UK Social Struggles Feature Archive
Forest Field residents appear to have defeated plans to build a major food store in the area. The day after a well-attended public meeting called by the Forest Fields Improvement Association on Monday 12th January, it was revealed that the proposal had been withdrawn.
When the proposals were originally announced, there were concerns expressed that the proposal threatened the viability of well established, community-led businesses in the neighbourhood. A similar trend has been seen across much of the country with the growth of large supermarkets often to the detriment of the local area.
Both Heathrow and Manchester airports were targeted Monday with the domestic departure lounges of both airports simultaneously occupied by protesters. In London over 500 people defied airport bylaws by staging a sit-down dinner forcing airport operator BAA to close 18 check-in desks. In Manchester police used powers under Section 14 of the Public Order Act to contain up to 100 protesters on the ground floor of Terminal 3 and there was one arrest.
The Climate Rush actions were timed to coincide with MPs return to the house of commons with the government expected to announce the decision on the Heathrows airport expansion during week. Meanwhile, Greenpeace revealed that a plot of land within the proposed expansion site had been purchased in an attempt to delay the construction.
Despite media speculation that the announcement would be delayed, by Wednesday nght the media were reporting that the expanision plans have been given the green light. After the official announcement on Thursday, 'climate suffragettes' smashed the windows of the Department of Transport and on Saturday 500 flash mobbed at Heathrows terminal 5.
Newswire Reports : Climate Rush Heathrow images, 12.01.09 | Heathrow Terminal One Climate Rush Picnic a success! | Northern Climate Rush at Manchester Airport | Northern Climate Rush Photos (video) | Protests against airport extension in Frankfurt | Why I renounce my vote | Suffra-jets smash windows
Campaign Links: Plane Stupid | Airport Watch | Climate Rush | T5Flashmob"> | HACAN ClearSkies | No Third Runway Action Group | Stop Heathrow Expansion | Campaign for Better Transport | Airport Pledge | Stop Bristol Airport Expansion
The Neighbourhood Development Company (NDC) is part of the government's New Deal for Communities project to regenerate some of Britain's poorest inner city neighbourhoods. NDC in Nottingham has received millions of pounds of funding to bring positive change to the Radford area over the past 8 years.
The partnership has had a controversial history, culminating in the sacking of its entire Board of Directors earlier this year. In spite of, or perhaps because it is paying its Chief Executive £47k for a 3-day a week job, the organisation has come under criticism for being out of touch with the community and its lack of financial transparency. In spite of the fact that it is set to receive £12m from the government over the next 2 years, NDC is rumoured to be selling the Tennyson Hall community centre, which contradicts its mission to "improve and bring back into use" the assets under its control.
Previous Feature: Community centres under fire
The past few months have seen a number of bad news stories for Nottingham's community centres. The Chase Neighbourhood Centre in St Anns has made 30 staff redundant and is rumoured to be on the brink of closure, whilst there are reports that Neighbourhood Development Company (NDC) are looking to sell Radford's historic Tennyson Hall youth and community centre. The Chase Centre is in need of local support.
It has been suggested that with the credit crunch hitting Nottingham, local authorities may drastically cut funding for community centres and other community projects. This underlines the need for autonomous community centres, such as the Sumac Centre in Forest Fields, which continues to develop.
Previous Feature: End of the Road for ASBO
On Saturday 25th October 2008,several hundred people attended the 10th Annual United Families & Friends Remembrance procession which was led by many family members of those who have died in suspicious circumstances in police custody, prison and 'secure' mental health facilities.
In customary tradition the procession made its way in dignified silence from Trafalgar Square down Whitehall to Downing Street in dutiful respect to those who mourn the loss of loved ones and to invoke their memory and the collective injustices that their deaths represent. In the past year 182 such deaths have been recorded recorded, and a banner carried in the march listed over 2500 who have died.
Staff members belonging to the University and College Union (UCU) at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) were on strike yesterday, in protest against the university's derecognition of their union and plans to cut facility time for union representatives. Derecognition is an extreme move by the university authorities and is seen by the strikers as an attack on their right to organise independently.
Over three-quarters (77%) of members voted for the strike, which is supported by the UCU nationally. The action follows a rally on 6th Oct attended by UCU members from across the country which challenged the university's vice-chancellor's address to new students.
Newswire: Workers on strike at Nottingham Trent University | Demo by University & College Union, derecognised at Nottingham Trent University | UCU members vote for industrial action at Nottingham Trent University | UCU to ballot on strike action at Nottingham Trent University
It has emerged that Nottingham City Council had £42 million invested in the Icelandic banks which last week collapsed as a result of the "credit crunch," putting this money at risk. While Nottingham was not the only council to invested in these banks, Nottingham's investments are notable when the city's population is taken into account. One commentator estimated that "the possible loss in Nottingham could be £150.69 for every woman, man and child in the city." (By comparison, the per capita figure in Kent which had around £50 million invested, is £35.85.)
