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Hard Pressed To Avoid ‘Em
As mentioned back in the apparently nigh-oracular Bath Bomb #11, Tesco have finally admitted their schemes for the old Bath Press site on Lower Bristol Road. The five-acre site was bought by Tesco's London-based front group St James’s Investments in 2008, though Tesco always straight-facedly maintained the developers were nothing to do with them. After sniffing round the city for decades, they’ve now finally submitted an application for a superstore in Bath, and spokesman Quentin Webster claims that a series of public consultations are on the cards for later in the year; although they presumably won’t take “fuck off” for an answer.
Various studies spell out supermarket encroachment as bad news for jobs and small retailers, as well as the environment: when large supermarkets are built on the edges of city centres, other grocers lose between 13% and 50% of their trade – yet more shop closures – and, according to the
National Retail Planning Forum in ’98, each new superstore accounts for the loss on average of 276 full-time positions in an area. Meanwhile, whilst the city houses only 80,000 or so, the supermarket plague is due an outbreak soon: Sainsburys, Tesco and a Lidl all in one long row on Lower Bristol, two Sainsbury Expresses in the centre, Sainsbury’s Local on Moorland Road, a Tesco Express on Bathwick Hill and another in Weston, a Morrisons on the London Road and yet another Sainsburys in Odd Down!
The hotly contested Tesco Express at Bathwick Hill quickly closed down neighbouring indie Bathwick Stores, as feared, but only time will tell for the future of the unique, bustling village high street vibe of Moorland Road; hopefully, there’s fight left in them yet.
Put Out For The Night
Another month, another move at the Black Cat, Bath's increasingly itinerant social centre. Attempts to negotiate with the Council to arrange a lease failed early in the month, with Council officials dismissing the proposals out of hand – and throwing in some personal insults to boot – and taking the centre straight to court. The first eviction attempt, on Friday 26th March, was easily seen off by a large public demo outside. The show of support was sufficient that the bailiffs didn't even get out of their car before driving off.
After a weekend of barricading (with help from the recently evicted Tesco occupation in Stoke's Croft) and an excellent celebratory dub night, bailiffs returned in force early on Monday morning. With full police support, a cherry picker and a pair of bolt croppers allegedly costing £450, it took them over two and a half hours to clear the building – their biggest obstacle being a bleary-eyed but determined rooftop occupation by a man in a dressing gown.
Although saddened, the Black Cat Collective suffered no arrests and only minor injuries (sustained when bailiffs removed a vital escape ladder from the roof), and have taken a much-needed week out. They're now back again with a new building at 100 Walcot St, open 12-7pm every day from 12.04.10.
The public reaction has been vocal and strong, with many people criticising the cost of the eviction – an alleged £30,000 – when the Centre had repeatedly offered to pay a small amount of rent. The Collective have vowed to keep up pressure on the Council to provide community-controlled social spaces. If that sounds like something you support, there's a petition online at www.petitionspot.com/petitions/blackcatbath, or drop by the centre to find out how you can help out.
Proper Tea Is Theft?
Ethos Café of Walcot Street is yet another victim of B&NES Property and Legal Services’ stitch-ups, of which the Black Cat also recently fell foul.
In the continuing greed-inspired transformation of Walcot Street from its ‘artisans quarter’ charter origins to Bland Identikit Shopping Strip #43712, the Council have forced out Ethos in the same way as they did the Hat & Feather, Doollallys, Walcot Rec, Crock A Doodle Doo, Speaking Tree, Walcotmart, and indeed, even the much-loved Walcot Nation Day festival. Rent for the petite, indie caff had shot up from £11K to £12K per annum, with strings attached to an inflexible 12-year lease, kicking the charming fair-trade Walcot regular to the streets – even though its higher-turnover neighbours face only £10K each.
Completely lacking in co-operation and accountability as ever, unelected Property Services’ Sarah ‘Iron Lady’ Marshman toed the Council line of refusing to meet their clients even halfway; not only do they “not negotiate with squatters”, they apparently don’t negotiate with what they view as legitimate business, either – unless they’re supermarkets. Never mind the fact they’re refusing to reimburse Ethos for the central heating they installed, or any of a host of other improvements. But then again, they equally mugged the owners of Glasstone Records for the roofing, windows and disabled toilet they had to put in at Riverside Business Park. The phrase ‘robber barons’ comes to mind.
But with B&NES’ apparent going-out-of-business-as-usual plans for Bath’s smaller and less socially-destructive companies, and boarding going up on vacant units up and down London Road, Walcot Street and throughout the rest of the city, we wonder to ourselves: who’s next?
