UK Social Struggles Feature Archive
On March 8th, Nottingham City Council met to approve the 2010/11 budget. Like many council budgets this included a series of cuts to services, in this case amounting to £18.8 million. Nottingham City Unison called a lunchtime protest outside the Council House to show their opposition. Disabled campaigners blocked the tram to express their anger at the proposals.
Council plans to close Victoria Leisure Centre, which were brought forward to save money, have also faced opposition and their is growing dissent about plans to close libraries in Wilford and Beechdale.
Unison's protest coincided with the first day of a forty-eight hour national strike by members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) over attacks on their redundancy scheme. In Nottingham strikers marched from Castle Meadow to the International Community Centre (ICC) for a rally.
On March 5th 1990, Nottingham City Council, then as now Labour-led, met to set the Poll Tax rate for the city. Protesters burst into the council chamber dressed as Robin Hood. Several councillors were custard pied and the campaigners were arrested by the police. Despite expert evidence that custard pies were not dangerous, the Magistrate failed to see the funny side and two of the campaigners were sent down. This action was part of a wave of protests, disruptions and riots at council meetings across the country which set the scene for the famous riot in Trafalgar Square at the end of March, the day before the tax was to come into force in England and Wales.
To mark the 20th anniversary of this event, Nottingham Radical History Group organised an event to look back on the struggle. This is part of a wider project to make available documents from the time and to record interviews with some of participants in the struggle so that the lessons of the campaign are not lost.
Upcoming event: Wednesday March 31st 3pm Trafalgar Square to commemorate 20th anniversary of Poll Tax Riot. "Open loud hailer, top speakers, Class War, misty-eyed memories, pub afterwards!"
On the newswire: The Poll Tax: twenty years on
Students at Sussex University came into violent conflict with riot cops on Wednesday (3rd) as they occupied the executive nerve centre of their university. Several weeks in the planning by Stop the Cuts campaign, around 80 students rushed the 'fortified' Sussex House building with a supporting demo outside of around 300 people, all in protest against the proposed cuts to university funding. The occupation was part of a national day of action, called against £950m of government cuts to higher education announced on February 1st. There were also actions in Norwich, Leeds and London.Links: Indymedia Coverage:1 |2 |3 | 4
Videos of the protests | Stop the Cuts – Defend Sussex
In the early hours of February 26th, Nottinghamshire County Council voted to endorse a controversial budget which will see jobs cut, care homes sold off to the private sector and the cost of services for the elderly and disabled increased. Campaigners opposed to the plans rallied in Mansfield and outside County Hall to show their anger at the proposals and council workers are currently being balloted for industrial action (but not a strike) against a related attack on terms and conditions.
The county council's programme of cuts comes in a political climate in which all the main political parties have expressed their belief in the need for cuts to public sectors in light of the economic damage wrought by the banking collapse and subsequent bailout. The Labour-run city council are also planning to cut staff as well as closing Victoria Baths along with libraries in Wilford and Beechdale.
Greece has once again been rocked by protests, strikes and civil unrest. This time in response to a series of swinging government cutbacks aimed at bringing the country into line with neo-liberal dogma and reducing it's budget deficit. In response to proposed attacks on worker's rights and pensions, virtually the entire country came out on strike on Wednesday. 30,000 marched through Athens and violently clashed with police. There is widespread anger at the governments attempts to deal with the economic crisis by dipping into the pockets of the poor. Marchers in Athens shouted, "No sacrifices! Make the rich pay for the crisis!”Links:
2008 Greek protests – SchNEWS 659 | 662
Indymedia: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
The state has begun handing down vicious sentences to men accused of participation in the rioting in London that occurred during a protest against the Israeli attacks on Gaza (see SchNEWS 661-662). Ten young men have been jailed for their role in protests demanding an end to Israel’s invasion of Gaza early last year – and more are to follow in the coming weeks.
