Category Archives: Community

The Return of Barnet Alliance for Public Services: Time to Kick Out Capita!

Last night, one of London’s longest running anti-austerity campaigns reconvened with a packed meeting at Finchley’s Greek Cypriot Centre. At our last trades council meeting on Thursday, we had resolved to get organising the re-elected Tory council as soon as possible, and this was an excellent start.

The initial presentation came from the one and only Mr Reasonable, John Dix, who had a comprehensive report on just how bad the past five years of mismanagement by Capita, the woefully incompetent and self-serving outsourcing giant to which the Conservatives have entrusted almost our entire borough. The Tories claim that the deal saves money, which might even be true if over-billing, contract variation and “special projects” weren’t absolutely rife. Combine this with the Tories failing to make even the most limited council tax rises for many years (even when their associates in other councils were doing so!) and the fact that Capita fees, astonishingly, rise with RPI inflation and there is a multi-million pound shortfall coming in Barnet’s finances. Auditors have expressed severe doubts that the Tories can possibly fill the gap by 2020 or 2021. You can read John’s full report on his blog.

John was followed by fellow campaigning blogger, Roger Titchbourne of the Barnet Eye. Roger issued a call to arms for activists from across the movement and different parties to unite under a simple slogan: Kick Out Capita! This is going to be the new focus for BAPS, and we’ll be starting with a series of musical and cultural events around the borough.

Finally, we were joined by a very special guest and great friend, John McDonnell MP. The shadow chancellor joined us fresh from address the PCS public sector union’s conference, and spoke about how that union was taking its own action to save essential services. He reiterated that the Labour Party has committed to ending privatisation and bringing failing contracts like Capita back in-house where they belong. Research by the University of Greenwich has shown that far from costing money, this approach would pay for itself in a matter of years. Answering question from some of BAPS’ members, John also touched on some other areas:

  • Labour intends to crack-down on the massive tax evasion and money laundering that goes on in London, which is estimated to be of the order of £92 million annually and strongly tied to international crime.
  • Labour has realised that simply dragging voters to the polls when election day comes will not win the next election. There has to be a turn to community activism and the party is appointing community organisers to help make this happen.
  • There has to be a renewed assertion of a right to a commons in Britain – including of land itself – in order to make society more just, and Labour is working with figure like George Monbiot on policy.

The relaunch was an excellent step in the right direction. Now we have to get the message out there and take the fight to Capita. BAPS will now be meeting every Tuesday at 6.30pm in the Cypriot Centre. Why not come along and join the movement against corporate greed to make Barnet a better place to live?

Barnet Alliance for Public Services is back!

To mark the occasion, Barnet Alliance have arranged for Mr Reasonable to provide a short overview on Capita and their relationship with Barnet Council.

Facebook event here.

As an added bonus they have incredibly managed to secure John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, he is speaking at PCS conference earlier that day but has said that he hopes to drop in at some point during the two hour meeting. John along with Jeremy Corbyn have a long association of supporting Barnet Alliance campaigns. Both them still talk about the Barnet Spring march that took place in a blizzard.

Barnet Alliance, will be both organising and supporting local campaigns in Barnet.

If you want to get involved in positive campaigning here in Barnet to help fight to support and save public services then start making plans to attend the weekly Barnet Alliance meetings.

Barnet Alliance meetings will be taking place every Tuesday from 6.30 to 8.30 at the Greek Cypriot Centre, 2 Britannia Rd, London N12 9RU

From Keith Martin: Things to remember in 2018

2018 SEES SEVERAL NOTABLE ANNIVERSARIES. ALL HAVE IN COMMON THE SUCCESS OF DIRECT ACTION IN ACHIEVING JUST RESULTS.

DEEDS NOT WORDS was a most appropriate slogan chosen by the Suffragette movement in and after 1918 to epitomise their campaign for women to get the vote in Great Britain. Their epic and heroic campaign, which included breaking unjust laws, was eventually successful.

The motto has resounded down the years and is and has been as relevant to subsequent activists as it was in 1918. In 1963 the annual CND Easter march from Aldermaston to London inctuded members of the committee of 100, among them Bertrand Russeil who, unafraid and favouring direct action, inspired peace demonstrators by distributing a “spies for Peace” leaflet and leaving the march to expose the secret details and whereabouts of Regional Seats of Government bunkers at a Berkshire RSG. Russell was among those arrested by the police for his beliefs.

On Maunday Thursday 5 April 2O12, coincidentalty also at Easter, Barnet Council without notice closed Friern Barnet library, despite a vigorous local campaign to save it from closure. Five months later on 5 September 2012, a small group of squatters from Camden led by Peter Phoenix walked through an open window, reopened the library and invited the community to join them in restocking its shetves with donated books and reopening the library to the public. After a Crown Court case the squatters were evicted, but the magistrate allowed a stay of execution for Barnet Council to negotiate a lease with the local community to run the library. Six years later in 2018 they continue to perform this function.

Sat 17 Feb – One Day Without Us

Barnet and Haringey More in Common are celebrating the contribution of migrants with a stall on East Finchley High Road and on social media. More info about 1DWU at http://www.1daywithoutus.org/

The purpose is proclaim the message ‘ Proud to be a migrant/Proud to stand with migrants.’  Alternatively, you might choose to bring  messages to the day, depending on your organisational or individual priorities. Celebrating migrants and migration does not preclude protest and there are lots of things to protest against:  The impact of immigration controls on migrant workers; the ‘hostile environment’; the failure to guarantee EU citizens’ rights; restrictions on health care to migrants.  What do you want the country to know about the value that migrants bring to your communities?  What migrant voices and perspectives are being left out of the public debate?   What would you like to highlight and draw attention to?  Why are you proud to be a migrant?  Why are you proud to stand with migrants?

