Monday, 18 November 2013

UWE Arms Fair, Bristol - Drop Beats Not Bombs Rally

Just in from campaigners against the arms fair at the University of the West of England, Frenchay, Bristol. The arms fair will be taking place on Wednesday this week. More info on the arms fair and plans for protests here: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/stop-uwe-arms-fair.html

Drop beats not bombs rally
4pm @ UWE, Frenchay campus
by the bus stops
Tuesday19th.

Listen out for the sound system!
The University of the West of England in Bristol is hosting an arms and 'defence' business fair on the 20th November 2013. This conference portrays itself as the main networking and business event in the UK for the MOD and the military community. See their website: http://www.dprte.co.uk

Students are coming together and welcome support to kick them off campus!

Students at UWE believe a decision to host this event is not in the interest of students or education but part of a wider shift towards profit-driven interests. We are calling on UWE not to invest itself into, promote, support or enable profit-making from/of/through wars, military uses of research, military networks, and violent approaches towards conflicts. Students also denounce the University's strategy of investing into large infrastructures which are largely useless to students and education, like the planned 20,000 seats 'UWE stadium' or UWE's massive Conference Centre, where this conference is to take place.

Please sign our petition here:

https://www.change.org/petitions/calling-the-university-of-the-west-of-england-uwe-bristol-not-to-invest-itself-into-promote-support-or-enable-profit-making-from-of-through-wars-military-uses-of-research-military-networks-and-violent-approaches-towards-conflicts

Our student newspaper, the WesternEye has published this article: http://www.westerneye.net/news/2013/11/uwe-hosts-arms-fair/

A student has written an open letter showing the related gaps between UWEs claims to sustainability and this military conference:
http://www.westerneye.net/comment/2013/11/open-letter-to-uwe-sustainability-of-the-bloodhound-scc-cars-rockets-and-forthcoming-arms-and-defence-fair-at-uwe/


Saturday, 16 November 2013

Occupy Bath - Notes from the Past

Two years ago, the hot topic in the city was a small encampment in Queen Square. In six weeks, so much happened there. Many friendships were made, many people decided that enough was enough and made the decision to make a stand, and many people were inspired - and this legacy still continues today.

A few weeks ago, a friend informed me that they had received a mysterious package with my name on it, and finally got round to giving it to me earlier today. Inside was a wire-bound notebook and a card from someone I hadn't heard from in many months, the person who without a doubt spent more time at the camp than anyone else. Inside was a collection of thoughts, questions, statements, a camping rota and some loose pieces of paper with messages of support from members of the public - all written during the time of the original camp. As we have now reached the second anniversary of Occupy Bath, I thought I might share some of the contents, so that people can be reminded of exactly what the camp meant to the citizens of Bath.

Comments from the Public

The majority of these comments were simple - things like "good luck" and "keep going" - but here's a selection of the more interesting ones from the 100 or so comments. At least one is from a very well-known person, but I'll leave it to you to guess who it was and what they said...

"Very happy you're here!"
"This is great! Time for the silent majority to speak up!"
"Well done to you all - good luck and hope the weather gets better soon!"
"Keep the presence going - it's time the majority in this country had a voice"
"Excellent. There's a need for a voice!!"
"Politics is about the personal - it's about the people"
"Speaking for many"
"Keep going and be very much more ambitious"
"Well done - hope you link with the strike on 30 Nov"
"Thank you, you're speaking for many of us"
"Don't let the bastards grind you down! Support and solidarity to Occupy!"
"Let's get talking!"
"Be the change you want to see - Occupy everywhere!"
"We need to be heard!"
"Very grateful to you for being here"
"You are my heroes, I'm so heart-warmed by your commitment"
"Democracy only works with a level playing field - so state funded campaigns by parties means also no vested interest or lobbying by big money!! Governments are in the pockets of big business"
"The web widens!"
"Down with central banking!"
"Freedom is a valuable thing!"
"You are representing so many people who can't be here"
"Good to see you here. Solidarity from an NUT member"
"Thank you for representing me!"
"Sack the bankers!"
"Good luck, solidarity from Wales!"
"Hopefully the Occupy Movement can keep going and get stronger. Keep up the good work!"
"Thank you for making this statement and taking this action - do it IN MY NAME! With love"
"Sorry I can't join you all but keep it up please, you're speaking for us all!"
"I'm supporting every peaceful movement towards the better"

