truro

Support the Strikes in Cornwall on June 30th – Rally on Lemon Quay

Hundreds of striking workers and their supporters will be rallying on Lemon Quay in Truro on June 30th to support the thousands of public sector workers in Cornwall who face job losses, a tripling of their pension contributions (with the average public sector pension only £4,000 as it stands) and pay freezes.

Cornwall Anti-Cuts is helping to organise the rally and is linking up the unions, with a meeting last Wednesday successfully bringing together the striking unions.

Up to 750,000 could be on strike on the day and it is vital they are shown support. Striking is a last resort – but hard-working people in the public sector are being made to pay for the financial crisis. Let’s stand up for them on the 30th and fight the Tory-led coaltion.

UK Uncut are organising a national day of action alongside the strikes. This is going to be big – and not one to miss.

There will be more strikes to come in the next few months. Looks like were building for a general strike. A bit later than Greece, admittedly.

 

 

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Cornwall homeless cuts protest ejects from demonstration…homeless people

On Sunday hundreds were set to descend on Truro Cathedral for an anti-cuts protest about the 40% cuts to the Supporting People funding in Cornwall, which provides funding to vulnerable care services. Most of the funding goes towards homelessness support. The demonstration was far different to what many imagined it would be.

You can blame it on the weather, the loss of momentum or the date (it being a bank holiday), but whichever way you spin it the demonstration was a failure. For a start the protest in February saw over 100 sleep outside County Hall for the same reason, despite temperatures dropping to -1. Despite the scale of opposition, councillors just a couple of days later voted through millions of pounds of cuts to these essential services.

This demonstration however, entailed just twenty or less camp outside the Cathedral. Several homeless people were among the protesters. Of course, the demonstration was billed as a show of charitable care towards homeless people, but the behavior of the organisers was inexcusable.

At around midnight the organisers drew people camping in the car park at the back to the front of the cathedral to witness two clearly distressed people, both homeless, apparently ‘lash out’ at the organisers. I had been talking with one of them earlier and she was far from violent, singing protest songs with everyone. But the apparently drunk homeless people had been drawn to attention by the organisers (from the Cathedral) and were being told to leave the shelter of the front of the building and go out into the street. Not your average show of human compassion.

The police were called, despite the protestations of some of the others camping out, and the homeless couple were then told they were ‘spoiling our demonstration’ and ‘being unnecessarily disruptive’. What they were actually doing was demanding the organisers explain why so few were here, why they were being treated like outsiders, why they were being patronised by people who showed only token solidarity with them, before returning to the warmth of their homes.

Eventually the gates of the Cathedral front were closed. The facade was apparently in danger of being scratched by these rowdy two who challenged the middle-class guilt appeasing nature of the demo. Forced into the rain, they left peacefully. As did the organisers, who were reported to have gone home – yes, gone home – instead of sleeping out.

The Cathedral probably has enough space inside to accommodate all the homeless people in Cornwall. But on Sunday, we saw the very people the protest was meant to be in support of snubbed and ejected.

The campaign against such disgusting cuts shouldn’t stop here because of what happened. What it has to learn however is that homeless people do indeed suffer high levels of alcoholism, and understandably so – it’s freezing out there on the streets. It’s the causes of this that we have to tackle as the numbers of homeless increases in Cornwall as a result of these cuts. Otherwise, we are guilty of turning away those we’re supposed to be defending – undermining ourselves and the anti-cuts movement as a whole.

‘Disabled People Against Cuts’ and ‘Cornwall Save our NHS’ to protest in Truro this week

After the effective (and deserved) collapse of the Lib Dems in the local election on the 5th, there’s more good news. Cornwall is hosting two protests over the next week against disability benefit cuts and the coalition’s attacks on the NHS.

Below are the events, which Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance asked me to pass on. Please spread the word about these events – Wednesday’s protest is part of the anti-ATOS week of action, and the vigil/march/picket/street theatre in Truro this Saturday is the first major event from Save Our NHS Cornwall. Two pretty unmissable events in the Cornwall activist timetable!

