Bristol Citizens | 07.12.2010 09:22
Monday 6 December 2010
Apologies for the delay.
[most links removed]
P R O T E S T
Over 2,000 school children and students joined Wednesday's protests in Bristol. Similar protests occurred across the region. Reports welcome.
MORE BRISTOL PROTESTS
There were further protests in Bristol throughout the week. On Friday, the yellow Tory MP for Clifton, Stephen Williams, was targeted at a surgery at Bristol's Council House. He now says he will be abstaining on the fees vote, which will mean the Tories can pass the proposal with ease. Another student protest took place on Sunday, which was notable for it heavy-handed policing.
DAYX3 - THE BIG ONE?
Thursday December is now the day of the tuition fee vote in Parliament. There will be a BIG protest in London. Get there if you can.
The grass roots anti-tax avoidance protest movement #ukuncut are targeting tax-avoiding Arcadia boss, Philip Green, in their new 'Shut Down Top Shop' high street campaign.
Police have told student protesters in Bristol to talk to them before carrying out any further demonstrations. Avon and Somerset Police saythey wanted to stop the protests causing "disruption and damage". One of Bristol's student organisers, Gus Baker, says it's great they want to talk.
UNIVERSITY OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE
On Wednesday 8 December the University of Gloucestershire will march on a location in Cheltenham. They will be releasing this location using Facebook, Twitter and an email list 24 hours beforehand. This is to prevent a police overreaction like in Glasgow where for 12 protesters they sent 2 squad cars and 8 riot vans.
Schoolchildren and students have been protesting outside Bath Abbey over university tuition fees. More than 100 teenagers turned up armed with banners, placards and David Cameron masks!
Some parents in Bath are talking about having their own demonstrations. Email email@example.com to get in touch. They'll link you up with other parents near you.
Parents are now organising nationally to support their kids' protests.
Freedom Press have published 'A brief history of kettling', explaining the police's demo containment tactic in more detail.
Bristol Class War have produced a useful guide to the protests.
Emerging as the best of the many anti-cuts websites out there is anticuts.org. Check it out for details of the latest events, actions, attitudes and ideas.
Well done to the 200 pupils from Rednock School in Dursley, Gloucestershire who walked out on Wednesday 30 November with other students protesting around the country. Their head teacher David Alexander says, "The actions of a small minority of students was regretable. The concerns around raising tuition fees are legitimate to debate, but the actions of this minority did not help that debate, but distracted from it.”
FOREST OF DEAN
Roadside boards declaring ‘this Forest is not for sale’ have been produced by Hands Off Our Forest. They are available to anyone who can prominently display them.
Students from the Royal Forest of Dean College at Coleford joined the chorus of dissent on Wednesday 24 November, protesting outside the college while some marched to nearby Coleford town centre. Sixth-formers at schools, including Wyedean, joined the students. Thursday was the turn of local librarians to lead a protest against county council cuts outside Coleford’s The Main Place.
DEAN ON FILM
A film about the cuts in Forest of Dean.
DISABLED PEOPLE PROTEST
“The National Day of Protest Against Welfare & Housing Benefit Cuts on 15 December 2010 will be the first of many. This time it will concentrate on Housing Benefit cuts. With this in mind, why not organise a sit in, protest or demonstration in your local Civic Centre, Housing Benefit Office or Town Hall?
E V E N T S
BRISTOL AND DISTRICT ANTI-CUTS ALLIANCE
The next open meeting of the Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance is on Monday 6 December, 7.30pm
at the YHA (Youth Hostel) on Narrow Quay, Bristol. All welcome.
U N I O N S
STORM IN A TEACUP
Unison South West's Senior Regional Officer, Joanne Kaye, sent an email to her local branches late on Wednesday evening branding THE CUTZ “liars”. There appears to be two articles Kaye yhinks are 'lies'. One from 12 November 2010:
Strong rumours are circulating that Bristol's Unison Health Branch, that looks after workers in hospitals, clinics and healthcare in Bristol, have been instructed not to join the Bristol and District Anti-cuts Alliance by the union's regional office.”
Another from 19 December:
Last week's story claiming the country's largest public sector union, Unison had prevented its Bristol Healthcare branch from joining the local Anti-cuts Alliance was inaccurate. The truth is that the salaried bureaucrats of the union's South West Regional Branch office have instructed all their local branches not to affiliate to any Anti-cuts Alliance anywhere.”
THE CUTZ sources for these stories are impeccable and textual evidence exists to back them. We therefore stand by the stories, which are neither 'lies' nor produced by 'liars'.
What's actually happened is that - due to pressure - Unison South West have made a major u-turm on affiliation to the anti-cuts movement in the last week but don't want to admit it. Their new strategy, now that they have had to concede that their branches can affiliate, appears to be to discredit the anti-cuts movement to its members. But they ain't mugs.