And now, to the disclaimer: As anyone is free to contribute, the opinions expressed in each article are not necessarilly reflective of each contributor. Naturally, any right-wing or corporate bullshit will be binned and spat upon. Needless to say, the opinions of the author of this disclaimer do not necessarilly represent the views of any other contributor.
Maybe Mayday Melee?
Ah, spring. A time of flowers, warmth, swallow migrations and frolicking bunnies. A time to look back and realise the class war is as alive as ever, and the bosses still screw us. Since before the Chicago Haymarket Riot of 1886 when martyred anarchists and workers won the eight-hour cap on the working day, Mayday has long been associated with workplace struggle. And today, with PCS civil servants, Unite/BA cabin crew, UCE uni and college lecturers (plus student support), NASUWT and NUT teaching staff up and down the country on strike or close (be it over low pay, insulting redundancy/pension measures, or education cuts), things are no different. Indeed, conniving management at Network Rail struck below the belt at the RMT and TSSA recently, whining to the High Court about the legitimate strike votes being invalid; it just goes to show that whilst the railway signal workers and maintenance staff want a safe and efficient service, the bosses just want profits - no matter the cost, to workers' rights or even customers' lives.
In light of all this, Bath Trades Council and friends plan a Mayday celebration/awareness-raising day of protest on Saturday May the 1st. Meeting at 12.30 outside the Abbey, the event is still very much in the planning stage, so please get in touch to help make it something powerful: bathactivistnet[at]yahoo.co.uk. Musicians are especially in demand! We may not be dancing round a Beltane maypole, or dancing on the ruins of multinational corporations, but you gotta start somewhere.
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Bordering On Insanity
An agency of crazy white people in the UK pledges to kidnap and deport brown people, unless they either have the one correct piece of paper they require, or they're actually Europeans: in which case it's fine.
The Rajpoot curry house in Argyle Street was raided by these mobsters on the 24th of March, with two people kidnapped and questioned by white nationalists in a building called a 'police station,' even though most things done there are illegal.
Thanks to some cunning investigative journalism, the Bath Bomb can now reveal that the crazies appear to work for an organization called the 'UK Border Agency,' a collective of fanatical statists who think their permission is required in order to enter UK territory.
Although the Agency has not yet produced evidence that it owns the 94,060 square miles of land standing for the British territory, it still behaves as if it was so. Regional crazy white person Jane Farleigh warns in the Chronicle: 'If people choose to flout the law, we will find them and look to remove them from the country.'
Apparently unaware that the British territory is an open-field natural resource and not the Border Agency's private property, Ms Farleigh wants all of you to help her track down people who think liberty is a right, so she can then deport them, and the laws of Nazi Germany be finally obeyed. But in Britain.
You can help that organization of crazies fail by feeding them false information, at 01275 841500.
Beneath The Paving... The Beach?
A bizarre-Bath style crimewave is striking fear deep into the heart of Bathonians, allegedly. As reported in the Chron, a ring of illicit, pseudo-Situationist, pavement-thieves have struck the city, causing rifts in the city’s criminal underworld. With 10m stretches of granite pavement slabs being prised up in Lansdown, Sion Hill, and throughout the city, is nothing sacred? Police, fearful of potential bricks to the skull, are urging residents to report any suspicious workmen activity or delivery trucks capable of shifting heavy loads in the area. Whatever next – elderly women’s grand piano robberies? The taking of liberties? The taking of piss?
Come Shell Or High Water
As a follow-on from the national ‘Fossil Fools Day’ of environmental action against polluting big business, members of Bristol & Bath Rising Tide visited the Shell garage on Muller Road, Eastville, on the morning of Saturday 3rd April, laying temporary pipelines and holding placards. They went there to highlight the repression experienced by communities in Ireland, currently combating Shell’s attempts to build an onshore experimental high pressure pipeline and gas refinery.
The community in Erris, County Mayo, has seen continued harassment and intimidation by the Gardai police and Shell security for over a decade. In February, fisherman Pat O'Donnell was sentenced to seven months for ‘breach of the peace’ and ‘obstructing a Garda’, after his boat was boarded and sunk by masked men. Hysterically, as Shell’s pipe-lying ship 'the Solitaire' operated off the coast, Irish Navy gunboats and Air Force spotter planes joined police and private security to control the 100-strong demo ashore. But the tales of dodgy shit just keep on coming: Shell security staff have been discovered recently in Bolivian terrorist groups, trying to destabilise the region and kick-start civil war.
Construction of the gas refinery has already resulted in the pollution of local drinking water, with untreated waste chemicals like lead, mercury, arsenic and radon being pumped into Broadhaven Bay, despite its 'Special Area of Conservation' status. Yet despite the scale of state repression there, the campaign just won’t pipe down, having already set the pipeline’s completion date back from 2003 to 2013.
