Birmingham Police intimidation of Muslim activists ahead of Moazzam Begg demonstration.

Moazzam Begg sign made by the protest organisers.
Moazzam Begg sign made by the protest organisers.

Ahead of a demonstration in solidarity with the arrested Moazzam Begg which hundreds are predicted to attend tomorrow. West Midland police have been visiting Mosques attempting to discourage Muslims from attending the protest. The protest is called by CAGE (an independent advocacy organisation working to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror) Birmingham Trades Council, Stop the War Coalition and is supported by Moazzam Begg’s family.

Naeem Malik one of the protests organisers said “I know West Midlands Police is attempting tonight to persuade various community and mosque leaders in Birmingham to dissuade Muslims from attending the protest. This is a very serious infringement of our democratic rights and an unacceptable use of our places of worship for political purposes.”

“These Police forces would not dare visit Church leaders to try and persuade their congregation from attending demonstrations. Yet they think Mosques can be threatened in this manner to dissuade their congregation from exercising their right to protest against injustice.”

“It is imperative that as many of us turn up on Saturday outside Lloyds House in solidarity with those arrested under anti-terror laws.”

The demonstration is in support of Moazzam Begg a former Guantanamo Bay detainee. Since his detention he he has been a prominent campaigner for due process & human rights.

The police state the arrest is due to Syria related terrorism although Mozzam’s supporters state he has been involved humanitarian aid to the victims of the Syrian crisis and the police are trying to criminalise all travel to Syria. Begg has already suffered over three years of torture and abuse by the US government with the support of the of the British security services – without any trial or any guilt established. Now it seems he going to put through more suffering for his advocacy work since his release from Guantanamo.

The protest organisers want to make a broader point about the abuse of the anti terror laws Naeem Malik said “Over 70,000 individuals have been stopped under Section 7 of the Anti-Terror laws.This has to stop. We were able to bring down the spy cameras around our communicabilities and the West Midlands Police was forced to apologize to our communities publicly. We must ensure these arrests of our communities are stopped.”

The protest will start at Midday tomorrow outside West-midland Police Headquarters at Lloyd House in the city center.

Repeal Tory health reforms – call from Birmingham NHS conference

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The imperative of an incoming Labour Government must be the repeal the NHS and Social Care Act 2012 was a demand repeated by participants at the ‘NHS in crisis’ conference organised by Birmingham Trade Union Council on 22nd February.

The outcome of the 2015 General election was taken up by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, Shadow Health spokesperson in the House of Lords, who warned that in the event of a Conservative victory the NHS would be disassembled.

Hunt addressed the impacts of the wholesale fragmentation of the NHS following the implementation of the Lansley reforms. There was a loss of strategic co-ordination of health resources across the West Midlands region following the abolition of the Regional Strategic Health Authority and its replacement by 5 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s).

Hunt described CCG’s as a membership clubs of GP’s, they are not truly ‘public’ nor fully accountable bodies.

The process of marketisation was also leading to the fragmentation of health provision. NHS provider trusts were being forced to competitively tender for contracts against each other as well as private health providers. Hunt drew attention to the costs of preparing tenders for NHS health trusts seeking contracts, tens of thousands of pounds could be spent on tenders that were lost were a bid unsuccessful.

He provided a local example Birmingham City Council, now responsible for managing Public health (NHS) money,  which had recently commenced a procurement for sexual health services in the city.

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John Lister of London Health Emergency (pictured speaking above) took up these themes of the huge administrative costs of the health reforms, the new system was hugely inefficient with the effect of taking money away from patient care.

Where once there were 150 Strategic health authorities there were now 211 CCG’s across the country, with no strategic mechanism or requirement to co-operate. Massive costs will be incurred by CCG’s of administering tendering and drawing up and managing contracts with health providers.

Lister identified the huge resource pressures on the NHS as a result of Government policy where the current spending limit on the NHS set by Osborne will lead to £30bn deficit for the health service by 2021. A massive spending gap was opening equivalent to a 9% per head reduction in NHS spend by 2018.