For aficiandos of this kind of thing, there's a highly entertaining flame war over all this on Bristol Indymedia where Kaye's staffers are calling the IWW rapists! Last time we looked some Unison official was telling THE CUTZ "I hope the police kick the shit out of you"!
B R I S T O L
Avon Fire and Rescue Service want to spend millions on a helicopter. Fire chiefs say it would be quicker and more efficient for flying in specialists to road crashes. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) say the plan is "a folly" while 48 firefighters face redundancy. Four fire engines and crews would be cut to pay for the helicopter and its £800,000-a-year running costs. Thirteen delegates from the fire service are flying to Munich next month to try out possible aircraft.
While Bristol City Council is now legally required by equalities legislation to carry out an equalities impact assessment on their £70m budget cuts, such a document is yet to appear. When questioned about this the city's yellow Tory cabinet explained, “It has not been published on the web but is available on request and has been sent to the equalities stakeholders.”
Bristol City Council has 'fessed up to spending £420,000 on their doomed World Cup bid. The actual amount is likely to be higher as this sum doesn't incude staff costs, on-costs or the £200k cost of this summer's over budget 'fan park' in Queen Square, touted - at the time - as vital for the World Cup bid.
St Paul’s library is currently closed on a Saturdays due to staff shortages. Bristol City Council claim it will it will be opening again on Saturdays from 8 January 2011 “further to successful recruitment”.
Councils across the West have spent £17 million on CCTV cameras over the past four years, a report from Big Brother Watch says.
Avon & Somerset Probation Service's 600 members of staff currently deal with 4,500-5,000 cases. Unions says that plans to privatise parts of the service will see private companies making money out of 'community payback' work. The union warns this will create a race to the bottom on service quality and terms and conditions for staff.
N O R T H S O M E R S E T
The number of people claiming jobseeker’s allowance for more than a year in North Somerset has more than trebled in three years. Long-term unemployment in the area has risen by more than 300 per since January 2008.
The National Housing Federation says the demand for holiday homes in North Somerset is pricing locals out of the market.
THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC
The North Somerset Music Service, which provides music tuition to thousands of pupils, is waiting to hear how much money it will lose. Its central Government grant is “under review” and the cut will be announced on December 7. North Somerset Council also fund the service and they're looking to save up to £42 million over four years.
61 councillors of North Somerset's councillors have been named in a formal allegation of misconduct, which has cost the taxpayer up to £12 million claims the former councillor Bob Coleman who made the complaint.
Weston Super Mare's Arts Festival has folded due to “ difficulties in securing funds to support the initiative”.
Nailsea town councillors have complained about the ‘poor condition’ of some of the town’s car parks. Councillors say the car parks, which are owned and run by North Somerset, suffer from pot holes, uneven surfaces and are not accessible for disabled people. North Somerset Council say “the car parks are free so they don’t generate any budget for maintenance.”
The Prime Minister's 'Big Society" is now at the heart of Gloucester City Council's policy making. Councillors have voted in favour of Cameron's vision for devolving power to communities after an hour-long debate at its full council meeting last week. Tory Councillor Jennie Dallimore said, "we need Big Society in Gloucester.We have had a nanny state for too long and even here at the city council we have over-delivered to our residents at a huge cost but it is time we stopped delivering and started supporting."
North Somerset Council boss Nigel Ashton says town and village council services will bear the brunt of the £42million savings needed over the next four years. North Somerset has already signed a 10-year £85million deal with Agilisys to run their ICT and payroll in an effort to save £16million. It has also carried out a library review, which has proposed the closure of three libraries.
S O U T H G L O U C E S T E R S H I R E
1,000 street will be switched off in Thornbury to save South Gloucestershire Council money. 1,180 street lights will be turned off between midnight and 5am. The council say it is good for the environment.
Governors at Woodlands Primary School, in Sundridge Park have agreed to make it an academy. It is the first primary school in South Gloucestershire to become an academy.
G L O U C E S T E R S H I R E
A new £8 million hospital in Tewkesbury will not have enough beds. NHS Gloucestershire non-executive director Anne Noble says, "I wonder if we currently have 48 beds, whether 20 will be enough”. The population of Tewkesbury is about 22,000.
Matson Library in Gloucestershire, with a footfall of around 100,000 a year, is up for closure. Liam Kelch of Matson and Robinswood Residents' Group says, “an area like this needs its library most”. Gloucestershire County Council leader Mark Hawthorne says communities now have to play an active role in staffing their own libraries if they want to keep them open.
Forest of Dean MP, Mark Harper has told Cinderford Town Council he will not attend a public meeting to discuss woodland sell-off plans. Harper, who says the sell-off presents an “exciting opportunity” for the community to buy forestry land, was to address a meeting on Friday December 10. An undisclosed prior engagement is preventing the MP from attending the meeting at the Miners’ Welfare Hall, Cinderford at 7.00pm.
