Succesful Public Meeting Discusses Next Steps in Campaign to Save Edmund Street Day Centre

“This is about the council trying to move the poor out of the city centre to create an image of prosperity and recovery in Bradford. But it’s an illusion, the council are trying to make believe that poverty doesn’t exist here”. These comments summed up the feeling of the motivations behind Bradford Council’s decision to cut funding to the Edmund Street Day Centre at a public meeting of 25 people on Thursday 6th October.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire organiser

The ‘Save Edmund Street Day Centre’ campaign has been initiated recently by Bradford Socialist Party members, receiving significant coverage in local print and radio media. The meeting was attended by service users, people involved in the voluntary and community sectors as well as anti-cuts activists. Disgracefully, despite being invited, not one of the councillors for the ward the service is based in turned up to the meeting, to the anger of numerous service users.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party branch secretary, who has helped spearhead the campaign so far, opened up the meeting, putting the closure of the day centre in the context of Bradford Council’s passing on of the Tory austerity agenda onto the people of the city.

He was well aware of the valuable services provided by the day centre as a former probation officer who had referred people there in the past, and commented what a loss to vulnerable people the closure of the day centre will be.

Ron, a service user, spoke next, explaining the worries many service users have that the facilities to be offered at the Salvation Army centre, a smaller center which is to allegedly take on running the service, will be able to provide. He also pointed out that the Salvation Army is a mile and a half away up a steep hill from Edmund Street, and that service users have worries regarding the Salvation Army’s attitude to the LGBT community.

Mike Quiggan, from the Bradford Resource Centre was the final speaker. He pointed out that Bradford historically has had a vibrant array of community organisations that have tackled issues of poverty and stood in solidarity with each other, often backed by the trade union movement. Yet he pointed out that this has been whittled away in the more recent period, citing “The introduction of capitalist managerial techniques from the private sector” as a key factor in the fragmenting of Bradford’s Community & Voluntary sector. He pledged to appeal for the support of Bradford Trades Council for the campaign.

A wide ranging discussion took place, with service users and volunteers highlighting the valuable interlinked services that will be lost with the move, and questioning whether this had even been considered by the council. Whilst the day centre will be moved, a substance abuse service on the same street will remain there, fracturing the vital link between the two.

A campaign planning meeting will take place next week to thrash out a strategy involving many of the valuable suggestions made at the meeting – key to this will be pressurising the council to reverse this decision, including lobbying the upcoming council meeting on the 18th October.

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Save Edmund Street Day Centre

The campaign has received coverage in the Telegraph and Argus, who took this photo - their article can be read at http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/14728760.Campaigners_hit_out_at_day_shelter_move/?commentSort=score

The campaign has received coverage in the Telegraph and Argus, who took this photo – their article can be read at http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/14728760.Campaigners_hit_out_at_day_shelter_move/?commentSort=score

Socialist Party members in Bradford have spent the last weeks mobilising against the closure of the Edmund Street day centre after it came to our attention that it will close on December 1st after the council transfered funding for the service to another provider.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

The move comes after Bradford (Labour) Council in it’s wisdom awarded the contract to the Salvation Army, who run a smaller building some mile and a half outside the city centre up a steep hill. This is a disgraceful situation.

The Day Centre has been in existence for 40 years since it opened it’s doors in 1976 to the disposed, poor and homeless of Bradford and it’s district. The Probation Service, Social Services and the NHS have often made referrals to there, with it literally keeping people alive at times. With the benefits cuts also kicking in now you can see the issues in Cities and towns like this up and down the nation, many service users have also said that they will not be able to get to the new centre due to finance or health issues and of course, winter is around the corner.

However, it is not only the service users that are worried, as the staff not being guaranteed and security under this transfer and often we know what Tupe means, a lesser service for these people and a race to the bottom on terms and conditions.

And what was Bradford councils response, they said it was awarded to the Salvation Army after a competitive tendering process. And there is the problem, people and vulnerable people at that have become pawns in a ‘competitive tendering process’ which takes no account of their needs – this just a money saving exercise if council were honest.

This Labour run council is sitting on millions of pounds of reserves, and their response has always been when  challenged  is that this is for a rainy day. Well, to continue the metaphor, it is a torrent now, they should be using it to fund services and building a campaign to win the necessary funding for the city.

