UK Newswire Archive
09-10-2010 17:16If the cause was different, you might be tempted to call it a rainbow coalition. Football hooligans, neo-Nazis, gay rights activists, disillusioned BNP supporters who think the nasty party’s gone soft and more besides: protest movements have seen some rum old alliances down the years, but nothing quite like the disparate bunch who gather under the English Defence League banner.
09-10-2010 17:08A report of the last few weeks in Amsterdam in relation to the squatting ban and rising tensions in the city.
09-10-2010 14:20In the early hours of this morning, a small group of Bristol activists
occupied the roof of a Shell garage in solidarity with the people of
Rossport, Ireland. The activists would like them to know that “We salute
you in your struggles! You are not alone!”
09-10-2010 13:22Sickwax / King Tuts Revenge / Room 4 1 More / Hacksaw @ The Winchester Arms, Taunton
BENEFIT GIG FOR BRISTOL & BATH HUNT SABS
THURSDAY 21ST OCT @ THE WINCHESTER ARMS, TAUNTON
SICKWAX ---- Dub fueled Bristolian hip-hop mixed with jazz
KING TUTS REVENGE ---- Bouncy south-west ska punk legends
ROOM 4 1 MORE ---- Fast melodic punk rock from Devon
HACKSAW ----Bristol based 2-piece pop-punk
A share of the door takings will go to Bristol & Bath hunt sabs.
Free & tasty vegan food as per usual!
4.30pm Urban Scrumping competition
Met at the free school with bikes and went to collect some apple :-)
09-10-2010 11:29This week's selection from around the region
[most links removed]
Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance are planning a series of events on the 20 October for the Comprehensive Spending Review. They are also calling for a demonstration and rally in Bristol on Saturday 23 October. They hope this will be supported by unions and other groups from around the south west.
Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance also report that South Gloucester Council discussed a paper in Cabinet on Monday, which more or less goes for the “Suffolk Solution”. The intention is to reduce the council to a contracting agency, get rid of thousands of staff on reduced terms and then cut the wages and conditions of those who remain. They will also be encouraging South Gloucester schools to become academies.
The Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance further claim that North Somerset Council will be going down a similar route to South Gloucester and are planning for up to 40% cuts
On Wednesday Bristol City Council - just two weeks before the Comprehensive Spending Review - announced cuts of around just £22m or 5 per cent of their budget for the year 2011 - 12. This seems like a gross underestimate when government departments are being told to plan for 25 - 40 per cent cuts.
These plans suggest a further 300 job losses on top of an alleged 400 already cut through 'vacancy management'. Other cuts include the scrapping of arts grants to small providers; a 10% cut in voluntary sector grants; cuts in the housing benefit department and a number of disturbing cuts on the frontline of health and community care.
Even Bristol City Council's Labour Group find the Lib Dems cuts unbelievable and think there's lots more to come.
QUALITY OF LIFE
Bristol's Lib Dem council leader Barbara Janke explained her proposed cuts thus: “The council is keen to project the message that efficiency savings can be made without actually affecting the quality of life of people in need.”
Yeah. And they're also keen to project the message that the moon is made of cheese and their chief executive Jan Ormondroyd deserves a £220k a year pay package.
“An example of this,” continues Barbara, “is to scrutinise the care packages to some of most vulnerable people in the community. A total of 90 people in Bristol cost council taxpayers £10m a year with round-the-clock care by qualified staff – around £111,000 each.”
Another example of this is to scrutinise the salaries of some of the most privileged people in the community. A total of eight people at Bristol City Council cost council taxpayers well over £1m a year so they can live in round-the-clock luxury on six-figure salaries - at least £120k plus each.
Communities Secretary Eric pickles has urged council executives on £150,000 plus to take a 5% pay cut and those on over £200,000 to take a 10% cut.
South Gloucestershire's Chief Executive Amanda Deeks earns £186,590 a year. Ormondroyd in Bristol's on £220,457. John Everitt at Bath & North East Somerset Council gets by on £211,626 and North Somerset Council's Graham Turner gets £170,450. Do we need four of them in the age of austerity?
Bristol City Council's cuts announcement on Wednesday seemed to claim they have 400 vacancies being 'managed' at present. However a report prepared by Bristol City Council's Human Resources department in June appears to reveal they had 1531 full-time equivalent vacancies on 30 June 2010 - about 9% of the workforce. So far no clear evidence has emerged to suggest this situation has drastically altered in the last 3 months.
1,531 vacancies is approximately equivalent to £30m in wages a year. Coincidentally the figure the council has touted as needing to be saved through cuts.
The so-called “vacancy management” process is definitely hitting frontline services too. Over 15% of library posts; around 25% of museums posts; about 20% of care posts dealing with the elderly and vulnerable; 30% of play and youth posts; one third of the Youth Offending Team and almost 20% of posts at the council's new 'customer care' call centre at Whitchurch are all listed as vacant in the report.