MORE FOREST SELL OFF
David Miliband has attacked the ConDem's plans to sell-off Forestry Commission land. He told his Twitter followers, “Stop stealth conservatism - sign the petition at www.38degrees.org.uk to stop weakening of Forestry Commn role in licensing logging.”
Stroud District Council is cutting the number of on-site wardens at their sheltered housing schemes by 38 per cent.
UNLAWFUL LIBRARIES PLAN
Plans to turn eleven libraries into community ventures run by volunteers could be illegal say campaigners. Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries are planning to get 5,000 people to sign a petition opposing the scheme – enough to trigger an automatic council debate.
As part of Gloucestershire County Council’s plans to save £120 million, changes will be made to bus routes, school travel and concessionary fares. The proposals include running fewer evening and Sunday services, bringing fares in line with commercial bus operators and fewer and less frequent journeys.
Free bus travel for the elderly and disabled in Gloucestershire will now include a clause that says the over 60s cannot use their bus passes before 9.30am on weekdays. The use of bus tokens, which allow pensioners to pay for journeys on local and national bus and train services plus some taxis will also be scrapped.
Improvements to Cheltenham's rail link to London are dead in the water. The Department for Transport said the multi-million pound plan to improve Swindon to Kemble line "does not look affordable".
The Green Party has called for a voluntary increase in council tax precepts to protect services threatened by Gloucestershire County Council's £108 million cuts.
S O M E R S E T
PUBLIC SECTOR BOSSES
Somerset County Council has appointed a new corporate director for its children and young people's service and given her a salary of £135,000 per annum. That's £23,000 a year more than its other managers. The council has a £75 million deficit and is looking to make mass redundancies.
Around 3,600 people have signed a petition calling for a recycling centre at Crewkerne to be kept open. A Facebook group - Save Crewkerne Recycling Centre - has more than 200 members and protestors chanted outside the town's Victoria Hall while the recycling centre was discussed inside
C S R
HOW TO SACK COUNCIL STAFF GUIDE
The Daily Mirror has received a 'secret' guide issued by the ConDems to councils on how to implement cuts and fire staff. Employees at Bristol City Council will recognise many of the tactics in there.
Emma Harrison, the millionaire boss of welfare-to-work provider A4E - who get 25 per cent of the government's multi-billion pound budget for getting long term unemployed back to work - said this week, "The coalition government's cuts are, in fact, fantastic!... Cutting benefits will put a stop to people making a profession out of being unemployed."
A4E, 14 Orchard Street, Bristol, BS1 5EH
Councils in west have been told to spend their multi-million-pound reserves to fund cuts. The four council's around Bristol have reserves of $107 million between them.
Farming Futures, which gets farmers to invest in green technology is to be cut.
Art critic Brian Sewell has told council's to sell off their artworks to protect public services threatened by spending cuts. A Museums Association spokesman said a sell-off of art to support public services would be a tragedy.
Council leaders who turn down the opportunity to get millions of pounds worth of extra government grants by giving planning permission to developers will find their annual grants from Whitehall reduced as the ConDems divert the cash to compliant town hall chiefs.
E C O N O M Y
THE LONG GAME
Banks will not lend to first-time buyers at "pre-credit crunch" levels until 2020 according to a research paper by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
A report by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign says half of the affected people in the west cannot cover the cost of their gas and water bills. The charity say that 90 per cent of people do not receive enough money from the benefits system to cover the additional cost of living with a disability. Apart from Cold Weather Payments, which are made when temperatures drop below freezing for seven consecutive days, there is no financial support available for winter fuel for disabled people.
A quarter of farmers are officially living in poverty. A report by Commission for Rural Communities says the poorest are receive little support either from agricultural policies or the welfare state.
20,000 public servants are among the UK's top 1% of highest earners who are paid more than £117,523 a year according to a report for government by economic journalist Will Hutton.
B U S I N E S S
The Unite union have described the so-called 'fair tips system' introduced by the hospitality industry last year as a “total failure”.
The union say, “Workers expected their employers to hear the demands of consumers last year to pass all the money they intended for staff to them, instead many businesses have chosen to continue business as usual and profit from the gratuity charges. The government must now act to implement the review of the ‘Tips Code’ that was committed to in order to hold this industry to account, it has been a total failure.”
It's one year since the government was forced to close the loophole in the minimum wage legislation which allowed bosses to take tips customers left for staff.
A Plymouth manufacturer which was taken over by management last year to safeguard jobs is making 70 workers redundant. Plessey Semiconductors has begun a 30-day consultation over the jobs of more than a third of its workforce.
'Infrastructure services firm', May Gurney's profits have risen by 31 per cent to £11.1 million The firm employs 850 people in the Westcountry.
JJB Sports is in talks with its banks over its future. The retailer expects to breach the terms of its loans next month. It is currently engaged in 'refinancing talks'.
Business confidence in the South West region has fallen according to the lICAEW/Grant Thornton UK Business Confidence Monitor.
S T U F F
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Original article on IMC Bristol: http://bristol.indymedia.org/article/702413