Protest against cuts to early help children’s services in Bradford

bradford early help protest

Trade unionists, service users and supporters protest against proposed cuts to early help service – photo Iain Dalton

Around 20 people gathered in Centenary Square ahead of Bradford Council’s monthly meeting to protest against the proposals in the consultation of the the early help service, part of the Children’s Services directorate of the council.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

The plans which are currently being consulted on propose £13m cut mostly in making up to 480 staff redundant but also downgrading children’s centre across the district, currently used by 22,000 children aged 0-4 years old, 60% of all under fives.

Trade unionists in the council, users of the service and their supporters distributed leaflets produced by the local unite branch, with a warm reception from the public.

David Ward, former Lib-Dem MP, and now an independent councillor in Bolton & Undercliffe ward – spoke to demonstrators opposing the proposals and mentioned the Green group on the council were challenging the proposals too.

Unfortunately, the response from the Labour leadership on the council is to double down on pushing these cutbacks through. Val Slater, the Executive member covering the service told the local press “Naturally people have a right to protest but until Government starts to address our major concerns regarding funding for children’s social care, then we have to manage with the limited funding we have.” As if the government are going to change their position without pressure being exerted on them to do so.

If Labour councillors want to follow through on Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies then they ought to be leading the fight to force the money out of the government to fund vital local services, such as this or the library service which faces a further near £1m worth of cuts in the forthcoming budget proposals. Anything less than doing so is a dereliction of duty for those who want to fight the cuts, which should include putting forward a no-cuts budget for 2018-19.

In the meantime, campaigners are planning for a second, larger demonstration to take place outside the council budget setting meeting in February. Socialist Party members will be arguing that this should be opened out to all those fighting against the various raft of cuts being made by the council.

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Defend children’s services in Bradford

A good start was made to the campaign to defend council-run children’s services in Bradford at a public meeting on December 5th, with representation from service users, trade unionists and community campaigners.
The stark facts were laid out: Cuts being made to children’s services of £13.3m are likely to see up to 480 jobs going, and will also affect children’s centres which will be brought into the new service. The Unite Shop Steward (who helped organise this meeting) has also been victimised over the issue.
The meeting made it clear that we can’t rely on trade union action alone to defeat this brutal cut, instead campaigners need to involve parents and service users.
Plans were made for immediate action to be taken, starting with a protest on December 12th outside the next Bradford Council meeting and a further public meeting on December 19th, at 7.30pm at Bradford Deaf Centre.
But socialists, community activists and trade unionists have made it clear that they are far from deaf to the affects these cuts and job losses will make and will be battling the council all through the festive season to force them to listen.
Bradford Socialist Party

BadArt world tour event in Skipton has succesful launch

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BadArt exhibit curator and artist Peter Harris (left) wth Bradford Socialist Party member and exhibitor Alan Hardman (right) – photo Paul Gerrard

Skipton is a quiet market town better known as the ‘Gateway to the Yorkshire Dales’ than it is for revolution. But on Friday 6th October socialist artists and activists, as well as the general public, from Manchester, Lancashire and West Yorkshire gathered there to view a dazzling selection of work by artists loosely grouped around BadArt.

Paul Gerrard, North West Socialist Party

Here were surrealist collages, intricate installations, disturbing paintings, photographs of demos, bold placards, banners, posters and cartoons in amazing variety. There was no monopoly of style or political position. The organiser of the show, Peter Harris, explains: ‘the diversity of the show was my main focus…. The arts enrich our lives as does the power of the imagination and although completely focused on the primary need for a socialist transformation of society we must never lose sight of the importance of creativity’.

Alan Hardman, a legendary cartoonist whose work has appeared in the Militant and the Socialist over four decades, was present to meet visitors and talk about his work. As ever he was generous with his time and his prints. Unfortunately Jean Stockdale, an internationally known ‘Outsider’ artist who was inspired to exhibit here, was unable to attend.

BadArt is not a school or a genre but a shared recognition that art can inspire us in our struggle and that imagination must be part of the DNA of a socialist future, where no-one will be an ‘artist’ because everyone is one, free to develop their creativity without political or economic constraints. As Trotsky and his collaborators put it ‘to develop intellectual creation an anarchist regime of individual liberty should from the first be established’. Several of the exhibitors here have had no formal artistic training, but have a passion to create.

The event was attended by 80 people, more than any other preview at the gallery, and, in addition to personal art sales, raised £150 for BadArt. The 17th century Mill Bridge Gallery overlooking the 18th century Leeds – Liverpool Canal provided a fitting setting for art which points to a socialist future.