Action Saturday – Barnet Labour

The upcoming local elections in May will be our chance to prove the power of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, taking us one step closer to government. Make sure you’re a part of the journey.

Join us this Saturday in Barnet and campaign alongside Barry Gardiner MP.

Let us know if you can make it so that we can make sure we have enough campaign materials.

Action Saturday – Barnet
Saturday 20 January, 10:00am – 2:00pm
38 Church Lane, London, United Kingdom

RSVP now

Our people powered movement showed its power last summer — taking away the Tories’ majority in the General Election. This year we’re continuing to challenge the Tories in every seat, in every part of the UK.

If you’re new to campaigning — great! This is the perfect opportunity for you to start your journey as a Labour Party campaigner as there will be a full training session beforehand.

Stop and FIX Universal Credit day of action Saturday 02 December 2017 at 08:00-20:00

Nearest meeting to here: Central London at 14.00 in Costa Coffee: Oxford Street and turn left on to Great Portland Street.

This Christmas will be cancelled for thousands of families claiming the new benefit Universal Credit. Despite knowing Universal Credit causes serious problems for claimants, Theresa May’s Tory government is pressing ahead and rolling it out to thousands of people who will have to wait weeks to receive any money.

Claimants are descending into debt, relying on food banks, getting into rent arrears and in many cases getting evicted from their homes because of in- built problems with Universal Credit.

Take action NOW against Universal Credit

On Saturday 2 December 2017 Unite Community will be staging a national day of action against Universal Credit to send a message to the Tory government that they must STOP & FIX Universal Credit before rolling it out and further or thousands of families face a cold a hungry Christmas and the threat of losing their homes.

 

Who gets Universal Credit

Universal Credit replaces five benefits – child tax credit, housing benefit, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance and working tax credit.

Seven million households will be affected, including over one million low paid part-time workers. For the first time ever people in work could face being sanctioned (having their benefits stopped) if they don’t prove to the job centre that they’re searching for better paid work or more hours.

What needs fixing

Unite is calling on the government to:

  • Abandon the long waits for claimants to receive money
  • Allow people to apply for Universal Credit in a jobcentre, not just online
  • Provide people with better help when the system fails them
  • Pay landlords directly to stop people getting into rent arrears and losing their homes
  • End benefit sanctions for in-work and out-of-work claimants
  • Stop payments going to one named member of a household
  • Make work pay – Universal Credit takes 63p in every £1 people earn

Tell us your story

Get in touch and tell us about your Universal Credit stories. Send your stories to Liane.groves@unitetheunion.org

A Report from Stand Up to Racism Conference

Although I only managed to get to the second half of Saturday’s Stand Up to Racism conference due to attending SERTUC in the morning, I did manage to attend a particularly poignant session in the afternoon that was not only important in itself, but that has been demonstrated as exceptional vital by events today. It was held in the afternoon on the Grenfell Fire and social cleansing, with an extremely strong range of speakers.

Activist rapper Lowkey, himself from from Kensington, spoke eloquently on the very long history of working class residents of the area having to campaign for their rights to live there. This, in fact, goes back before it would have been considered part of London, or even particularly urbanised.

Lucy Masoud, of the Chelsea Fire Brigades Union spoke next. She described her colleagues’ experiences of facing the terrible blaze itself (easily the worst actual fire most of them had ever seen, even in long careers). She finished with the fire fighters’ resolve to demonstrate through thorough proof that whatever the proximate cause of the initial blaze, the fundamental cause has been austerity.

We heard from two young survivors, Tomassina Hessel and Bellal El Guenuni, who talked about how young people had come together in the emergency to try to save lives, something that the media has largely ignored about this very ethnically diverse, solidly working class, community. They also told us that most of the survivors of the tower are still not in permanent homes.

The last speaker was Glyn Harris, a campaigning housing worker and author on the subject. He related how racism has always affecting housing policy, with members of ethnic minorities often end up in housing that the least desirable and safe. It is also the least economically secure, as witnessed in the way the sub-prime mortgage scandal that triggered the great economic crash 10 years ago.

The speakers all had there own take, but they were all pointing to the intersection between racism and austerity and the way that the basic, and totally avoidable, failure of authorities in their duties toward the public are represented by the Grenfell tragedy. It is fitting, then, they are all proved completely right by the Conservatives being forced to day to confirm that despite promises, they have no intention of providing fire prevention systems for high-density housing that could prevent future Grenfells. Ultimately, people the Tories do not care about live in that kind of housing, and it for reasons like that they we must do everything we can to get them out of office.

You can get a more full report on the conference here.

Barnet TUC meets with Labour Councillors: A Progressive Future for Barnet

On the 3rd of May 2018, crucial local government elections will be taking place that could finally see the Barnet Conservatives removed from power after fifteen years in which they have been subjected our borough to a decade and a half of extreme anti-public sector and highly experimental policies.

Barnet Trades Council wants trades unionists to engage with our Labour group councillors about what are vision will be for a better Barnet, and how we can wrok together to accomplish it.

Come to the Greek Cypriot Brotherhood, 2 Britania Road, N12 9RU, at 7pm on Thursday the 2nd of November and take part.

November 11: Day of Action in Barnet

After many years of Barnet being one of the Tories’ most rightwing and rapidly anti-public service council administrations, our borough finally has a chance for change. Barnet TUC will be working with our local Labour Party to get a positive message about a more caring, fairer alternative and invites all friends and comrades to join in.

We’ll meet at 10.30am at Mill Hill Broadway railway station, on Saturday 11th of November.

Facebook event here.

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