Bath Hunt Saboteurs meetings, 2nd and 4th Monday of the month, 8pm, The Bell, Walcot Street
Debt advice drop-in, Tuesdays, 4-7pm, Black Cat Centre, http://www.blackcatcentre.blogspot.com
London Road Food Co-op, Wednesdays, 4-7pm, Riverside Community Centre, London Road
The Lost Plot workday, Thursdays, 10am-dusk, Bathampton
Bath Stop The War Coalition vigil, Saturdays, 11.30am-12.30, Bath Abbey Courtyard
Recycle Your Sundays, Sundays, 10.30am, starts Abbey Churchyard, the regular series of sociable, easy-paced cycle rides, http://www.bathrys.org.uk/ tel Hazel 01225 469199
Black Cat Centre general meeting, Sundays, 1-3pm, Black Cat Centre, http://www.blackcatcentre.blogspot.com
'Fortnight of Shame': two weeks of action against BP's investment in tar sands extraction, now to15th April, contact bristol[at]risingtide.org.uk FFI
Horse Racing Awareness week demo, Friday 9th April, Westgate Street, contact bathanimalaction[at]yahoo.co.uk FFI
Bristol Industrial Workers of the World meeting, Friday 9th April, starts 7pm (8.30-10pm open to non-members), GWRSA, outside Bristol Temple Meads train station, e-mail bristoliww[at]riseup.net FFI
Bristol Eco-Village public meeting, Friday 9th April, 7.30pm, Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, Bristol
Bath FreeShop, Saturday 10th April, 12-3pm, outside Pump Rooms, Stall Street
Broadlands Orchardshare Volunteering Day, Saturday 10th April, 12-4pm, Broadlands Orchard, Box Road, Bathford, http://www.bathford.net/broadlands.php
talk: 'The Chartists and Their Legacy', Saturday 10th April, 2pm, New Room (Wesley Chapel), 36 The Horsefair, Bristol, BS1 3JE
'Defend our Public Services' march and rally, Saturday 10th April, London, tickets for coach available, http://www.10410demo.co.uk
Bath Animal Action meeting, Monday 12th April, 8-9pm, The Bell, Walcot Street
talk: (Steve) Mills & (Ian) Bone, Monday 12th April, 7.30pm, The Stag & Hounds, 74 Old Market Street, Bristol
AstraZeneca anti-vivisection demo, Tuesday 13th April, 3.30-6pm, AstraZeneca Avlon Works, Severn Road, Hallen, Bristol, BS10 7ZE; if you need transport or further info, e-mail barc[at]hotmail.co.uk
skillshare: 'Freeskilling - Conscious Communication (Non-violent Communication)', Tuesday 13th April, 7pm, Better Food Co. Cafe, St Werburghs, Bristol
talk: 'Thomas Spence - the Forgotten Revolutionary', Wednesday 14th April, 7.30pm, The Scout Hut (Benjamin Perry Boat House), Redcliffe Wharf, Bristol
Bath Green Drinks, Wednesday 14th April, 8.30pm, the Rising Sun, Grove Street
Radical Debate Club: 'Migrants and Borders', Thursday 15th April, 7pm, Black Cat Centre, Walcot Street
benefit gig against homelessness in Taunton, Thursday 15th April, 7-11pm, the Roadhouse, Taunton, free, feat Clayton Blizzard, 51st State, Rat Bandits and Two Minute Hour; http://www.anonpromo.co.uk
talk: 'Vote, Protest And Riot', Thursday 15th April, 7.30pm, GWRSA, outside Bristol Temple Meads train station
course; 'Design & Build a Compost Loo', Friday 16th to Sunday 18th April and Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th April, Monkton Wyld Court, nr Charmouth, Bridport, Dorset, DT6 6DQ, phone 01297 560342 or e-mail info[at]monktonwyldcourt.org
Bristol Eco-Village BIG SWOOP!, Saturday 17th April, location tbc, e-mail bitsofwood[at]riseup.net to get involved
Update and discussion on the planning process, Sunday 18th April, 11-3.30pm, £5 adavanced booking essential by 5th April, e-mail afrelmira[at]googlemail.com
Bristol Convention of the Left planning meeting, Monday 19th April, 6.30-8.30pm, Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, Bristol
Green Light lectures: 'Energy Futures and Global Cooling', Monday 19th April, doors open 7pm, BRLSI, 16-18 Queen Square, £3 entry/£1.50 concessions
