‘I was singled out and heckled. I was the only black man there’

When GLEN HART attended a meeting of what is supposed to be a council-funded community group, he was abused for daring to ask questions. But he was even more shocked when he saw that he was the only black man attending CCC’s AGM

Glen Hart:

Glen Hart: someone else who won’t be “engaging” in CCC’s “open” and “welcoming” meetings again

The Croydon Communities [sic] Consortium, or CCC, is a strange and unaccountable organisation in my view. I went along to their annual meeting last week with a few questions. These included:

• Would the former CCC vice-chair Clive Locke admit to having re-tweeted a racially offensive picture?
• Why has it taken CCC so long to investigate these issues? Was it, in fact, investigating them at all?

Despite all the CCC’s publicity claiming to welcome people attending their meetings, as the AGM got underway the chair, Elizabeth Ash, loudly announced that there were attendees in the Town Hall chamber who had not signed the register.

She then singled me out to check whether I had signed it. It was at this point I realised – I was the only black man in the room!

I had signed in, so I was able to dismiss all implication of wrongdoing.

The chairperson provided a lengthy report, describing the committee’s purpose and detailing the incidents that had occurred over the previous months. Phrases such as, “open meetings”, “feedback welcome”, “apolitical” and “equality” were bandied about by the chairperson, who seemed very much to like the sound of her own voice.

The chairperson then commenced a long and winding complaint about Inside Croydon’s report (The Ed writes: what, this entirely accurate report?), about Croydon Council giving the CCC an ultimatum; and about individuals (no names mentioned) who had taken exception to CCC’s role and “work”.

After what seemed an eternity, the chairperson finally opened the meeting proper to allow others to have a say.

After some opening remarks, I then raised my questions. I said that I felt it was shameful that the CCC has allowed one of its officers to bring it into disrepute, surely, by Tweeting racist material.

What followed was a hotly contested defence. First, the chairperson elaborated, at length, the reason why everyone else was at fault. Another three offered their reasons as to why the committee was innocent of any wrongdoing.

In spite of my questions not being answered, I offered to respond to points specifically directed at me. Ash then interrupted and suggested to the meeting, again at length, that it was time to move on.

I insisted my questions be addressed, but was shouted down by the chairperson and a host of elderly gentlemen. After I made another attempt, Ash threatened to have me expelled from the meeting, which met with loud murmurs of approval.

Russell Brand for once is lost for words. Or maybe he could not get a word in edgeways with the CCC chairwoman

Russell Brand for once is lost for words. Or maybe he could not get a word in edgeways with the CCC chairwoman, Elizabeth Ash

After a long discussion on finance, questions from the floor finally were allowed.

After being ignored for some time, I was able eventually to enquire whether it was appropriate to use public money to fund a community organisation which seemed content to accept members with what appeared to be racist views.

I was heckled and accused of being a troublemaker.

Andrew Stevensen, who stood as a Conservative Party council election candidate earlier this year, had spent the entire meeting up to that point laughing and joking with Peter Staveley, who I know to be a senior official in UKIP. But now Stevensen broke off from his friendly chat to accuse me of asking questions simply to wage a Twitter campaign against CCC. I don’t think he intended any irony.

I took exception to this, but the chair sought to limit further damage by evading the point, and simply reiterated that there was no impropriety relating to the CCC’s expenditure. I was not reassured.

The meeting continued, with none of my questions answered.

Later, someone suggested a show of hands for each person nominated to the CCC committee. Most, if not all, were nominated by the chairperson herself. All were unopposed.

Staveley, who will be standing in Croydon Central in May for UKIP, was nominated to become Ash’s deputy chair. Ash went on at some length to explain that nominating a UKIP member was fully permissible within the council’s rules. She recommended Staveley.

Eventually, and mercifully, the meeting ended. It would appear that CCC, ostensibly a community organisation, is content to welcome members who seem to have racist views, and while claiming to be apolitical, manages to welcome Tory and UKIP party members, although they appear much less happy to welcome to their meetings other members of the community to have a say.

My advice to readers therefore is this: stay well clear of CCC.

  • Glen Hart works as a transport union official and is the parliamentary candidate for Croydon North for the Trades Unionist and Socialist Coalition

Coming to Croydon

  • Inside Croydon: Croydon’s only independent news source, based in the heart of the borough: 407,847 page views (Jan-Jun 2014) If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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10 Responses to ‘I was singled out and heckled. I was the only black man there’

  1. blath8 says:

    This sounds completely at odds with the CCC meeting that I attended earlier this year where the focus was on fly-tipping. That meeting was well organised and efficiently run, and I certainly wouldn’t say that there were any problems or issues with the way it had been chaired.

    I will certainly attend future meetings as these are a great forum for the discussion of local issues.

  2. I and others who had become involved in the issue behind the scenes added our views and assessment at the CCC meeting. Essentially the facts are that Clive Locke re-tweeted an image, had no recollection of doing it, may have accidentally done so because of his restricted motor skills due to his disability, and had publicly apologised.