Questions

The following questions were put forward to be considered to give to the BRLSI for a debate on the Occupy Movement. Most are still relevant today, perhaps more so. If you weren't there, these are some of the things we were talking about at the camp:


1. Is it time for a legal ratio between minimum wage and a maximum wage?
2. Do we need more women in politics?
3. Should manifesto pledges be legally binding (at least key ones)?
4. Should we consider a universal allowance/credit ensuring food and energy for citizens?
5. Will the virtual removal of legal aid make society fairer?
6. Should MPs have a genuine local connection to their constituency (i.e. long-term residency)?
7. Should Bath have a local minimum wage as in London?
8. Do we want American insurance companies running the NHS?
9. What defines growth and competitiveness in a global economy?
10. 80% of the world's population do not have freedom of movement across all borders - is this right?
11. Does the bombing of a country for their resources influence immigration?
12. Is there a link between poverty, wars, inequality, economic instability and climate change?
13. Is growth and international competitiveness conducive to human happiness?

Ideas for Placards

Most of these suggestions came from visitors to the camp.

- We are the 99%
- Stop the Traders Gambling with Our Money
- XXX Cities Occupied Around the World
- Education for All
- Are You Happy About Minimum Wage?
- Is Your Rent Eating All Your Income?
- Slaves of the Banks
- We Didn't Vote for Traders
- There's Enough for Everyone's Need, But Not for Everyone's Greed
- 1 Job for 50 People... Are You One of the 49 Left Over?
- "The Future Isn't Inherited From Our Ancestors, It's Borrowed From Our Children" - Native American Proverb
- There's Enough For 2 Tennis Courts Per Person of Land in the UK
- Maldives, Bangladesh, Philippines Overflown By Global Warming.... Should Bath Host the Climatic Refugees?
- Having a Job = The Most Important Thing in Life?
- No, We Haven't Found a Magic Solution For Global Warming
- You Don't Change Things By Fighting the Existing System, Instead Design a New System Which Makes the Old One Obsolete
- Non-Violent Resistance Does Not Seek to Defeat or Humiliate the Opponent, But to Win His Friendship and Understanding
- We Can Have Democracy in This Country, Or We Can Have Great Wealth Concentrated in the Hands of a Few, But We Cannot Have Both
- If Not Now, When? If Not You, Who?


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Stop The UWE Arms Fair

From campaigners against the arms fair at the University of the West of England (UWE), Frenchay Campus, Bristol:
STOP THE UWE ARMS FAIR

PROTEST OUTSIDE THE ECC ALL DAY. WEDNESDAY 20TH NOVEMBER.

BRING SOMETHING TO MAKE LOTS OF NOISE.

UWE will be hosting an Arms fair in the ECC on the 20th of November. UWE is giving them the space to network and plan the selling and buying of weapons! This includes exporting to other countries, new technology in weaponry and manufacturing of these weapons.

Angry with this happening? Then come to the PROTEST. If you do not have enough time then email the vice chancellor at Steven.West@uwe.ac.uk to voice your complaints.

MONDAY- banner making and planning, core24 from noon.

TUESDAY- Drop Beats Not Bombs - rally/party against the arms trade, student village. Meet 4pm at the Frenchay bus stops. Bring people.

WEDNESDAY- PROTEST OUTSIDE THE ECC!

The UK is one of the worlds largest exporters of weapons, most of the arms sold go to middle east, and South & East Asia. There are very few legal restrictions on where arms can be sold, even exporting to countries with highly questionable human rights records is considered legal.

In 2010 the UK Government Human Rights Annual Report identified 26 countries “of Concern”,. Despite these concerns the UK approved arms exports to 16 of these countries, including Libya, Israel and Saudi Arabia. During the Arab spring uprisings in 2011, UK brought weapons were routinely used in the crack down against protesters. The UK often sells weapons to both sides of a war, prolonging conflicts to increase profits for arms dealers at cost of the lives of soldiers and civilians. During the Falklands war Argentina was legally sold weapons, which were then used against British soldiers!

War creates poverty, any African nation at war economy shrinks 15% each year. It looses infrastructure, spreads disease, makes land infertile and kills a lot of the population. Most war related deaths are civilian; around 90%.

At the same time we create stricter border control policies. We promote war to countries, sell them weapons, increasing their poverty, while decreasing their ability to live. We then refuse refuge to those who try to escape these terrifying situations we help to create.

If they do manage to get to the UK, refugees often face discrimination. Like the disgusting “go Home” anti immigration vans, that the government were proudly driving around earlier this year. Go Home and be shot at, by our weapons!