talk: 'Votes for Ladies: The Suffragette Movement 1903-1914', Monday 19th April, 7.00pm, Hamilton House, 80 Stokes Croft, Bristol
'An Agenda for Humanity: Peace, Justice and Environment' meeting with election candidates in Bath, Wednesday 21st April, 7.30pm, Friends Meeting House, York Street, e-mail postmaster[at]bathstopwar.org.uk FFI
talk: 'Every Cook Can Govern: From Athens To Westminster?', Wednesday 21st April, 7.30pm, CWRSA, outside Bristol Temple Meads train station
'Get Your Sticker On' Plane Stupid subvertise challenge, Thursday 22nd to Friday 23rd April, location tbc, e-mail info[at]planestupid.com
gig: 'The Liberty Tree', Friday 23rd April, 7.30pm, The Thunderbolt, The Olde Turnpike,124 Bath Road, Totterdown, BS4 3ED, £7 door, feat Leon Rosselson and Robb Johnson
Camp Against Nuclear New Build, Friday 23rd to Monday 26th April, Sizewell, Suffolk, http://stopnuclearpoweruk.net
'STOP The Cuts' community day and march, Saturday 24th April, 12 noon start, meet at Barton Hill Settlement or Beacon Centre, Bristol
Bristol Radical History Walk, Saturday 24th April, start 7.30pm, Central Ferry Landing, next to the waterfall in-between Anchor Road and Broad Quay, Bristol
World Day for Lab Animals march in London, Saturday 24th April, coach 8.30am, leaving Bristol Temple Meads train station, £10 ticket
Mock Election bonfire night and music, Sunday 25th April, 7.30pm, Boiling Wells Project, St. Werburghs City Farm, Boiling Wells Lane, St.
Werburghs, Bristol, BS2 9YJ; feat The Blue Sequoias, Who’s Afear’d and the Surfin’ Turnips; bring and burn an effigy of your most despised public figure!
Bath Socialist Forum, Monday 26th April, 8pm, upstairs at St James Wine Vaults
Kennet and Avon Users Forum, Thursday 29th April, 7pm, Kennet and Avon Canal Trust, Canal Centre, Devizes Wharf, Couch Lane, Devizes, SN10 1EB
Mayday demo, Saturday 1s May, 12.30 outside Bath Abbey
Bath Activist Network meeting, Thursday 6th May, 7.30-9pm, downstairs at The Hobgoblin, St James Parade, http://www.bathactivistnetwork.blogspot.com
Introductory Permaculture Weekend, Saturday 8th to Sunday 9th May, £50, for bookings e-mail afrelmira[at]googlemail.com
Bristol Eco Veggie Fayre, Saturday 29th to Sunday 30th May, the Ampitheatre, Waterfront Square, Bristol Harbourside, http://bristol.ecoveggiefayre.co.uk/
'Adapting to Climate Change' week, 7th-11th June, see http://www.oursouthwest.com/climate FFI
Earth First! Summer Gathering, Wednesday 4th to Monday 9th August, Derbyshire, £20-30; five days of workshops, skill sharing and planning action, plus low-impact living without leaders; e-mail summergathering[at]earthfirst.org.uk FFI
Sheikh, Rattle And Roll
In solidarity with the Palestinian neighbourhood Sheikh Jarrah, currently being bulldozed and facing other repression, actions took place up and down the country on the 17th March; and Bath was no different. From 12 til 2.30pm, a typically-Bathonian size demo (six people!) took place outside Barclays Bank on Milsom Street. With Barclays being the UK's largest investor in the arms trade, with holdings of over £7.3bn, they are also manufacturers of cluster bombs and depleted uranium munitions, and invest in murderous outfits like Thales and Raytheon, who arm the Israeli Defence Force. To go on, they also provide ‘market-maker’ services to everyone’s favourite ITT/EDO, home of the 'Paveway' missile laser-guidance system that has so devastated Palestine and Iraq. On the day, concerned folks from Bath Activist Network and others distributed leaflets, with two scaling a ladder to the lower roof to unveil a banner claiming 'Barclays: Global Dealers in Death', in the face of burly but confused security guards. Most of the passing public received the demo well, with only a couple of idiots advocating war as a way of solving arguments and as being vital for human evolution.