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Week of Action Against ATOS – Truro Protest, Wednesday 11th

Come and take part in Cornwall Disabled People Against the Cuts’ first event as part of the Week of Action against the ‘poverty pimps’ ‘ATOS’. We are meeting outside Wetherspoons in Lemon Quay, Truro, on Wednesday May 11th, at 10.30am. The protest will then proceed to ATOS in Pydar Street,  with placards and leaflets for a demonstration outside their HQ.

If you cannot do that journey, be in the car park near Pydar House at 11.00am. Then we will go to ATOS in Pydar House for our protest. If we have the energy, we will return to Lemon Quay for more leafleting and petitioning.

Please call Chris Gibson on 01872 560483 for more details, or email Mike Smart at mike.smart13@yahoo.com

What does DPAC stand for?

  • full human rights and dignity for disabled people
  • opposition to government austerity measures which target the poor while leaving the wealthy unscathed
  • we refuse to stay silent against wealthy politicians delivering injustice on ordinary people
  • we refuse to accept they can destroy lives because we are sick or disabled
  • we will not be scapegoats for the financial mistakes of governments

Atos Origin have just begun a £300 million contract by the Government to carry out ‘work capability assessments’ on all of those claiming Incapacity Benefit.

It is claimed assessments are to test what people can do rather than what they can’t. The real purpose is to strip benefits from as many people as possible.

This testing system has already led to people with terminal illnesses and severe medical conditions being declared fit for work and having benefits cut. GP’s are ignored in favour of decisions made by Atos Origin’s computer.

To date around 40% of appeals against Atos Origin’s decisions have been successful.’

Facebook event page here.

Save our NHS Cornwall – Picket, March, Vigil and Street Theatre on May 14th

Our NHS is under threat. Health workers at Treliske face the slashing of their pensions, hundreds of job losses and the Royal Cornwall Health Trust is being forced to ‘save’ £15 million this year. Alongside these local cuts, Lansley’s health reforms will take power from democratic, public hands into those of private consortia.

Because of this people in Cornwall are fighting back. Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance and Save our NHS Cornwall are organising a joint picket of support for staff at Treliske on Saturday May 14th at 12: 30pm, followed by a march into Lemon Quay. This will be followed by a Vigil at 2.00pm – with live street theatre!

Please do all you can to spread the word, and defend our NHS and its workers, and come to these fantastic events on the 14th May.

Facebook event here.

Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance
http://cornwallanticutsalliance.wordpress.com/
On Twitter: @Kernowanticuts

Cornwall Resolves to Move the Anti-Cuts Campaign Forward

Local campaigners, workers and trade unionists came together on the 28th April to hear speakers from different sectors speak out against the cuts, and unanimously resolve  to oppose them as well as resist privatisation in Cornwall.

Around 50 attended the meeting – and it most certainly was not a ‘same-old-faces’ event.

Stuart Fegan, the senior organiser at GMB in Plymouth, came down to talk about the general attacks on working-people, and gave his solidarity from the Anti-Cuts Alliances in Devon (Torbay, Exeter and North Devon). From further afield was Steve Ryan, a PCS group secretary who travelled from Wales to speak about the biggest cuts since the 1930s, and speak about the positive alternatives to public sector axing – clamping down on tax dodging, taxing the rich more, scrapping Trident and withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Education was a key theme as it faces some of the largest cuts in Cornwall. 31 schools have confirmed redundancies for this year, while many are being forced to become Academies over funding fears, taking them out of local authority control.

One particularly uplifting theme was that of support for those who are going on strike over the slashing of pensions and jobs in colleges, schools and universities. The NUT will be striking on June 30th, and other unions are considering strike action; ATL, PCS and the UCU. In total potentially more than 10,000 could strike in Cornwall on that day if the ballots are successful.

I spoke about how Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance was founded, and the anger of students over the Lib Dem betrayal. Further Education faces 25% cuts so is particularly at risk from these cuts. Cornwall is obviously already a deprived area, making the scrapping of EMA, tripling of uni fees, abolition of the Aim Higher scheme and huge rises in transport costs brutal.