Please like the Facebook site https://www.facebook.com/Save-Edmund-Street-Day-centre-938191652974461 and support the progress of this essential campaign to save a truly important service. And look for details of the public meeting we will call soon!

Lecturers Strike at Bradford Uni for Fair Pay

Socialist Party joins UCU members on the picket line at Bradford Uni - photo Iain Dalton

Socialist Party joins UCU members on the picket line at Bradford Uni – photo Iain Dalton

UCU members have been out at the University of Bradford on Wednesday & Thursday as part of the national dispute over pay and casualisation. Despite the weather, a dozen pickets were present on the second day when Socialist Party members locally visited the picket line.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

Many of the pickets talked about ongoing job reviews at the University which they believed were designed to cut staff pay, by making job descriptions more vague. Other pickets talked about how with the union they had challenged this procedure, in some cases forcing the university to recognise additional duties they were undertkaing and increase pay!

Tish, one of the UCU reps at the University, spoke to us about her concerns over education in general, including her local school which has been turned into an academy. The common theme in all the Tories plans for education, is increasing marketisation of the sector.

UCU pickets at Bradford University – photo Iain Dalton

Make Bradford Council Retreat on All Library cuts

Bradford Socialist Party members campaigning against the library cuts - photo Iain Dalton

Bradford Socialist Party members campaigning against the library cuts – photo Iain Dalton

Text of a Bradford Socialist Party ‘Save Our Libraries’ leaflet

The future of 12 libraries across the Bradford district lies in the balance, as part of around £61m worth of cuts passed by the council at its budget setting meeting in February. This would be a reduction of a half of full-time libraries across the district—another victim of the Tory government’s savage cuts which Labour-led Bradford Council are implementing.

The council had originally planned to fully staff just seven—the city centre plus Keighley, Manningham, Shipley, Ilkley, Bingley and Eccleshill.

Under pressure from campaigners, the budget was amended with funding to fully staff Wibsey, Laisterdyke and Wyke, whilst Baildon and Clayton will be partially staffed, with other hours being covered by unpaid volunteers.

The Socialist Party believes libraries are vital community resources, especially used by families with young children. It is vital that these services are provided by fully trained staff, not let to the mercies of whether enough people can volunteer to run services.

These services should not be sacrificed on the altar of austerity to help fund tax cuts for the wealthy and boost the profits of major corporations. We believe that the council should be resisting the cuts to its funding, not doing the Tories dirty work of attacking local communities jobs and services.

The £218 million the council holds in useable reserves must be utilised as a first step to building a mass campaign to challenge the government’s cuts.

Bantams Fans Fight for Affordable Ticket Prices

This Saturday, Bradford City and Doncaster Rovers supporters will take part in a protest at Valley Parade as part of the Football Supporters Federation’s ‘Twenty’s Plenty’ campaign for lower ticket prices for away fans. You can find out more about the campaign locally at their facebook page – Bantam’s Fans Say Twenty’s Plenty

Below we reproduce the text of a leaflet produced for the event by local Bantams fans.
We are here today, Saturday, the 12th March because we support the reciprocal deal initiated by Doncaster Rovers to encourage other clubs to offer affordable football if they see Rovers offering the same too. On October 17th Doncaster Rovers were hosts to the Bantams at the Keepmoat Stadium and charged travelling Bradford City fans only £15. This was done one the basis that an agreement was thought to have been made as early as the 17th September, when it was published on the FSF website.

However it has emerged that there has been a misunderstanding of this deal and Bradford City rather than make the match day ticket affordable, they have agreed to work with Doncaster Rovers supporters in providing free travel to away fans wishing to the game intend to charge Rovers fans the club. In this way it is considered a ‘reciprocal agreement’ that benefits both sets of supporters.

It is welcome that Bradford City offer to pay for free travel and is supported by the FSF but we realise that many Doncaster fans will not be happy about having to pay the full price of £25 to watch their team at Valley Parade especially when they thought there was an affordable ticket agreement in September and over 2,500 travelling Bantams took advantage of the excellent £15 offer for a League One game at the Keepmoat.