According to local rag the Evening Post, Nottingham City Council has "Nottingham City Council has banned large-scale graffiti art to take place at youth clubs. Those affected will reportedly be The Arches, Russell Youth Club and St Ann's Adventure Playground. It is not specified in the article what law or procedure has been used to do this.
The alleged ground for this ban is that legal graffiti encourages illegal graffiti or gives an appearance of neglect. This is based on the so-called "broken window theory."
While the ban appears to be restricted to council-run youth clubs, this is not clear and there is some concern that the ban might extend further, possibly to private graffiti displays (like that on the side of OhMyGosh records on Mansfield Road). Even if it's scope is tightly restricted, the removal of a legal space for young people to express themselves has been strongly criticised.
Nottingham grafitti showcase: OhMyGosh Graffiti / Spray Art Session Finished | OhMyGosh Charity Live Graffiti Art Session Street Party: Pix 1 | OhMyGosh Charity Live Graffiti Art Session Street Party: Pix 2 | Spray Art at the ASBO - Pictures | City Arts, Graffiti Art :: Gregory Boulevard, Nottingham | Forest Fields Youth Club: Artwork and Graffiti 1 | Forest Fields Youth Club: Artwork and Graffiti 2 | Graffiti Artists in the Arboretum, Nottingham
On Saturday February 6th, the Save Victoria Baths campaign held a demo in protest at the council's plans to shut Victoria Leisure Centre on April 1st. The event was well attended and attracted a fair amount of media attention. Although the council seems to have made its decision, campaigners believe the fight is far from over. They will hand over a petition against the closure on Monday February 8th.
The campaign has also announced on its website that users of the Victoria Leisure Centre have formally threatened legal action against the council over its sudden announcement that the centre will be closing on April 1st. The legal action asks the council to withdraw the decision and keep the centre open whilst the planning process is undertaken, echoing the appeals of the campaign. London public law firm, Pierce Glynn are acting on behalf of the users, seeking a judicial review, accusing the council of failing to take into account the fact that no planning application has been submitted, that this process will take at least several months, and failing to take into account the impact this will have on users, especially disabled ones.
Early Monday morning bailiffs and police under the auspices of the National Eviction Team (http://ukevict.com) began the long expected eviction of Mainshill Solidarity camp. (See SchNEWS 681 for the beginnings)
At the time of going to press the eviction was still ongoing with the tunnel teams working 24/7 to get at the hold outs underground - 43 arrests have been made so far - the majority charged with aggravated trespass.
Mainshill in South Lanarkshire, is the proposed site of a massive open-cast coal mine. Ten years of local opposition (Mainshill is set to be the fifth such mine in the area) culminated in the protest site. The camp was occupied 7 months ago in solidarity with communities in the Douglas Valley and support has been consistent ever since, with the camp kept well supplied by neighbours - including a full Christmas dinner. The site is owned by Lord Home, who is set to profit from allowing Scottish Coal to dig out 1.7 million tonnes of coal from Mainshill.
Also in SchNEWS 707: GONE TO POTTERIES The English Defence League embark on a racist rampage through Stoke | CALAIS: GIMME SHELTER French police evict a night shelter and destroy the makeshift camp erected by migrants in protest | FESTIVAL CLAMPDOWN: TOKING THE PISS The Police War on Fun continues with the prosecution of a festival owner for allowing cannabis to be smoked on the premises | CRAWLEY: NO BOARDERS A coalition of No Borders activists and local nimbys help derail plans for a new deportation centre in Crawley | ..AND FINALLY.. James Cameron proves once and for all that 9/11 was an inside job
As the rescue effort winds down and the body count piles up, SchNEWS takes a look at why this earthquake hit so many so hard, and how the international aid effort is being subverted by military and corporate power.
As Haiti’s total estimated dead hovers at around 200,000, the earthquake has hit the country so hard that it’s dropped a whole digit off its former population of 10 million. It’s almost a law of world injustice that the poorer the country, the more vague the body count.
