Tag Archives: Peter Robson

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

 

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.

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

 

Big Picket Lines As Bradford Bus Drivers Strike

Large First West Yorkshire bus driver's picket line - photo Ian Slattery

Large First West Yorkshire bus driver’s picket line – photo Ian Slattery

Over 300 bus drivers, engineers and support staff in Bradford said ‘enough is enough’ and came out on a 48-hour strike on Monday 27 April that will have a massive impact on their privatised company.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

On the picket line there were stories of brutal management tactics and bullying. Whatever the right-wing press say, this action is not just about a pay rise. One driver on the picket line said: ‘I was assaulted at work and the company would not even call the police, they were more interested in whether I could continue the journey to meet standards’!

He continued: ‘We have to stick together’ and commented further that some years ago there were 500 employees, now this has been reduced to less that 400 with the same amount of work.

Also the bus stock is very old with some of the buses now reaching the 15 year cut off and beyond, again, raising serious health and safety issues for drivers and the public alike. First West Yorkshire stand accused of allowing services to ‘wither on the vine’. As far as the workers are concerned, the depot is being allowed to run down with the intention of closing it in a city that already has way above the national average unemployment and poverty.

Rosters have been changed without any meaningful consultation, causing anger amongst workers that barely see their families as it is. So it is not difficult to see why this action has been taken. As well as giving our support to the struggle of these workers, Socialist Party members received a fantastic response to the TUSC leaflets we gave out. One worker finished his comments with: We will not go away, this is our future and our children’s!

Protest Against Huge Budget Cuts in Bradford

Protesters outside the council meeting

Protesters outside the council meeting

Anti-austerity protesters turned up outside Bradford town hall last Thursday to make their feelings known. As one protester said: ‘we will not take these cuts lying down’!

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

And what are these cuts?  About £170 million in total to be precise, what also is precise is where these horrendous cut backs will in effect ‘land’ on the people of this district.  Bradford is not a wealthy town that has been well documented, but the Con-Dem government’s disproportionate ‘attack’ on northern cities and towns seems to me to be totally ideological.

The North is still the most unionised part of the country, probably the most militant and certainly has some of the poorest areas of England.  So the cuts to education and social care to name a few will have a devastating effect on people in this city.

Clearly, if you are a Whitehall minister with no actual clue where Bradford is, job done I suspect.  Walking through Bradford at times, it is palpable the amount of people begging on the streets, this surely must also be an indicator of the problems ahead.

We brought a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) banner to the protest and gained a lot of local publicity for this (see two articles in the Telegraph & Argus – Article 1 & Article 2)

But the fight has only just begun to eventually stand candidates that will not lie and renege on their promises, only then will working class people have faith in the political process again.  We’re aiming to stand 7 TUSC candidates in the local council elections in May.

Solidarity with the FBU pensions strike

Bradford Socialist Party joins the striking FBU members

Bradford Socialist Party joins the striking FBU members

We joined the pickets at Odsal fire station as the local church clock struck 6pm on all hallows eve, with blue watch descending from the station and spirits running high!

Some amazing stories were being told, one female member of staff said that in South Yorkshire a new computer system from the French government was bought that not only still assigns crews in French but has, I kid you not, attempted to dispatch a ‘pump’ from central Sheffield to a fire at Disneyland, Paris. Now call me old fashioned, but this, along with the current dispute over pensions and the general anti-austerity campaign that the FBU are having to run cannot lead to good morale in a service full of brave people that run into buildings on fire while we actually run away!

The station that we were outside has been reduced from three pumps to now one. Indeed, the crews were saying that it is possibly under threat of closure in the near future under a restructuring programme. Well, we know what that means, more voluntary firefighters and less service, putting the public at extreme risk.

In light of this, we set off for the second picket of the night where we met 15-20 pickets at the Fairweather Green station; not fairweather pickets though! Again, the same stories of management intimidation, people being suspended and the possibility of job losses and certainly a reduction in living wages.

That aside, it was good to join these workers that we should have the utmost respect for and must continue to support in their struggle against the attacks that have been inflicted upon them.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

Bradford Benefits Under Attack

Bradford Socialist Party members campaigning against attacks on benefits outside the jobcentre

Bradford Socialist Party members campaigning against attacks on benefits outside the jobcentre

“Look for work nine to five, or face losing your benefits.” That was the government’s right-wing mantra for cities like Bradford, which has about 14,500 claimants for Jobseeker’s Allowance, and is part of a pilot scheme to pile on more misery.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

For the month of October Bradford’s jobless people must go to a signing on session, then spend the whole day (35 hours a week) looking for jobs that either don’t exist or have low wages.

The intention, of giving applicants the ability to write a CV, may seem benign. But read the small print.

Applicants will be sanctioned with a three month suspension if any transgression is registered, pushing vulnerable people and their children, further into poverty. A first breach will trigger a four week suspension. But any further transgressions will lead to an immediate three month suspension.

However there are few decent jobs in this city, we know this from the response we got at the Socialist Party’s sales stall outside the job centre. We plan more activity and hope to build a momentum with resistance from the people of Bradford to these horrendous attacks.