Birmingham, like many other cities, has a desperate shortage of genuinely free social space. Currently there are several developments going on, either carried out or supported by Birmingham City Council, that threaten social space and will increase social exclusion of the poor and minority or marginalised groups:
- Day centres for disabled people, the elderly and those with mental health problems are being closed down across Birmingham, ostensibly as part of a plan to "modernise" social services and reduce segregation and social exclusion, but BCC is set to make large amounts of money from the sale of the buildings and nothing concrete appears to be replacing these services. See previous Indymedia article: https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/birmingham/2008/01/388770.html
- Public space in the City Centre is under threat, with police and private security from shopping centres such as the Bullring colluding to harass those protesting or handing out information about social alternatives in High Street and New Street. See previous Indymedia article: https://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/birmingham/2008/03/393179.html
- Buildings all over the city that could be put to use either as affordable housing (something else Birmingham desperately needs) or as non-commercial social space are being left to rot and become unuseable, with the inevitable result being demolition and the land being turned over to private developers. (see articles about previous social centres - The Cottage: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/regions/birmingham/2006/07/344533.html and The Nursery: http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2004/08/296829.html )
Even the commercial spaces we can afford to go to are under threat. These pubs and clubs offer a sense of community which the multi-chain alternatives don't.
- Pub landlords in Digbeth are being harassed by the imposition of Noise Abatement Orders to prevent live music events from happening, which will almost certainly result in them being forced out of business - making room for more "exclusive" luxury flats for the rich and intolerant. See Keep Digbeth Vibrant campaign: http://www.keepdigbethvibrant.co.uk/ and The Stirrer: http://www.thestirrer.co.uk/
Other live music venues in Birmingham which once encouraged DIY culture have also recently either lost their licences or been taken over by corporate chains, eg. the Bear Tavern and the Epic Skate Park.
We stand opposed to both the currently available "options" of patronising and stigmatising state-provided services which segregate us and of commercial spaces which exclude us because we can't afford to go there. We fight back against both capitalism and state paternalism, and demand genuinely free social space in Birmingham!
Meet: Outside the Council House, Victoria Square
2pm, Friday 11th April
This is an event for spontaneous protest around these issues. Please bring
your banners, whistles and drums!
Free Space Collective