Haiti is a unique place. The only nation to be founded by a slave rebellion, its angry population of African slaves managed to defeat the French back in 1791. Renamed as Haiti - the original Arawak name for the island - it was the Cuba of its day- an inspiration to enslaved peoples the world over and a thorn in the side of the imperial regimes.Also in Schnews 706: MOBS AND COPPERS Smash EDO demo runs rampage - again | STOKING THE FIRES English Defence League counter demo on January 23rd | LANARKY IN THE U.K Mainshill site has pre-eviction gathering | GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN Anarcha-feminist gathering at Brighton's Cowley Club
After a long period of silence from the council the Save Victoria Baths campaign have learnt that the authority intend to close Victoria Leisure Centre on 31 March 2010, despite having no approved plans for development and no planning permission to demolish what is already there. The campaign allege that the council intends to relocate staff in February, making it more likely that it will close earlier than then.
Council plans to close Victoria Leisure Centre first emerged in 2008 and generated considerable public opposition. Although campaigners were unable to prevent the closure, they did manage to get the council to promise to keep it open until 2011 and agree to build a (very expensive) new leisure facility on the site. Campaigners are concerned that the council may now go back on both promises leaving the community without a leisure centre.
On the newswire: Council does the dirty on the Save Victoria Bath Campaign | 2008: Victoria Leisure Centre Public Meeting to Oppose Closure | Save Victoria Baths from closure, Demo at the Council House | Council propose to shut Victoria Baths, Sneinton | City Council intends to Close popular leisure facility
According to reports, Nottingham City Council are considering using green space at Stonebridge City Farm in St Ann's for a car park. A consultation of 31 local residents found that just under 50% of them were in favour of a scheme that would use up 10% of the farm's land for a car park. People involved in the farm have set up a petition to protest the move.
Stonebridge City Farm is an urban farm in the heart of St Ann's that has gardens open to the community. The farm actively involves people with disabilities and mental health problems in volunteer roles and grows food that local people can buy. The farm is the result of many years work of committed individuals. According to one supporter, the Council's attitude shows that they are unreliable partners and are not genuinely concerned with environmental issues. "[A]fter the effort has been put in over many years they will think nothing of putting people's work under tarmac."
Nottingham City Council has made the unprecedented step of threatening a critical local blogger via its solicitors. In a letter sent to the author of the Nottingham City Council LOLs (NCCLOLs) blog, solicitor Jon Ludford-Thomas states that the blog "contains personal, derogatory comments regarding a number of [the City Council's] councillors and employees that could cause distress to those individuals." It requests that the author "remove these personal, derogatory comments from ncclols and refrain from posting similar such comments on ncclols or elsewhere on the internet."
The NCCLOLs blog describes itself as a resource for those who "want to know what [their] favourite local council ... gets up to?" and uses minutes of meetings and Freedom of Information requests to scrutinise what goes on in the Council chamber and beyond. In the past it has exposed some of the serious failings of Nottingham City Homes and the Council's housing benefit service.
Andy, author of NCCLOLs, said "It's not quite clear what legal basis NCC has for telling the blog not to write such things."
Newswire: Nottingham City Council Makes Vague Legal at Blogger | 3 Million Quid Spent on Housing Benefit Consultants | Nottingham Loses Out again | Housing Benefit Decision Notices Inadequate and Illegal | Big Underspend on Payments to help Poor Tenants | BNP member on NCH Disabled Person's panel
Going to COP15? Wondering which pair of socks to bring? A space-hopper and a peace flag or a gas-mask and a bag of transit wheel nuts? Ask no longer as SchNEWS brings you our prepare-for-action guide to the week long climate protest in Denmark, a country which professes itself to be a 'key developer of climate solutions'. Let's hope they're right. Read on for yer essential what's-what: border checks, police tactics, and probably most importantly, what will the weather be like?
€43million profit for the 2nd Quarter, €90 for the half year made on the back of 1567 job cuts.