This funding crisis would require whole base areas of NHS provider services to close, but this was part of a calculated political strategy by the Tories to destabilise the NHS and to ultimately create opportunities to open the health service to further privatisation and opportunities for private sector providers.

Lister spelt out clearly that private health providers have no interest in meeting the health needs of a whole population but rather they want to be provided with opportunities to cherry pick high value predictable procedures which ensure profits. This is the policy of the Con_Dem Government.

Terry Mandrell of Solihull Keep our NHS public, warned that US health providers were waiting to enter the UK health ‘market’.

Mandrell spoke of the importance of local campaigning in support of the NHS and of the need to communicate and engage with young people on health issues. We need to be organised to face the CCG’s, to attend their meetings, to challenge their decisions and where necessary to harry them.

Following the conference Birmingham TUC is calling a meeting to set up for those wanting to campaign on health issues in Birmingham. The meeting will take place this coming Wednesday 5th March at 7.30pm at The Wellington on Bennetts Hill in Birmingham city centre.

BRISTOL’S TIGHT MAYOR: ‘NO MORE MOOR FEES FOR ME’ SAYS FERGO!

When Plimsoll Bridge on Cumberland Basin got stuck open in December, Mayor Fergo claimed that it would “MILLIONS” TO FIX –  and made ominous sounds about the need to lay off yet more workers to offset the bill.

As ever, the privately-educated berk was way off-beam in his predictions – thanks to the graft of the very workers he wants to ‘streamline’ into redundancy, the actual cost of repairs is now thought to be closer to £5-10,000.

Of course, whilst the millionaire Mayor is always keen to pay lip service to Bristol’s ‘maritime heritage’, and has made a pretty penny or two out of his business involvements in various COUNCIL-SUBSIDISED ferry companies, Fergo is a little less hands-on with the nitty-gritty.

That might explain why Fat Fingered Fergo is demanding a rise in mooring fees for boats in the docks – but the MISERLY MAYOR HASN’T COUGHED UP for the full licence for his own boat!

Pay your dues, George – or one day you’ll find your floating crib has been scuttled by disgruntled scurvy seadogs…

MARKETS: TONY HARVEY’S OLD BOSS GAVE THE GREEN LIGHT TO EXPOSE HIM IN THE PRESS!!!

**** ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER EMAIL COMES TO LIGHT ABOUT THE COUNCIL’S DERANGED MANAGEMENT OF THE MARKET SERVICE SCANDAL ****

**** UNACCOUNTABLE ‘TAX EFFICIENT’ CONSULTANT ON SIX FIGURE SALARY DROPS HARVEY IN IT AND BRAVELY RUNS AWAY! ****

Web Exclusive On 6 December 2012, Tony Harvey’s then boss, Mike “Tax efficient” Watts responded to a query from a  markets service whistleblower.

The whistlebloThe Markets Filewer was concerned that the recently published audit report into markets, which left every one of their complaints “UNRESOLVED” after six months of supposed investigation, was being ignored and buried by Watts, a highly paid consultant Service Director, and his useful idiot, Harvey who he had designated as his hatchet man.

Watts – or Capability and Performance Improvement Ltd as perhaps he should be known – was pointedly and directly asked about the whistleblower taking their complaints outside of the city council. Watts’ brusque reply was, “you are fully entitled to take up with any other authority you see fit and have been all along.”

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The tax efficient civil servant – “I don’t have to give a toss. Thanks for the cash and goodbye.”

So did Watts consider that the whistleblower might see the press as fit? And did this supposed human resources expert think through the potential implications of this for the staff he was responsible for and who would be in the direct line of fire?

But why would he give a toss? The greedy private sector consultant – who was not even an employee of Bristol City Council and who was paid by us council tax payers through a limited company to reduce his income tax bill – was off to take up another lucrative and unaccountable post waffling about HR for Southampton City Council!