The Government has always had incredibly close ties with the arms companies.The Government’s UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) department is a vital element of the UK’s arms dealing. In 2008 it opened the Defence & Security Organisation (DSO) which promotes weaponry on behalf of arms companies. 54% of UKTI staff now only invested in selling Arms.

The Government’s main arguments to defend it's behaviour fit into three categories: arms exports are important for national security; they are vital to the UK economy and jobs; and they are stringently regulated.

These are all false

There is no “security of supply”. Arms production takes place across the globe and all significant Ministry of Defence purchases include hundreds or thousands of imported components and sub-systems. If we were to go to war with any of those countries, or run out of money, then why would those countries still supply us with weapons?

This argument also falls through in that it looks at the world through a military lens, It marginalises major security threats such as climate change, energy insecurity and inequality that are acknowledged by Government but absent in terms of meaningful policies and funding.

The arms trade is heavily subsidised to the tune of £852 million a year - that's more than £13,000 per job per year! Imagine what could be done if all those skills and resources were devoted to socially beneficial projects.

Selling Arms is a drain on the public purse, causes human rights atrocities and destruction of the environment, and is riddled with accusations of fraud and illegality – none of which the government has put much effort into investigating. The only reason to sustain the arms trade is to make the politicians rich mates even richer, and for those in power in our country to feel 'big' and important.

The companies which attend Arms Fairs are guaranteed potential customers in vast numbers, including military delegations and individual trade, government and armed forces representatives. They make contact, negotiate and sign contracts over the course of a number of arms fairs and interim meetings.

So don't even think a strongly worded letter to your local MP will change anything. It is time to take action into our own hands and Stop the Arms Trade. Lets kick the Arms Fair out of our university!

More info on the Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/NOWMDatUWE

More info on the Drop Beats Not Bombs rally at UWE on Tues 19th November here: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/uwe-arms-fair-bristol-direct-action.html


Thursday, 31 October 2013

Citizen's Advice Bureau - Cuts and Protests


Bath and North-East Somerset Council are planning to cut the budget of the local Citizen's Advice Bureau by 55%. Many people rely on the services our local CAB provides, and we can't let the council cut the funding.

If you haven't already used the CAB, it's very possible that you or someone you know will need to at some point in their lives. These are some of the reasons why people have needed to use the Bath CAB in the past:

  • Help! I've been diagnosed with a serious illness and I can't work any more - what am I entitled to?
  • Help! I've got rent arrears and I've lost my job. What can I do?
  • Help! My employer sacked me while I was pregnant - can they do this?
  • Help! My landlord threatened to evict my family because I complained that the roof is leaking

The CAB is often the only thing that stands between a lot of people and families becoming "vulnerable and greatest in need".

So what can you do? Three actions have been planned to attempt to get the council to change their minds - if you can help with one or more of these then it will go a long way to helping the campaign.
  1. A petition has been set up on the 38 Degrees website. Sign it and share it everywhere: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-our-cab-in-banes 
  2. A demo will be taking place on the steps of the Guildhall at 1pm on Tuesday 5th November. If you can make it, please come along and show that you care, and tell your family and friends.
  3. Local resident Lin Patterson has managed to get 3 mins to speak about the CAB at the full council meeting on Thursday 14th November. There will be a demonstration at 6pm outside the Guildhall, just prior to her slot. Please come along and support her!



Monday, 30 September 2013

Anarchy vs Chaos: An Introduction to Anarchism‏

Press release from BARF, the Bath-based anarchist collective...


Anarchy vs Chaos: An Introduction to Anarchism‏

On Saturday 5th October, from 4 until 7pm in the Coffee Lounge of Manvers Street Baptist Church in Bath (a minute's walk from Bath Spa train station), the Black And Red Federation will be organising a discussion on anarchism, and invite members of the public to come along and take part. The group feels that recent government policy and business lobbyists have made the UK a better place for millionaires and right-wing politicians, but an increasingly uncertain and unhealthy place for everyone else.

Anarchism has received a bad press ever since its birth 173 years ago, with anarchists forced into stereotypes of either violent thugs or sandal-footed hippies – caricatures repeated by both the media and political establishment on one side, but also by self-proclaimed anarchists on the other. But many anarchists see it differently: the philosophy has come a long way since its roots amongst the Taoists of ancient China and the Christian Anabaptists of 16th Century Europe, promoting mutual respect, equality and rationality, and opposing oppression wherever it appears. Indeed, anarchism had become a mass movement of hundreds of thousands of everyday people fighting for and winning freedom from the 1920s to the 1930s in the Ukraine, Spain and Korea, however briefly. Far from embracing destruction and chaos, anarchists say that 'Anarchism is Order'!