Surprisingly, calls for a general strike were welcomed, but the GMB Rep made clear it had to be part of a rolling campaign in order to be successful. March the 26th inspired thousands to take the campaign back to their hometowns.

We’ve seen positive developments over the past few months. A new anti-cuts group has just been founded (Liskeard Against The Cuts leaflet) linked to the main Cornwall-wide group. An NHS action is planned for Truro on the 14th May. The day before will see Camelford’s first UK Uncut action on Nat West. And there’s plenty more on the way from Cornwall ACA, with new unions affiliating all the time. The meeting was a great official start and has brought in fresh momentum.

Here are the resolutions and mission statement passed by the meeting –

RESOLUTION

It is proposed that everyone at this meeting:

  • Condemns the cuts as unnecessary, regressive and unfair

  • Will campaign to protest public services and jobs

  • Urges the government to crack down on tax dodging by the rich and to invest in job creation

  • Calls on the government to stop the privatisation of vital services, including the NHS and the Post Office

MISSION STATEMENT

Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance pledges to oppose and campaign against the cuts in our work places, through our trade unions and in alliance with other trade unions. We support those taking industrial action against the cuts and will offer help and solidarity to those involved. We will seek to build partnerships between community organisations and unions in Cornwall to strengthen our community’s fight against the cuts and loss of public services including the NHS.

Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance will expand its campaigning by building local committees in as many towns as possible to support local resistance and put maximum pressure on Cornwall’s MPs and councillors to oppose government cuts.

We will campaign, march, rally and protest in our communities, in public, and in all places where we can get our message across – that the profiteers and tax dodgers should pay for the crisis they created, not the ordinary people who are being made to suffer.

Cornwall-Wide Demonstration in May Against the Cuts

I haven’t been posting a whole lot recently because I’ve been a bit out of the political loop, busy with college work among other things. So, now that my apology is over, I’ll give you a bit of context about what’s happening.

Anti-Cuts Alliance Cornwall (yep, looking into name rebranding) is planning a demonstration against the cuts in Truro, scheduled for the end of May. It’s not official yet, but I’ll keep you informed. Tomorrow’s general meeting will hopefully lay out the basic details.

During the wave of student protests last year, some of you will know myself and others organised demonstrations in Truro against tuition fees. Two of them organised within a couple of weeks and spread through posters and Facebook got over 100 out in protest. We were on relatively good terms with local police and nothing was mentioned about a levy on public protest. So long as it wasn’t obstructive or violent; it was fine.

Cornwall Anti-Cuts has been talking with the local council and after rumours of a £3,000 fee for utilising Victoria Gardens, apparently the committee have now approved  the request for the demonstration. Now’s the time to start raising funds and support for the protest. After the massive March 26th ‘March for the Alternative’ in London, now’s the time to bring the action home.

Truro hasn’t seen a large protest for a long time, and this one hopes to be supported by trade union branches (Anti-Cuts Alliance Cornwall is backed by Cornwall NUT and CWU) as well as local community groups. There’s a lot of preparation to be done.

If you’re part of a Cornwall based charity, a member of a trade union, a student, a worker, unemployed – if you’re anyone getting hit by the cuts, email canticall@gmx.co.uk and get involved. There’s going to be a Public Meeting – ‘How The Cuts will Hurt You and How to Fight Them!’ organised by Cornwall Anti-Cuts on the 28th April! It will take place at the Hall for Cornwall (Assembly Rooms), on Thursday 28th April at 7.00pm. Everyone’s welcome.

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While we’re talking about demonstrations – a few months ago, just before the 3rd (?) Day of Action against fees and cuts, myself and another fellow student were taken out of class and essentially interrogated by senior admin and two members of police about what we were planning – which was nothing at all, incidentally. Scandal! Well, not quite, but certainly fairly intimidatory and not appropriate for a place of learning (especially while we had studying to do). Legally, the police don’t even need to be informed about demonstrations. But with the police in Devon and Cornwall losing 700 staff – everyone’s being hit, and few are unsympathetic to the anti-cuts movement when they look at the facts.