So he wasn’t going to be around to pick up the pieces from his crap, macho man decisions was he? Talk about dropping other people in it …

Selly Oak faces budget apocalypse

Selly Oak faces brutal cuts - it is families and children who are taking the brunt.
Selly Oak faces brutal cuts – it is families and children who are taking the brunt.

By Bob Whitehead

There were plenty of supporters of the Tiverton Road Pool and the Coronation Road Play Centre at the recent Selly Oak Ward committee. They came to press the case for saving these much-used and much-loved public services.

When the meeting eventually reached budget cuts, the figures revealed were shocking. Out of a budget of just over £2 million, they will be cutting £0.7 million in 2014/15 and nearly one million by 2015/16. So, nearly half of the money for Selly Oak services will be cut if the budget passes through the City Council meeting on March 4th.

Children’s play services face a £80,000 cut, Youth Services £60,000, the local Neighbourhood Advice and Information Service gets £20,000 lopped off and there is much more. Sport and Leisure funding is dealt with separately from the District budget, although they do manage these local services. And here the news was that the pool has an extension on its life for two years, but after that it will be closed.

The news on the Coronation Road building was that a Community Asset Transfer was being looked into, but the Play Centre itself is still at risk, as is the 641 Youth Centre.

A petition of 1300 names was handed in to maintain the Play Centre and the 641 Youth house by the Selly Oak Community Action Group, collected in only one week. They will not be accepting the loss of this vital resource quietly.
The supporters of the pool were clearly not satisfied with the alternative on offer either. The new university pool, set to be ready in two or three years’ time, was not seen as a community pool, despite the hype.
Imagine if any of the local Councillors or mainstream parties had gone to the polls promising these cuts in their election manifestos? How many would have gotten elected?

It is no good the LibDems blaming Labour; it was their government that imposed this drastic austerity on Birmingham, which has now been devolved from the Council to the smaller Wards. It is no good Labour blaming the Coalition Government if they do not have a pledge to reverse these nightmare policies if elected. When this point was put to the Labour Councillors the reply was that the Coalition’s cuts were very unfairly skewed towards the urban areas and away from the more prosperous ones. True enough, but a ‘more equitable’ austerity policy under a future Labour government is not much good to those suffering now.

Either you choose to implement austerity or to fight it. Labour has chosen the former without so much as a rally or demonstration in Birmingham to oppose the government’s plans. The fine words, excuses and hand-wringing of the Selly Oak Labour Councillors are no good to the youth, parents, swimmers and general community in this part of the city.

No doubt these Councillors intend to vote for the overall budget in the Council Chamber on March 4th. Would that we had local Councillors who were made of sterner stuff.
Communities against meets every fortnight in the cotteridge church center – find them online http://communitiesagainstthecuts.com/

Tree Works: UPDATE

During the meeting between City South Manchester and TARA last Friday, it was agreed that representatives of TARA and any interested residents would meet with Nick Moulding, the surveyor who is now responsible for overseeing the tree works on the estate, to do a walk through of the revised plans. This took place on Wednesday this week, and was attended by a number of residents, as well as Gemma Angel on behalf of TARA.

A number of discrepancies between the revised map and the list of planned works Mr. Moulding had received were identified, and an updated map has been re-issued (see below). 809 at the end of Rockdove Avenue is no longer marked for felling, and 759 at the Hulme St. end of Hunmanby Avenue will now be crowned. This map has been simplified to include only those trees with scheduled works.

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Several residents in Zone 1 and Zone 2 of Letsby Avenue have also been in touch with TARA since the consultation, and feedback on the proposed fellings around the estate remains ongoing. Some of these more recent comments have also been taken into account in Mr. Moulding’s new map, including:

Zone 1

710 & 711– The proposed felling of these two small Hawthorns has been contested by 5 residents in this area, forming a majority opinion at this time. These trees will therefore not now be felled.

713– Some residents suggested that this tree should be felled, as it is crowded by 712 and 714, and that this would open up the canopy further to allow in more light. This was considered preferable to felling 749.

752– CSM has made the decision to remove this Elder bush on the grounds that it is growing through the fence and causing damage to property. CSM’s decision in this case overrides previous decisions.