Departments where there are no vacancies at all include 'Economic and Cultural Development'; 'Education Strategy' and 'Strategy and Performance' - little empires of the deskbound and the well-paid. Meanwhile in the Chief Executive's office, the increased workload created by destroying frontline services has been reflected with an increase in staffing.
A Freedom of Information request to Bristol City Council asking for 'mundane' performance data on their dodgy call centre at Whitchurch is now over one week late.
The man who set up the Bristol's call centre shambles and is personally responsible for withholding this management information, David Trussler, Head of Transformation earning £125k a year, quit yesterday.
A CUCKOO IN THE NEST?
Tactical differences over industrial action - reported last week - between Unison and the GMB in relation to Bristol City Council's new redundancy and pay protection policies appear to be being blown-up in to a damaging row.
At the council's cabinet meeting on 30 September a Unison rep and union negotiator on the council's Joint Employee Relations Board appeared to deliberately single out the GMB for criticism in a formal statement to this meeting of employers.
A few days later, the GMB were attacked again in Unison's weekly 'Stewards Bulletin' published on 4 October. “[Their action] creates a view that the unions are not united,” they thundered, apparently oblivious to any view their bulletin and public statements might be creating. They also branded the GMB “a minority union” before asking Unison members to approach GMB members to "ask them why their union wants to go it alone when we should be working together".
Unison members might be better off asking why their union has chosen this moment to publicly criticise another union who have recently stated their intention to take industrial action. What's their game then?
Unison Bristol Branch is currently involved in two disputes. One over Bristol City Council's efforts to shed 25% of its planners. The other over the introduction of supermarket-style checkouts at libraries. Both disputes are in the council's City Development department.
Nigel Costley, South West regional secretary of the TUC, says of plans to cut public sector pensions, “I think public sector workers are going to be very angry at being asked to pay more to get less.”
“Bristol City Council are currently seeking volunteers across a number of heritage and visitor sites across the city. The council is always on the lookout for people to help out in their venues ...
“Volunteers provide office assistance, help to restore and operate industrial collections, assist in workshops and educational activities or work on archives collections (sic) at the council's Record Office.”
Dick Penny, “the saviour of the Bristol Old Vic” has scarpered without explanation. He resigned last week as the Chair of the Old Vic Theatre Trust in the middle of the worst recession in living memory and less than halfway through the theatre's controversial refurbishment. Perhaps he intends to spend more time at the Watershed - where he's the Director - protecting his £100k city council grant that cuts have left untouched?
£6.7m of investment for road improvements in Bath and North East Somerset (Banes) will be protected from cuts by the Tory administration. The council have already announced 300 redundancies and expect that to be about a tenth of the value of total cuts over the next three to four years.
Two new Bristol Tory MPs were sharing their thoughts on the cuts at their Birmingham conference. Kingswood's Chris Skidmore is blaming “benefit cheats” for an economic crisis created by bankers."For far too long we have seen too many people being able to claim benefits who should not be able to.People tell me about benefits cheats in Kingswood. I'm here to stand up for hardworking people,” he says.
Meanwhile Bristol North West's Charlotte Leslie is cheerleading the scrapping of universal benefits. “It is absolutely right that at a time when there are very serious financial constraints, we should not be paying out taxpayer-funded benefits to millionaires but to those who need them most,” she says.
Plans for a new special school for primary-aged children in Kingswood are being drastically redrawn as a result of cuts. Its £2.5m budget has been reduced by £660,000. Sheila Cook, South Gloucestershire's executive member for children and young people calls the 25% cut “a reality check”.
Residents of flats in Portishead may freeze this winter because work on a £400,000 refurbishment has stopped. The contactors, Connaught, have gone bust. A North Somerset Housing spokesman said it would provide electric heaters to residents.
Wessex Connect, who run buses in South Gloucestershire, are introducing a zone system for fares, Some season ticket charges may increase by up to 150 per cent.
Bristol's Executive Member for Efficiency Mark Wright has published online, for the month of September, any payments made by Bristol City Council above £500. However, he admits the information is difficult to understand and is hoping local bloggers will explain it to him.
Can anyone able to download Wright's information and get it into a normal spreadsheet format please do so and send us a copy? We can only get gobbledegook.
South Gloucestershire Council appear to be rushing through plans to close down care homes. The council wants to replace eight care homes with two new larger facilities by 2013 - 2014. However, relatives of residents in the homes are convinced the council is trying to close the homes now.
The Starfish Trust, a local charity that financially supports organisations working with severely disabled children, is shutting down its operation citing the current economic climate.
Transport Secretary Phillip Hammond will cancel the proposed £1bn electrification project for the London-Swansea Western mainline railway in the next few weeks.
Barbara Janke assures us an absolutely pointless consultation and council vote at Bristol City Council on whether to have an elected mayor “will not cost a great deal of money”. She neglects to tell us how much is not “a great deal” though.