In Bath on Saturday, a handful of local speakers will make short presentations on the ideas and history of this important but controversial political philosophy, before breaking down into longer group sessions where all present are invited to discuss and offer their two cents. The group will ask whether, in this current climate of biting austerity and growing global unrest, anarchists and their ideas have any role to play?

Entry is free, food and hot drinks will be available, as will stalls of literature, and all are welcome to come along and join them on the day! This will be the first in a series of talks this year.

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/204881599685209/

BARF Website: https://network23.org/barf/

 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Bristol Occupation Against Attack on Syria

Once more, College Green in Bristol is due to be occupied - this time against an imminent attack on Syria. A Facebook event page has been set up to promote the protest, from 5pm this Thursday. The page reads:

Britain, France and the US are committing to another disastrous military intervention. Apart from the inevitable casualties, any attack on Syria can only inflame an already disastrous civil war and would risk pulling in regional powers further.

Most people in this country have learned from the disasters of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. According to a Telegraph poll today only 9% of British people support an attack. Our politicians however have learned nothing.

We are to congregate in full force and OCCUPY College Green in protest against this possible "intervention" in Syria.

Kit List:

Tent
Sleeping Bag
Water
Food
Loud Things
Musical Instruments
Medication
Banners
Water Proofs


Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/601040616614300/?ref=3

Another campaign is calling for people to write to their MP - find your MP at
http://www.writetothem.com/

Badger Cull - Direct Action the Only Option Left

From an anonymous correspondent:

We've tried everything. Legal challenges, petitions, marches, boycotts, celebrity support, trying to get landowners to pull out, music videos, getting the press on board and getting a vote in parliament. All of the measures that could possibly be undertaken to stand up for the badgers, the scientific evidence and the wishes of the general public against the barbaric measures proposed by the Tory government, DEFRA and the NFU have been tried and failed. This is more than a horrific slaughter of our wildlife - this is the cold face of an undemocratic system that does not listen to reason or public opinion. They have left us with no other choice - the only option left is to get out in the field and make damn sure that no badgers die.

There will be night patrols in the two cull zones in Somerset and Gloucestershire. Last night the cull began and there was an estimated 500 activists in the cull zones. There will be badger rescuers out looking and taking care of injured badgers. There is an activist camp in Somerset - for directions ring 01386 761455.

All who are willing and able are needed in the cull zones. The badgers need you!!!

Standing Stone's Blog will publish articles from anti-cull activists - please e-mail them to standingstonesblog@hotmail.co.uk


See also: The Badger Cull - What You Need to Know http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/the-badger-cull-what-you-need-to-know.html

Monday, 26 August 2013

Badger Cull to Start Imminently



If the rumour mill and the national press is to be believed, the slaughter is about to start - possibly tonight. The government haven't listened to the scientists and the public, and they are going ahead with the biggest mindless slaughter of wildlife in British history.

As I write this, there are brave people in the fields, prepared to do what they can to prevent this massacre. The government are trying to crack down on their democratic rights, but for many passionate people this is something that simply has to be stopped, and they will be putting themselves at risk. Others will be nearby supporting them, and carrying out less risky protest activities and tending to injured badgers and orphaned cubs. Many more will be supporting them from afar, sharing news stories, writing letters, going on marches, protesting shops selling milk from the cull zones, signing petitions and preparing legal challenges.

If you can support the anti-cull movement in any way possible, please do so. You don't have to stand in front of a gun, but there are many more activities that you can carry out. For more information contact your local hunt sabs and/or badger groups.

Standing Stone's Blog is committed to publishing anti-cull content. If you would like to contribute a piece (anonymously if you wish), especially accounts of protests in the field and badger rescue, please send it to: standingstonesblog@hotmail.co.uk

Bathonians on Facebook - the Bath Against the Badger Cull page might be just what you are looking for: https://www.facebook.com/BathAgainstTheBadgerCull

See also: The Badger Cull - What You Need to Know http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/the-badger-cull-what-you-need-to-know.html



September Date for Public Toilet Council Debate

Following the occupation of Twerton Public Toilets and a lot of petition signatures, here is an update from the Save Our Public Toilets campaign:

Following the hand-in of the 2400 odd signature petition  on Friday 9th, the B&NES Democratic Services are counting the number of B&NES post codes to ensure there are 1000 to trigger a council debate.  
 
