leaders falling short of their responsibilities to the young, the old and the vulnerable.
Over 1000 residents from 11 wards took part in the collective actions in Bromley Common and Keston, Bickley, Chelsfield and Pratts Bottom, Chislehurst, Copers Cope, Cray Valley West, Farnborough and Crofton, Hayes and Coney Hall, Plaistow and Sundridge.
A free phone number 0800 852 7479 and an e-mail [email protected] are now live. The group’s webpage can be found at http://backingbromley.org/
“COUNCILS SHOULD REMOVE NAME AND GENDER DETAILS TO HELP IMPROVE EQUALITY”
London Assembly member Sian Berry has written to the leaders of Croydon, Lambeth, and Southwark, councils urging them to follow City Hall in removing names for recruitment processes and introducing gender neutral options on official forms.
Sian has already won the agreement of the Mayor to introduce the following measures at City Hall:
1. Giving people the option not to reveal their gender when filling in forms to access service, include a choice of gender neutral titles
2. Name-blind shortlisting processes when recruiting staff
These changes will help improve privacy and data protection when filling out forms and make it harder for deliberate or unconscious discrimination to affect employment decisions.
Sian Berry says: “Disappointingly, I have found bad practice on many public sector websites, requiring gender details when asking people to fill in forms just to access services like parking or to leave comments on planning applications.
“People should not have to choose between male and female when giving their personal details to public bodies. “And people should not be subject to discrimination when applying for a job because of their name.
“These tiny changes to the current processes would be a step in the right direction to be more inclusive to all of the residents councils represent
“The Mayor has responded positively on these issues. “I hope that London’s councils, if they are not already doing this, make these simple improvements to be more inclusive to all Londoners.
A spokesperson for Sian Berry said: “In response to written questions from Sian Berry, the Mayor has promised to review the information that is currently required on forms across the GLA group and consider any necessary changes to make them more inclusive.
“The Mayor has also agreed to begin using name-blind recruitment in City Hall.
“Many people, including many non-binary, intersex and transgender people, may prefer not to select a gender when filling in a form, or may wish to use a gender-neutral title when giving information.
“Public bodies are also required to follow data protection principles and avoid collecting information that isn’t necessary.
“In October 2015, a number of public and private organisations, including the Civil Service signed up a pledge to recruit on a name-blind basis to address discrimination.
“Despite this, a review of the GLA group of organisations recently found several examples of bad practice, including the form to leave comments on the GLA’s own website.”
Sian Berry was elected as a Green member of the London Assembly in May 2016. She has been a councillor for Highgate ward in Camden since 2014.
STUBBING OUT ILLEGAL CIGARETTES AND TOBACCO
Unregulated toxins, lost revenue, and proceeds being used to finance the activities of criminal gangs – just three reasons that Croydon Council’s trading standards (TS) team is urging people to boycott illegal cigarettes and tobacco.
Acting on reports of sales of contraband and counterfeit tobacco goods across the borough, TS officers are appealing for help from the public in tracking down and prosecuting traders in the potentially lethal products.
In the past year, the team has notched a major success in raiding a factory churning out hundreds of thousands of pounds-worth of fake branded rolling tobacco. Approximately 4,600 50g packets of fake Golden Virginia Hand Rolling Tobacco, with an approximate street value of £85,000, were found packed and ready for delivery.
In only one month, the criminal gang responsible had produced more than 13,000 packets with a street value in the region of £250,000. It is estimated there was sufficient material on site to make a further £250,000-worth of fakes.
Smuggling and large-scale counterfeiting operations cost more than £2bn in lost revenue each year. They are dominated by internationally organised criminal groups that are often involved in other crimes, such as drug smuggling and people trafficking.
And, without the proper checks and controls in place, illegally produced tobacco has been found to contain dangerous levels of cadmium, lead and tar, as well as human faeces, dead flies and mould.
National health initiatives have been responsible for a drop in the number of people smoking, and the harm it causes. High duty rates, making tobacco less affordable, have also helped reduce smoking prevalence in the UK from 26% of adults to 19% over the past 15 years.
However, counterfeiting and smuggling undermine this good work, offering a cheaper alternative, for those who might otherwise be deterred by cost, to continue their habit.
Illegal packets of cigarettes will typically cost between £3 and £5, and will be produced from concealed areas in shops. This is detrimental to the majority of retailers who sell genuine products at the normal selling price, resulting in a loss of custom, and jeopardising their livelihoods.
Croydon’s cabinet member for communities, safety and justice Cllr Hamida Ali said: “Quite apart from the harm smokers of illegal cigarettes are probably doing themselves, what also has to be borne in mind is the fact that, by buying them, the smoker is helping to finance genuine evils, in the shape of drug smuggling, people trafficking and modern slavery.
“People are often unaware that that’s where their money’s going.
“Consumers should be very cautious and avoid the temptation to save money by purchasing illegal cigarettes. “I’d also ask that anybody who’s offered them, or who knows somewhere that’s selling them, reports the matter.
“Successful convictions will send the message that we’re on the look-out for them and that it simply doesn’t pay to offer illicit tobacco goods for sale.”
Anybody with information on shops or individuals selling cheap cigarettes or tobacco is asked to report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 040506 or email [email protected] (Source: Croydon council press release)