Gloucestershire County Council's consultation with the public about how they might cut £120m from their budget ended on Monday. The consultation involved an online game or “budget simulator” that's too pathetic, pointless and patronising to even bother explaining here.
A new Department for Communities and Local Government draft code to try and control pointless council newspapers such as Bristol's 'Your City' has been introduced. The code also asks councils to check “whether it is appropriate” to seek advice from “economic analysts, public relations experts or other sources of expert advice before embarking on publicity campaigns involving very large expenditure.”
With its town centre retail vacancy rate running at 15%, Bristol is one of only three places in the south, alongside Watford and Reading, in the top 25 worst affected large town centres in the UK. The figures come from the Local Data Company who describe “a gathering storm” in the retail sector.
House sales in the region have slumped. According to the Agency Express Property Activity Index the number of house sales in the south west fell by 13.2% in September compared with 10.1% nationally.
Bedminster based haulage company George Taylor Limited is to close down. Around 30 members of staff will lose their jobs. The Parson Street-based company say, “demand for our quality service has declined in the global recession.”
26 drivers have left First Bus Bristol since July when the company closed their Muller Road Depot. That's around one in seven of their drivers.
Airbus boss, Tom Enders, said during a visit to a new plant in Bangalore that jobs could be moved out of the UK to India in the future. Airbus currently employ around 4,000 people at Filton.
The South West Defence Industries Alliance, which represents the region's defence industry, has sent a letter to Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox expressing concerns over the economic impact of the Comprehensive Spending Review. More than one in ten manufacturing jobs in South Gloucestershire and Bristol are in the defence sector. The Unite union are said to support the Defence Industries Alliance's views.
Telford & Wrekin Council is consulting on a plan to cut the number of its councillors by 25% to save money.
To save money, Surrey County Council is proposing to relinquish control of 53 of their secondary schools and turn them into academies.
Fears of a house price crash grow. Prepare for more quantitative easing to keep those all-important asset prices bubbling ...
The CBI is calling for changes to workers' rights so that it is easier to make mass redundancies and to employ agency staff to cover striking workers.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is warning of growing social unrest because of the long "labour market recession" that could last until 2015. They estimate that 22m new jobs are needed in Europe to return to levels before the banking crisis. There have been protests in the last few weeks in Iceland, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia and Lithuania
Being made redundant? Problems at work? Being cut? Contact BRISTOL IWW - the union most likely to call for armed struggle. firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel: 07506 592180
Got any news about cuts in Bristol, Bath or beyond? Send stories, rants, gossip and informed speculation to Cutz, the brashest and best cuts news in the west: email@example.com
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09-10-2010 10:44EDL also going to Coventry and Nuneaton this afternoon. Counter-demo in Coventry at 3.30pm outside council house (Note -- UAF involvement).
09-10-2010 08:22Wednesday 13th October
7.45pm in the Café at St Stephens Church, off the Centre, Bristol BS1
Shireen Anabtawi, Palestinian from Ramallah and
Daniela Norris, Israeli from Tel Aviv
share their frank correspondence which led to the book ‘Crossing Qalandiya’
PLUS live music which unites two cultures
£4 light refreshments
09-10-2010 03:18The English Defence League is facing a major upheaval after EDL leader Tommy Robinson addressed the EDL members and told them that some members had to go following accusations of theft of money, rumour mongering and other problems. Tommy Robinson has made a short film based on The Muppets called The John Snowy Shaw Show. Granny Doris has also been ejected along with others in EDL.
09-10-2010 02:54Bristol has the biggest homeless population outside London
Bristol Community FM is the community station for Bristol and is there to give everyone in Bristol a voice.
Paul Hazleden from Crisis Centre Ministries in discussion with Ben Ritchie from Bristol Housing Action Movement (BHAM) about squatters rights and the state of homelessness in the city.
There is also a report from 41:00 on policing of the homeless with particular reference to a large scale police eviction that took place on Freemantle Road, Cotham on Thursday 26th August.
Police operation by Inspector Burgess and Sergeant Allen (Bridewell police station?)
For immediate release
‘Students shut down Careers Fair in protest at presence of arms manufacturer BAE systems’
Edinburgh University Students for Justice in Palestine shut down the University’s career fair yesterday(Wednesday 6th October) to protest the presence of BAE systems who are involved in the manufacture and sale
08-10-2010 21:03They propose plans to issue their own exclusive press card for the Saturday 9 Oct EDL Demo
08-10-2010 20:31Mass meeting against closure and jobs cuts Monday 11th October, Kings Hotel, Newport at 12 noon.
08-10-2010 20:09Help needed for torrents for video.squat.net
Welcome to this Week in Palestine, a service of the International Middle East Media Center, www.imemc.org, for October 2nd, to 8th, 2010
Met at the free school with bikes and went to collect some apple :-)