Bath Bomb Dictionary Corner: market-maker (n) a corporate middle-man, purchasing shares from a seller and holding them until such a time as a buyer becomes available
Bath Activist Network are a local umbrella group campaigning on issues as diverse as development, environmentalism, anti-war, animal rights, workers' rights and more. Helping to produce the Bath Bomb, we are open to anyone, and our members range from trade unionists to anarchists, liberals and greens, and people who just want to change Bath for the better. For details on meetings, demos, or just to get in touch, email bathactivistnet[at]yahoo.co.uk or see our website: www.bathactivistnetwork.blogspot.com
Theory Corner: On Lawful Rebellion And Resistance
There's been a lot of talk recently about producing a claim of right and declaring our independence as individuals, which we can do under article 61 of the Magna Carta. This is an approach to resistance that was chosen, among others, by market anarchist Mike Gogulski, who, after having fled from fascist America, decided to send a form of citizenship renunciation. Other renunciants include members of the nationalist UK Independence Party.
While escaping the state's grasping hands is certainly legitimate, anarcho-syndicalist Michael Bindner has argued that this was far from enough in the long term. One is free, an entire class remains in subjection. Also at issue is the ability of a person to renounce citizenship. Hence whether article 61 is meaningful, for instance, for the poor who actually need benefits to survive?
This author is also annoyed at the positivism of the whole affair. That is, one is allowed to be left alone, not because he has a right to, but because it was written down centuries ago. What if it hadn't been included in the Magna Carta? Too bad, let's go get tea now?
Lawful rebellion is a good tool if you already are a mostly independent individual, like capitalist Gogulski above; but it is not founded in law because governing without consent is not lawful anyway. Therefore, the process is here stood on its head: whereas your consent should be required before you get citizenship, you have to go to the length of renouncing it. Since living under the government was never validated by any process where refusal was possible and meaningful, it follows that no one is truly a citizen, yet.
Therefore, renouncing citizenship is a recognition that one was actually a citizen – I'm a hostage; also, that the Magna Carta creates our rights – my rights are natural and do not depend on an old piece of paper; finally, that the government respects our rights – when what it does is writing down what we will have and what we won't.
For those reasons, I find lawful rebellion disturbing to say the least, and enjoin everyone to build up free communities instead; the very act of which will make an actual citizen out of you, rather than a hostage passively paying bills and inserting a piece of paper in a box every few years.
Lappersfort Gets Evicted - Who Threw The First Bank Note?
On the 4th of March, the Belgian authorities evicted the occupiers of the Lappersfort forest, in the name of the property rights of Fabricom, the 'owner' of that forest. The forest has been occupied since 2001. It was a stronghold of activist resistance, and a wonder for all those who cherish nature and self-sufficiency.
Beyond the pain and the rage, I would be interested to know who Fabricom 'bought' the forest from? And how was it 'their' forest? How do you even sell a forest? How do you own it? I wish we were back in the day when common sense had a chance in this world.
Today, in the case of the Black Cat, we see the same folly in the form of the publicly-owned Newark Works. I believe you will find this phrasing is incorrect. The public stands in the same relation to this building as Fabricom did to the Lappersfort forest: they are outsiders. They have never touched the Works and they probably never will, not in the collective fashion that is entailed by the word 'public'. Use and homesteading being the basis of ownership in land, it follows occupiers and squatters were more the owners than their remote (but wealthy) opponents.
It is also wrong to assume that the public chose to buy this building; the Council did. A minority of individuals pretending to represent the public, against the very plain fact that an individual is a world unto themself, and therefore unable to be fully and accurately represented by anyone.
How did the Council get their hands on the two and half million pounds for the purchase? Well, they seem to have a system in place whereby they simply state the amount of money they need, and take it, without leaving the taxpayers free to refuse, with only vague promises of change every few years.
This act of theft obviously cannot be considered legitimate; therefore, the Council does not own the money that was used to acquire the Newark Works, even on the flawed representative system terms. So let's give a toast to the wealthy thieves who believe throwing bank notes at people gives them a title in land.
And Now A Word From Our Sponsors...
Anti-aviation campaigning group Plane Stupid have issued a ‘Get Your Sticker On!’ 48-hour subvertising competition to take place in towns up and
down the land from Thursday the 22nd to Friday 23rd of April. As currently contested over the proposed expansion of Bristol Airport, the industry loves to pretend that they are just responding to the public's desires by offering ever more flights, ever more noise and ever more emissions. But, like tobacco advertising, flying promotion needs to become a thing of the past. Until then, let's subvertise! For the beginners amongst you, you can download designs from Plane Stupid's Flickr site to stick over existing adverts – or of course DIYourself. They then advise to take some pics, set up a temporary anonymous address at an internet cafe, and e-mail your handiwork to info[at]planestupid.com. The group who stickers the most images in 48 hours wins prizes! And words from the wise: “Use your head, and remember to dress well for the occasion – caps and scarfs are just the thing for subvertising season. Some officers of the law may be convinced that subvertising is borderline illegal, so take a friend as lookout, keep an eye open for CCTV and don't get caught.”