751– Now scheduled for crown lift and thinning rather than crown reduction, to avoid damaging an active squirrel drey in the top of the tree.

Zone 2

747 & 746 – Several residents immediately affected by these two trees have requested that they be felled. As these are large trees, more time will be allowed for other residents in the area to comment on this proposal before any felling goes ahead.

Zone 3

It was noted during the walk-through that 734 has already been crowned in recent years. However, 727 has a number of long branches very close to the upper floor windows. Consequently the status of these two trees has been altered. 727 will now be crowned, and 734 is now marked for no works.

If any residents have further comments or questions about the tree works, please contact Gemma Angel on gemmellibean@gmail.com, copying in Nick.Moulding@citysouthmanchester.co.uk and tara@redbricks.org.

27th February 2014

Guest:
Andy Carrington

Playlist:
Acker Bilk -Smile Sam Smile
The Ex -How Thick You Think
Angelic Upstarts -Don’t Get Old In Tony’s Britain
Andy Carrington -Facts For The Immigation Expert (Live In The Studio)
You People Are To Blame and I Hate You All (Live In The Studio)
Exiles -From Nowhere To Nowhere
Old Coyote Club -Build Bombs
Andy Carrington -For Mensi (Live In The Studio)
Andy Carrington -Men Being Men; People Being People (Live In The Studio)
Accidente -Policia No
Crashed Out -Global Resistance to Global Capitalism
Police B -Brought To Our Knees
Sin Dios -Alerta Antifascista
Andy Carrington -Muzzie Takeover (Live In The Studio)
Andy Carrington -No Place For A Land Dweller (Live In The Studio)
Ostbrut -Eine Kalte Nacht
Peach Kelli Pop -Bunny Luv
Quiet Loner -We Will Not Forget
Swinelord -Void
Epic Problem -Lines
The Ex -That’s Not A Virus

Three Acres and a Cow: don’t you wish you had it now?

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Three Acres and a Cow advert for another of their events.

By Nick Cooke

Three Acres and a Cow: don’t you wish you had it now? Well yes, I do, and not just because of my love of agriculture gained from my Grandpa’s farm, but because that’s part of the name of the uplifting and enlightening show written and performed by Robin Grey and Rachel Rose Reid. The full name of the show is “Three Acres And A Cow: A History Of Land Rights And Protest In Folk Song And Story”.

It deals with this country’s history from the Conquest to the modern day, dealing with enclosure amongst other themes, which has reared it ugly head many times, at one point being legalised by parliment after the Civil War.It also shows how the struggle over the right to land and it’s role in class struggle has played a central role in our folk memory and in politics – from the well loved tale of Robin Hood to ongoing struggles such as the fracking protests. It takes you on a winding path through the tragidies, the injustices and the rare but inspiring victories; often reminding us that although you may not live to see what you have fought for to be won doesn’t mean you fought in vain. It shows that what ever we may have been told by those in power the blame for the struggles we face lies with them, with their croneisem and greed, not with those at the bottom struggling to get by, where ever they may have been born.

Help us find tenants for a flat above Mcr Social Centre!

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Can you help us find tenants for a cosy 2 bed flat above the new social centre?

Manchester Social Centre are (literally) on the verge of signing a lease on a space on Moss Side/ Fallowfield border. It’s pretty modest and nothing flash, but it’ll provide a space for us to mingle, organise, plot, plan and have fun.

Above the space is a 2 bed flat which the landlord is renting out separately. We’d really like to get some like-minded comrades living in it as we’ll be sharing a back yard and it’ll potentially make our lives a lot easier in the long run if we have a good relationship with the people living there. It’ll also put us in the landlords good books if we help find him some nice tenants.

The flat has recently had rennovations done and is up for £495 pcm

Info and photos here : http://www.zoopla.co.uk/to-rent/details/32113236

We don’t expect that this will be a particularly rowdy place to live as the social centre is going to be run primarily as a cafe where we are allowed unamplified music.

Please share this with friends and lets try to match some nice people with this nice home!