Cornwall Anti-Cuts to Meet on 23rd Feb

Details for the next meeting of Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance have been arranged and are as follows:

Wednesday 23rd February 2011

Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance general meeting

Truro Railway Club (next to train station)

6:30 – 8:30pm

Directions for the Railway Club: leave by the ticket office and turn left.  Within 20 metres you come to a minor road by the crossing gates. Cross over and the Railway Club is on a small incline. Parking is available.

All are welcome to Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance events and meetings – get involved!

 

MP hypocrisy as homeless support scheme slashed by Cornwall Council

Cornwall Council voted today to put over 1500 already vulnerable people at risk of losing their housing and being thrown out  on to the streets – ignoring the public outrage expressed in Sunday’s large ‘camp out’ demonstration.

The council chose to slash the Supporting People programme while having £127m in reserves – a gigantic proportion of which could be used to save such funding. The very same council are spending £2,000 a day on Sir Banham, a stand-in chairman of the Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Supporting People programme, a key defence against homelessness in the County, provides funding for sheltered housing and other specialised supported housing projects across the country. The government itself has attacked making large cuts to the scheme, and Cornwall’s goes far beyond others; this is no small cut. The Council voted by 65-40 for a 40% reduction in funding for the programme. While nationally the cuts are savage in scale, the council have proved they wish to exceed that pace by ‘front-loading’ – ie. making as early as possible – already front-loaded cuts – to help for those at risk of homelessness.

Protest Camp-Out

The decision was made despite huge public opposition to the cut. Around 80 people camped outside County Hall on Sunday night in opposition to the plans, declaring those affected ‘Homeless, not Worthless’.

Stephen Gilbert MP - demanding MPs support cuts while pretending to oppose cuts?

Disturbingly, Stephen Gilbert MP – a Liberal Democrat and junior whip in the coalition – came to ‘lend his support’, despite himself forcing MPs nationally to support the largest spending cuts since the 1930s. If he was not implementing economic brutality in Westminster the Council would not be making these cuts whatsoever. The sheer insanity of his participation in the protest caused considerable disgust in some quarters.

I was at the demonstration, along with several other students, and it was a true coalition of concerned citizens – Greens, voluntary workers, Labour members, vulnerable people themselves, residents, locals and campaigners. Many stayed in just a sleeping bag on cardboard on the floor – right next to the entrance that councillors pass through to make these detrimental choices. The temperature apparently dropped to -1 in the morning, and few got much sleep – myself included. But this is an everyday reality for many – and the problem is now set to skyrocket. The press were a constant presence and asked many how they felt about the cuts: the responses were unequivocal. Cornwall UNISON backed the protest and regional organiser Stuart Roden came along, saying support ‘services will be severely cut and many will end, totally divesting essential support to the most vulnerable in society.”

Council Opposition

As well the large grassroots opposition, the move to cut SP by 40% is opposed by all Mebyon Kernow and Liberal Democrat councillors, as well as Jude Robinson, the first Labour councillor in the Unitary authority. The couple of Independent rebel votes were not enough to stop the axe-budget passing due to the Tory/Independent council coalition apparently warning councillors they ‘must support our budget’. Several councillors, including Jude Robinson, Alex Folkes, and many town councillors, came (and even camped out) to support the night-long occupation. Former Labour MP Candy Atherton also came to express her solidarity.

Homeless shelters such as Cosgarne could be forced to intensely scale back their support, or even close, because of these cuts, pushing hundreds more on to the streets of Cornwall. Though not officially a huge problem in Cornwall, the attack on funding will exacerbate the number of people without a place to stay – leading to increased burdens on the NHS (homeless people suffer considerably more health problems – both mental and physical) and the police service as people turn to crime to afford necessities.

The Tory/Independent coalition of Cornwall Council – which could just as easily be a 100% Conservative administration – have sold out the electors they claim to represent. But despite the vote passing, the anger will not fade away – indeed, the anger has only just begun.

Links

http://lansonboy.blogspot.com/2011/02/that-sinking-feeling-cornwall-to-cut.html

http://www.unisonsouthwest.org.uk/content/news/unison-backs-sleep-out-protest-in-cornwall.ashx

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cornwall-12445779