There are concerns that the city council may respond to the loss through job cuts, cutting services and/or increasing council tax. Nottingham and Mansfield Trades Council organised a demo in Market Square on Monday 13th October, demanding that Gordon Brown bail the council out, rather than leaving city residents to pay the cost of their rulers' poor investments.
On Friday the 20th September, the pipe laying ship, the Solitaire, finally left Irish waters. During the ship's time in Ireland, Shell failed to lay any part of the offshore pipe line. The departure of the Solitaire is a massive victory for the Shell to Sea campaign. Resistance in the past six weeks has taken many different forms: fishermen preventing the ship's access to the bay by refusing to move from her path, site invasions by local people and the Rossport Solidarity Camp, numerous waterborne actions to prevent work by supporters from other parts of Ireland and further afield, national and international solidarity actions and finally, an 11 day hunger strike by local campaigner Maura Harrington, that continued until the ship left Irish waters. The events of the last 6 weeks have inspired not only those involved, but also many who witnessed them from afar, new links and friendships have been forged and many lessons learned. In the aftermath, the Shell to Sea campaign can clearly be seen to have been revitalized, both locally and nationally. It is unclear when the ship will attempt to return to Broadhaven Bay. It is possible it could still be this year if repairs are quick and a suitable weather window appears, or it may not be until next spring. However, while it may be uncertain exactly when the ship will return, what is certain, is that it will meet even greater opposition upon its next arrival. Come and be part of it! The Rossport community is calling on people everywhere to put pressure on Shell, Allseas (the company that owns the Solitaire) and Irish embassies to demand that the Solitaire leaves Irish waters immediately.
Newswire: rossport solidarity action at irish consulate | The Solitaire leaves the Bayr | Rooftop occupation of Shells offices in Belmullet | Update from 11th of September | Daughter of Shell to Sea hunger striker paddles out to Solitaire | Rossport Solidarity Action in London | Rossport Solidarity Demo in London on Monday!! | Son of Shell to Sea hunger striker assaulted and arrested |Support Maura Harrington on hunger strike | Irish Embassy targetted for Rossport in Berlin | Rossport: Solidarity Action in Brighton | Rossport: The Time is Now | Rossport update | Urgent Call Out: Mayo Needs You! Now Is The Time
The week ending 31st August saw Rossport Solidarity camp reborn and the week of action against offshore pipeline work extended.
The week of action was called in anticipation of the arrival of the world’s largest pipeline ship, the Solitaire. However, due to bad weather conditions the ship’s arrival was delayed. Nonetheless, actions took place throughout the week against preparatory pipeline work, including disruption of dredging work designed to create the trench for the pipe, site invasions into Shell’s compound, and a visit by Shell to Sea kayakers to the Solitaire.
Friday the 29th of August saw better weather conditions and the arrival of the winching rig and cable and the return of the dredging machine into the bay.
The Navy also arrived (the first time the Navy has ever been used in an operation against a civil demonstration).
If the good weather holds, Shell will attempt to complete the near shore part of the pipeline in the next few days.
Believed to be booked up for the next 2 years, the Solitaire has a very short time frame to complete its part in the pipeline construction. Resistance now is crucial and the Rossport community have made a call out for people to come to the area to support the campaign. Check out feature additions and comments for regular updates.
The rest of the article outlines some of the recent history of the campaign...
Since early in the morning on 1st August, 20 participants of this year's Camp for Climate Action and members of Action Against Agrofuels successfully blockaded the only access gate to Cargill's European regional head office in Cobham, Surrey. 8 activists locked on to the gates closing the site down completely. Agrobusiness giant Cargill are being targeted by the protesters for their role in rainforest destruction and land-grabbing as well as for profiteering from the food crisis.
Hannah Ritchie from the group says: "Cargill is using the boom in agrofuels to expand soya, palm oil and sugar plantations, displacing communities, food crops and destroying ecosystems. Destroying rainforests and other biodiverse ecosystems, including healthy soils, is one of the quickest ways of heating the planet. This is why we are blockading the Cargill office two days before the official start of the Climate Camp at Kingsnorth."
On Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 July, local government workers in Unison and Unite took part in a 48 hour strike. The action was in response to the "final" 2.45% pay offer made by the employers (which, given the current rate of inflation, constitutes a real terms pay cut) and part of a wider struggle being waged across the public sector against what the government call "pay restraint."
Support for the strike seems to have been patchy. Nevertheless, there were pickets at council offices across the country and thousands of schools were closed as teaching assistansts, caretakers, midday supervisors and admin staff walked out. Larger towns and cities saw a number of rallies and marches.