Many Doncaster fans have thought about boycotting the game as a result of the recent developments. Free travel to supporters on the coach is limited, welcome though that offer is, and it is vital that clubs continue to work together with supporters and the FSF to develop reciprocal offers as a way of keeping the matchday experience affordable.

Away Fans Matter Is an FSF campaign highlighting the importance of away fans. It’s a ritual that many football fans of all strips, hoops and quarters hold dear. The contribution that we as a collective give to the game in terms of being the twelfth man for our team and the contribution to the atmosphere overall is something City fans pride ourselves on. We often hear ourselves making the noise, more so than the home team – from the drummer, to those participating in the songs and chants, to the flag wavers and those fans in their numbers watching the game – we all contribute to make the game what it is.

As the FSF puts it, away fans “bring noise and colour to grounds and often spark the home support into life, generating the atmosphere that appealsto TV audiences around the world. Without away fans we believe football would struggle to bring in these mega media deals; clubs would lose millions each”.

They are of course relating to predominantly the bigger Premiership clubs of course, but all away fans from all the divisions in the pyramid structure are just as valuable.

It’s great to see large home crowds again of between 17 and 18,000 plus at Valley Parade thanks to the £149 cheap season ticket offer. What we haven’t seen is greater numbers of away fans supporting their teams – a vital added ingredient to create a great atmosphere. Generally the number of visitors in attendance is never that great. Sadly the increase in the match day price this season, from £20 to £25 may well impact on travelling fans the most. It will also have an impact on young fans especially who don’t have flexi-cards or season tickets who may want to come to a game at Valley Parade on the off chance. Raising the match day price contributes to the general increase in matchday prices and whilst the majority view is we have affordable football at City, it is not necessarily for all football fans that come to Valley Parade. Bantams Fans say Twenty’s Plenty believe that the Club should reverse it’s match day pricing policy and will raise awareness amongst fans and lobby the Club until it does.

If you agree, ‘Like’ the Bantams Fans say Twenty’s Plenty campaign Facebook ‘Likes’ page and join the FSF for FREE at http://fsf.org.uk/join/

Socialist’s anti-war art on show in Bradford

Peter Robson and one of his paintings

Peter Robson and one of his paintings

Currently on display at the Bradford Playhouse is a series of paintings by artist and Socialist Party member Peter Robson. The watercolours cover a number of issues relating to war, from collateral damage to those ignored by the history books.

In advance of his publication of a new series of paintings about the World War One, Peter spoke about the role art can play in political movements.

“Artists have a right – a duty – to put up a mirror and reflect what’s going on in the world. What is the purpose of art if it doesn’t prod and agitate people?

“That’s what I’m passionate about my art doing. It isn’t always easy to look at, but hopefully it angers people and motivates them.

“Life can be hard for prospective artists, with confrontational work often ignored by galleries who want safer pieces that will be a more reliable attraction. But you have to be honest and unafraid – and to those looking for protest art then don’t give up searching, there are plenty of us out there!”

Ian Slattery, Bradford Socialist Party

 

Anger Against Plans to Close Bradford Libraries

The planned decimation of library services in the Bradford area of West Yorkshire has led to angry scenes at the recent ‘consultation’ meetings, where details about the possible closure of 11 libraries have been put on the table.

Blaming budget pressures, Bradford Council propose to fully fund just seven libraries in the region, with the other 11 to be run by volunteers or closed. There was no doubt amongst people at the meetings about the damage this will do. Socialist Party members are amongst those organising opposition to these plans, starting by setting up a steering committee that will be meeting shortly to set up a public meeting to give an organised voice to the anger that exists on the issue.

With the council debating the issue on February 25th these consultations leave predictably little time to regroup and organise resistance, but they will have a shock later this month if they expect that meeting to take place without a wall of opposition outside.

With Labour running Bradford council there is hope amongst some that a re-think may yet happen. As we made clear at the consultations, the £218m in available reserves held by them must be utilised as a first step to building a challenge to the government’s cuts. Labour councillors have recently received detailed letters outlining how to set a legal no cuts budget that would be the basis of this campaign, with Momentum locally also pushing councillors to resist the cuts. We look forward to hearing their response, or to them hearing ours on Feb 25th and beyond.

Ian Slattery, Bradford Socialist Party.