The exhibit is open 10am-4pm on Thursdays and 10am-5pm Fridays and Saturdays

For more information see badartworld.net and https://www.facebook.com/Badartworldnet/

Keighley Rejects the EDL

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EDL march through Keighley whilst locals tell them they’re not welcome – photo Iain Dalton

“Get out of our town and take your racism with you,” was one of the messages hurled by shoppers at the small contingent of EDL members trying to stage a demonstration in Keighley. Massively outnumbered by police, around 40 members of far-right EDL met a respinse that celarly indicated Keighley folk didn’t want them there.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

This protest on Saturday 2nd September, was originally supposed to be one of two demonstrations that day, with EDL members set to descend on Bradford where threats of acid attacks against women wearing the Burka had been made in the preceeding week.

Yet the Bradford protest was called off, and the Keighley demonstration only took place due to the 4 lines of police seperating them from angry locals. An indication of the EDL’s poor state of organisation at present was they didn’t appear to have a megaphone, so no-one apart from them could hear their racist message.

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Socialist Party banner on one of the counter-demos – photo Tanis Belsham-Wray

Around 100 people, locals and anti-fascist campaigners gathered to oppose them on the other side of Church Green, whilst Unite Against Fascism held a similar sized protest which was kettled by the police around 500 metres down the road.

Socialist Party members from Bradford district, and neighbouring towns, intervened in both counter-protests, getting a good response to our leaflets linking the need to oppose the divise politics of the far-right with a clear opposition to austerity and the capitalist system.

 

Angry march against Bradford council-approved incinerator

Marching against the Aire Valley incinerator – photo Iain Dalton

Between 500 and 600 people showed a palpable level of anger not only to the proposed building of a waste incinerator in Keighley, Yorkshire, but also the decision by Bradford’s Labour-run council to pass the plans.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

Conversations we had with people at the protest on 25 March soon turned to anger towards the council with one protester saying: “Where was the consultation for this plant? People are still not aware that it will even be built and they have railroaded this through!”

“Incin-er-ate” one of the placards on the march – photo Iain Dalton

Pollution

If this site is built we can expect a 180-foot-tall stack and toxic smoke covering the district. Around 60 wagons a day are expected to add to the pollution. All of this contravenes Bradford council’s own environment project and plans. Clearly, cash speaks louder than the health of people.

People on the inspiring march into Keighley town centre engaged with us on the route, applauding us for making a stand. Motorists and passengers sounding their horns.

Socialist Party members joined the march and distributed a leaflet opposing the incinerator – photo Iain Dalton

At the rally in the town centre one speaker put the facts straight about employment at the plant saying the initial estimate of 500 jobs to be created was now actually 79 at best. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition banner was unfolded and drew a lot of attention with people linking cuts, poor life chances and the building of this plant.

We will now become more active in this campaign and hopefully the local community can push Bradford council back on the horrendous decision taken.

Leaflet distributed on the demo

 

Bradford: Anti-cuts lobby against poor-bashing budget

Bradford Socialist Party members were in attendance along with other activists at the lobby of the council on 23 February outside Bradford City Hall. Some Labour councillors came and talked to us as we attempted to persuade them to set a no-cuts budget.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

This was a marked difference from 2016 when they were openly hostile towards us. But our attempts to offer an anti-austerity budget did not stop the Labour-run council making a further £40 million of cuts which, with the already millions that have decimated this city, is a legacy they should be ashamed of.

Not only will these cuts yet again attack the poorest, with the Edmund Street centre already closed as a refuge for the homeless. To add insult to injury, after the dirty work was done, they announced to the local press that they now want to rehouse 20% of people in care homes back into their own homes!

Clearly, some of these people are very ill and it would be unbelievable to send them home. And to what? With these cuts, there will be no carers left at this rate. We will continue to challenge these councillors.

1,500 join Women’s March in Shipley

'Feminist Zealots' on the Women's March on Shipley - photo Iain Dalton

‘Feminist Zealots’ on the Women’s March on Shipley – photo Iain Dalton

Around 1,500 people joined a march in Shipley held in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington taking place in the wake of the inauguration of Donald Trump as President of the USA.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire organiser

The march was called by Shipley’s ‘Feminist Zealots’ a reference to a derogatory comment made by local MP, and Trump supporter, Philip Davies. Whilst organisers stressed the demo wasn;t about the Tory MP, a number of protesters brought placards aimed at him, as well as at Trump. The ‘Feminist Zealots’ themselves organised a free cake stall – a gesture aimed in response to Davies comments that “women want to have their cake and eat it”.

Many of the protestors had come from Shipley itself, with others coming from nearby towns like Baildon, Saltaire, Silsdon, Yeadon and Pudsey amongst those I spoke to. Many expressed their anger at the way the comments  of individuals like Davies and Trump can legitimate sexist behaviour.

Socialist Party members carry our 'Dump Trump' banner on the march - photo Iain Dalton

Socialist Party members carry our ‘Dump Trump’ banner on the march – photo Iain Dalton

Socialist Party members from Bradford joined the march, bringing our ‘Dump Trump’ banner along. We ran out of the several hundred leaflets we had printed, also selling numerous copies of the Socialist.