Newswire: Local Government Strike: Day Two | Patchy Support for Public Sector Strike | I'd Rather Be A Cyclist Than A Scab: UNISON Strike Birmingham | Local authority workers walk out over pay cut | Local Government Strike: Day One | UNISON Local Government Members Strike Over Pay | Public service Strike 16-17th July and rally at Guildhall on 16th | Council workers to strike over pay | Local government workers to strike over pay
Regional Feature: Local Government Workers in Notts Join National Strike
On Wednesday 16 and Thursday 17 July, local government workers in Unison and Unite took part in a 48 hour strike. The action was in response to the "final" 2.45% pay offer made by the employers (which, given the current rate of inflation, constitutes a real terms pay cut) and part of a wider struggle being waged against the public sector against what the government call "pay restraint."
In Nottinghamshire there were picket lines at various council offices and 82 schools were shut as caretakers, teaching assistants, admin staff and midday supervisors walked out. There was a march from the Forest Recreation ground to a rally in the Market Square on the first of the two days.
Previous Feature: Notts Workers Join National Strike
National Feature: Local Government Workers Strike Over Pay
The Wembley 'Tent City' Occupation located on Wembley Park Sports Ground, was opposed to the plans for a privatised Wembley Park Academy school to be built on one of the few remaining green areas accessible to the local community for sports training. The campaign is in keeping with the wave of resistance [more] to new school academies up and down the country. The Wembley Ark Academy is an American and British educational charity sponsored and run by a group of millionaire merchant bankers and currency speculators, led by french/swiss and multimillionaire Arpad Busson. The Ark Academy is estimated to cost around £30 million of public money yet it would be privately run.
The re-establishment of the 'Tent City' started on the 30th of June, following last year's permanent occupation of the site that lasted six months, and which saw tree houses being built. The site was then only vacated when the protestors won a year’s extension on the lease. Wembley teachers and their local supporters argue that after more than two years of campaigning to keep the community sports grounds out of the private sector, they are now not going to give in without a fight, as the building of the planned Wembley Academy is part of Brent council's drive to privatise schools, turning education into a profit making business instead of a basic human right beyond the 'logic' of the market.
On Tuesday 15th July Brent Council representatives sought a court order for the immediate eviction of the site, but by the afternoon around 50 local people had turned up to show support, and the eviction didn't take place. On Wednesday 16th, teachers and local people continued the occupation despite renewed threats of forced eviction and possible arrests. They took permanent positions on the roofs of the building next to the sports grounds, with at least one protestor locking on to the main mast. By then it was generally expected that the final eviction attempt would happen soon and 'by surprise, probably in the early morning, and so they renewed their call for urgent solidarity and for people to go up there and show their support. On the early morning of Friday 18th, the teachers and their supporters' expectations came true when specialised bailiffs turned up at 6.30am and finally removed the last protestor resisting on the roof, who had the support of the crowd that had gathered at the site's gate [Report and Video]
The G8 2008 took place in Hokkaido, Japan, from July 7th to July 9th. As in the past years, people from all over the world protested against this summit and the capitalist system it represents [Pics] both in Japan and in many places around the globe.
On Saturday the 5th of July, the International Day of Action Against the G8, there were protests worldwide against this year's G8 Summit. In Japan, around 5000 people took to the streets in Sapporo despite ongoing police repression [Photos | Videos 1 | 2 | 3 | 4] whilst hundreds of people had previously taken to the streets in Tokyo and Kyoto. International solidarity actions also took place in several cities, including Bilbao, Stuttgart [Video], Dordrecht, Nijmegen, Paris, Singapore, Berlin, Reykjavik and Lisbon.
Closer to home, a picket outside the Japanese embassy in London took place on Friday the 4th, and for Saturday the 5th, and despite previous harassment by the Metropolitan police, a London Fete Against the G8 was called by London No Borders and other groups to demonstrate in solidarity with the protests in Japan, for the Freedom of Movement, and against Fortress Europe. The Day of Action around the UK Borders Agency started with a Critical Mass bike ride from Brixton to Croydon, the nerve centre of the Home Office's UK Border Agency, where several protests unfolded [Report | Photos 1 | 2 | Video]
From Monday 7th to Wednesday 9th, further days of action and blockades continued around the Summit location next to the Lake Toya in Hokkaido [Videos 1 | 2 | 3] A final statement by international activists was issued on Wednesday 9th after hundreds of activists joined a march called by the Hokkaido's Ainu indigenous communities. This was the concluding event of ten days of anti-G8 protests in Japan. The Japanese 'No! G8 Legal Team' issued an international call for further solidarity actions during the week of blockades [Second Call]. In London, a daily NO!G8 cafe was organised at the Bowl Court Social Centre to coincide with the G8 mobilisations, showing daily footage from Japan, screening films, presentations and discussions.
Related Newswire Posts: End G8 Domination! | Challenge to the G8 Governments | G8 summit marked by impotence and division | James Hansen's Appeal to the G8 on Climate Change | No! G8 Japan Info Tour Comes to UK | An update on Japan G8 repression - 40 people arrested! | Repression and Revolt in the run up to G8 Japan | Interview with Japanese anti-G8 activist | Preparation for the Japanese anti-G8 movements in 2008 | Japanese Government to Keep ‘Hooligans’ Away from Summit