Friday, October 09, 2009

Letter to the Leader of Tower Hamlets Council, Councillor Lutfur Rahman

On 11 September, Declan wrote to the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, in his capacity as Archbishop of the Diocese of Westminster, regarding his formal complaint of discrimination against the Congregation of the Sisters of Mercy (see blog of 11 September “Declan’s formal complaint against the Sisters of Mercy lodged with the Archbishop of Westminster”). Having received nothing by way of reply, he took his complaint on 23 September to the Apostolic Nunciature to Great Britain, Archbishop Faustino Sainz Muñoz (see blog “Open Letter to the Papal Nuncio in London”), and then on 2 October to Pope Benedict XVI (see blog “Open Letter to Pope Benedict XVI”). Well, Declan has received a reply from the Papal Nuncio – the letter was dated 2 October but it only arrived yesterday – signed by the Archbishop himself. He says that Declan's dispute with the Sisters of Mercy “is not a matter in which I, as Apostolic Nuncio, have any right to intervene”. Oh, well.

In a nutshell, on 19 August the Providence Row charity run by the Sisters of Mercy denied us access to food by effectively barring us from entering their Dellow Day Centre in the morning (a coffee in the afternoon is fine!), notwithstanding all the difficulties we are experiencing trying to get the benefits we are entitled to - and this after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) put us to the street for more than 2 1/2 years (see, for example, blog of 21 October 2008 “European Court of Human Rights declares application inadmissible”). I have probably written more than a dozen blogs on the various ways the DWP keeps me on zero money since NAC Honorary Associate Dr. Jim Fetzer, Distinguished McKnight Professor Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth, found us a roof over our heads on 13 July (see, for example, the previous blog “More problems regarding the suspension of my benefits by the Department for Work and Pensions”).

This evening Declan wrote to the Leader of Tower Hamlets Council, Councillor Lutfur Rahman, regarding Idea Store Whitechapel, the borough's flagship library, learning and information service. We frequently run into trouble in this library, especially with computer bookings and internet access; but since 29 September I have been repeatedly denied access to the internet via my laptop. In the blog dated 6 October “Once again no access to the internet for me in Idea Store Whitechapel library via my laptop”, I publish a snag which shows that that day my access to their network was restricted to “Local only”. Well, today it's “Local and Internet”, as this snag clearly shows:



For the record, this is Declan's email to Cllr. Rahman:

Subject: Idea Store Whitechapel

Dear Cllr. Rahman,

I refer further to the attached copy of my correspondence with the former Head of Idea Stores, Mr. Ian McNicol, to whom the former Leader of Tower Hamlets Council, Cllr. Denise Jones, referred my original complaint of 21 January 2008 regarding repeated loss of computer bookings and internet access at Idea Store Whitechapel, the borough's flagship library, learning and information service.

I wish to draw to your attention that since 29 September my wife has been repeatedly denied access to the internet via her laptop at the Idea Store. For example, most recently, on 5 October, I had to once again write to the Manager, Mr. Asab Ali, copied to the Head of Cultural Affairs, Ms. Heather Bonfield:


Previous correspondence refers. I wish to confirm that all afternoon my wife has not had access to the internet via her laptop. Once again, her access to the Idea Store network was restricted to "Local only".


On 30 September, the IT technician told my wife that it was “mystery” as to why her access to the Idea Store network had been restricted to “Local only”. This afternoon her access has been "Local and Internet" and she has had no difficulties accessing the internet at the Idea Store via her laptop.

I reconfirm that since my complaint to Cllr. Jones, my wife and I not only have experienced repeated loss of computer bookings and internet access, but several other problems to boot. These are just a handful of examples of the many problems we have encountered:

1) 1 February 2008: the Principal Idea Store Manager, Mr. Sergio Dogliani, writes to me advising that the restriction by Idea Store Whitechapel of both my wife and I to a 3-hour maximum free computer use per day as from 29 January stands, despite that for several months previous we were given “additional time” subject to computer availability and in accordance with the Council's then and current “Idea Stores PC Usage Policy”;

2) 24 June 2008: at approximately 12.30pm, a member of staff threatens my wife with security if she does not give her computer up to another card holder whose name appears on the monitor, despite that a half an hour earlier a member of staff has confirmed in writing that my wife has the computer booked in her name from 11.30am to 2.30pm;

3) 3 August 2008: both of the computers my wife and I have booked the previous day contains a virus which spreads to the two USB drives we are using. This renders my wife's portable programs inoperable. It also corrupts some of my most valuable data, namely: a Word document containing a categorised list of over 150 British signatories of a petition of mine to the United Nations on therapeutic cloning, and a related database containing the names, email addresses and contact information for more than 3,000 scientists and academics from around the world;

4) 6 August 2008: at approximately 2.45pm, MIMEsweeper blocks access to my Gmail account due to “Porn Detected”. Following the restoration of my access to the account some 20 minutes later, the IT technician advises that this “may happen again for any length of time”.

5) 13 May 2009: at approximately 1.30pm, two security guards rudely, aggressively and in a bullish manner insist that my wife gives her computer up to another card holder whose name appears on the monitor, despite that she had the computer booked in her name from 1.15pm to 2.15pm.

I beg to point out that each of the above incidents were confirmed in my previous email to you of 13 May.

As I explained in my initial complaint to you of 4 August 2008 following (3) above, my petition to the United Nations on therapeutic cloning has been signed by recognised authorities from the world's leading universities and research institutes. The petition to date has been signed by 591 scientists and academics, including 24 Nobel Laureates.

Please would you acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely
Declan Heavey

cc Ms. Heather Bonfield, Head of Cultural Affairs
Mr. Asab Ali, Manager, Idea Store Whitechapel

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Declan Heavey
Email: dheavey@gmail.com

Home address:
83 Priory Gardens
London N6 5QU