    He had not been asked to give an explanation to the Council, which had reportedly referred the matter to the police. The police have no record of such a referral and therefore no crime number. I explained concern about what appeared to be the Council acting as judge and jury against the principles of natural justice, something to be argued again for the benefit of others who might have accusations made against them in the future.

    Mediation has been recommended between an individual concerned about the issue and CCC; the suggestion had been agreed to by Elizabeth Ash on behalf of CCC, but rejected by the individual.

    When Glen Hart continued to press the matter, and because of growing discontent with the time being taken up by the matter by many present, it was eventually agreed to defer further discussion on the issue until the end of the meeting.

    After the meeting I talked to Glen; I asked him why if he was so concerned about equal opportunities in Croydon he was wasting his time with some trivial group with £5,000 when the big question seemed to be how the CEO of Croydon Council could possibly have been appointed without a proper, transparent selection procedure in place that would have enabled a proper range of candidates to be selected from.

    Surely he should be asking about the equality of opportunities at the strategic level of the Council where most seepage of a racist nature seems to slip out?

  3. mraemiller says:

    “It was at this point I realised – I was the only black man in the room!”

    Maybe they were going for quality over quantity?

  4. Just go to every single shop on London road Broad Green (almost all shops are owned by people from BME communities) and ask if Clive Locke is a racist. They just love him. He has helped so many shop owners with their issues.

    • So how do you explain the four or five racist and UKIP-supporting tweets sent from Locke’s Twitter account?

      Incompetence? Given his position within CCC, that’s a resigning issue, too.

    • Duona says:

      That is the worst thing about this whole fiasco.
      Clive Locke was gaining the trust of BroadGreen Asian businesses to put himself in a position of a ‘Community Leader’, whilst in reality was tweeting anonymously in support of UKIP, as a Crusader called DrakeKnight, many many messages through his whole timeline, not just one or two.
      He admitted to deliberately sharing a more extreme racist picture in the article by Gareth Davies, before the CCC tried to backtrack and cover up.
      Most of those businesses have been told Clive’s finger slipped..shamelessly blaming his disability for a “mistake”…. easily done.
      If you do not understand how Twitter works, you can be easily fooled, as the businesses have been.
      Clive had been on Twitter for over a year, he was an expert on writing tweets and he writes prolific emails, his disability was no barrier to that. It was no mistake.
      This is the worst kind of betrayal in my mind.
      Clive has been called “extremely duplicitous” by a leading Muslim community member in the area.
      He will be exposed fully, and then those who colluded to pull the wool over the Broad Green shopkeepers eyes are going to be held responsible.
      Croydon Communities Consortium is now exposed for what it always was.. a UKIP propaganda machine paid for by us.
      When are you going to put the interests of the BroadGreen Community first Patrick?

  5. Though I don’t live in Broadgreen I go there to shop eat and meet people. I just got back from there. I certainly care about the community in Broadgreen. I am not defending Clive or any one else here. All I am trying to say is the feedback I got from shopkeepers in Broadgreen.

    I am not expecting anything from anyone in Broadgreen. It is so sad that some human beings have so much hatred towards others.

    I have absolutely no idea what CCC is and what they do. I have no hidden agenda like some others who claim to be the so called self appointed community leaders.

    There is a fantastic community (The Ahmedian) in Broadgreen who are very helpful to others and also believe in loving all human beings and having no hatred towards others. Perhaps we should learn from them.

    • Duona says:

      “Just go to every single shop on London road Broad Green (almost all shops are owned by people from BME communities) and ask if Clive Locke is a racist. They just love him. He has helped so many shop owners with their issues.”
      My mistake, Patrick if I thought this was a defence of Clive. Obviously I’m missing the deeper meaning.

      Maybe before you comment, you should find out about the CCC, as Clive was Vice Chair there until he had to step down because he shared a racist post.

      Since then it has come to light that he was a fervent UKIP supporter on Twitter, which shows that tweet in a whole different light.

      The CCC has attacked those raising issues of racism and hate crime in Croydon, notably Glen Hart at their AGM.
      Clive is leading that attack along with Elizabeth Ash, chair of Croydon Communities Consortium who have now appointed Peter Staveley of UKIP as their new vice chair.

      I’ve never claimed to be a Community Leader, I was put in a position through circumstances that devastated my whole family, but I will not stand by and let those with UKIP views like Clive speak unchallenged on behalf of a diverse Broad Green Community, where I have lived for 50 years, run a business for 30 years and call my home.

      If you had any regard for the Broad Green Businesses you would be pointing them in the direction of the facts about Clive (inside croydon posts) before they find out they have been taken for a UKIP ride by him.

      • I never even thought that you were a community leader. There are so many of the self appointed leaders . Local newspapers sometimes claim that I am a community leader which reminds me of “Citizen Khan”.

        I m not here to defend Clive or criticise anyone. I just stated what I was told by many business people in Broadgreen.

        I have no time for UKIP.

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