Hundreds of people marched against racism in Canterbury on Wednesday 12th June and in solidarity with the victim of a vicious attack on an exchange student of Lebanese descent visiting Canterbury last week. The attack on Thursday 6th put the 17-year-old German exchange student is in a serious condition in hospital after he was attacked by a group of teenagers, leaving him with severe head injuries that required emergency surgery.
The march was organised by Canterbury Labour Chair Ben Hickman but well attended by all political parties wishing to send their good wishes to the young victim and his family who, whilst living in Germany are not EU citizens, and as such had to seek an emergency visa to visit him after the attack. In the immediate aftermath of the attack Rosie Duffield had approached the home secretary, Sajid Javid, and urged him to expedite matters so the boy’s parents could visit as soon as possible. Mr Javid intervened personally on Saturday to arrange an emergency visa.
The clear message of themarch was to “say it loud, say it clear, don’t give in to racist fear”, and a massive community repudiation of racism and violence.
Everyone present sent their collective thanks to thank the emergency services fora speedy response, and especially to the Kent Air Ambulance Service who airlifted the victim speedily to a London hospital. The Crowdfunding appeal set up to support the victim’s mother and family in travelling to visit is still running.The family have said they want some of this fund to go to the Air Ambulance Service as they are so thankful for it. If you want to contribute please go to:https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/paulm-johnson
Here are some photos of the march together with recordings of speeches given.
Labour campaigners braved the drizzle this afternoon outside Wincheap Primary School, to raise support for an issue close to locals’ hearts. In July 2017, Wincheap Park received a long-overdue re-vamp, transforming it into a venue that has become very popular with children and parents alike. Walk past it on a sunny day after school closing time and the numbers speak for themselves. Until, that is, a child requires a trip to the toilet. The former toilet block on the site served the main road for a number of years, until recent problems with drug use closed it permanently, resulting in the sale of the site. Currently, children either opt to return home, which is sometimes a considerable walk, or to go behind the bushes. Labour’s campaign, to encourage the Council to “spend a penny” was well-received by parents at the school gates, who recognise the need for the toilets’ return.
Campaign leader Paul Todd understands the difficulties facing parents due to the lack of facilities. “Being a father of four children,” said Mr Todd, “all of whom attended Wincheap Primary and made good use of the park over the years, the closure of the toilets means that this wonderful resource is being under-utilised. I’m passionate about putting it back on the Council’s agenda.”
While the site is currently in private hands, the building stands vacant, unkempt and over-grown. If the existing toilets could not be returned to Council ownership, space exists for an alternative block, or even a single toilet, within the park boundaries, subject to its opening hours. Unmanned toilets have been a success at Toddlers’ Cove and in the Dane John Gardens, where ultraviolet lights have addressed the issue of drug use. While the Council may consider Wincheap’s park to be on a smaller scale, of interest only to locals, the issue is a matter of quite some importance for parents, and the nature of the busy A28 means the park also attracts passers-by. Labour campaigners will be submitting their arguments, and the petition, to the Council in the coming weeks