Assuming that a full council debate will be triggered, possibly on Thursday Sept 12th, we are researching other aspects, legal and financial, to raise with various councillors and to include in a statement to that meeting.  The meeting starts at the unusually late time of 7:30pm, preceded by another full council meeting to do with approving aldermen, which starts at 6:30pm. 
 
Unfortunately, John Bull, leader of the Labour group in the council, whose support would be necessary to reverse any entrenched policy, (along with the Independent "group"), is saying, "The Labour Group will be discussing it (prior to the Council debate in September).  But, in the light of our difficulty in suggesting where else the axe should fall, I think that a paying system is maybe worth looking at, certainly for Larkhall."  
 
So far the Independents, led by Bryan Chalker, are of the same mind, and although we are awaiting further communication, nothing in their previous ones engenders hope of change.  Which is why it is necessary to pursue other lines of research.
 
Another organisation, Bath Against the Cuts, is holding a demonstration between 5 - 5:30pm on Sept 12th outside the Guildhall, and is planning to make a registered statement to the council, as we will for the Save Our Public Toilets campaign.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Bath Public Toilet Occupation: Day 4

Twerton Toilet Occupation
It's official: As of 8pm today the occupation of the Twerton public toilets has ended. After spending 3 nights in the toilet and collecting 2000 petition signatures online and a further 400 outside the toilets, Lin Patterson has left the building. On hearing the news, Occupy Bath posted on Facebook: "BREAKING NEWS - Lin has ended the occupation! She just informed us over the phone and said that she has accomplished what she set out to do. Lin will be appearing as a guest on Daybreak on ITV on Monday morning. The petition is now at 1983 signatures and additionally there are around 400 signatures on a paper petition collected outside the toilets. Well done Lin!!!"

Earlier today, Lin issued the following statement: "
A big thank you to all 38 Degrees people who have signed the petition to save our public toilets in Bath. You are amazing. Please ask your family, friends and work colleagues to sign the petition and continue to share it by e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-our-public-toilets-open

Both Councillors for Twerton have visited outside the toilets and it seems there may be 2 rays of hope - but nothing is certain , so it would NOT be wise to think the Twerton toilets are safe yet.

First, the disabled toilet is the only wheelchair accessible one in the area, even the football ground has been relying on it to fulfill their statutory obligation to provide equal access. So an Equalities Impact Assessment has been called for, which MAY keep the toilets open for 3 months - possibly.

Then negotiations are going on with nearby establishments. This is possibly the football ground or Morrisons, who have bought the old Blockbuster building, to subsidize the existing toilets and hold the RADAR key for the disabled cubicle. So a lot of maybes.
In the meantime the community can keep up the pressure, now that more people are aware.

So many times today and yesterday, I wished I could film the passion and clarity of those who approached to sign, and their outrage over the possibility of closure.

A couple of 14 year old girls held the fort with the petition table for an hour while I took a much needed nap. They counted the signatures, which now total 309 in 2 days.

Considering most of those people were either using the loo or making a special trip, that is phenomenal. So between the 2 petitions in 2 days, we've topped 2000. Has this happened in Bath before? Sometimes you can be almost overcome by the goodness of people. Let's hope the council will recognize the changed landscape."

Councillor David Dixon, to whom the petition is addressed said "
Once I have received the petition I can ensure a full response"

Standing Stone's Blog will report on the outcome of the petition when the time comes.

Congratulations Lin, and well done for standing up for ordinary people.

More on this story:

Day 1: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/bath-resident-occupies-twerton-public.html
Day 2: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/bath-public-toilet-occupation-day-2.html

Day 3: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/bath-public-toilet-occupation-day-3.html 

Friday, 2 August 2013

Bath Public Toilet Occupation: Day 3

Twerton Public Toilet Occupation
The Twerton Toilet Demo has seen a successful third day. On Wednesday, Lin Patterson begun the occupation of a public toilet that was due to be closed for good yesterday. Since then her petition on the 38 Degrees website has grown to over 1800 signatures and Lin has been featured in the local and national news.

Earlier today, Lin was stood outside the toilet answering questions from the public. Other Bath residents have joined in by collecting several hundred paper signatures. Local taxi drivers have also been very supportive, telling Lin that they regularly stop to use those toilets. A Twerton resident with mobility difficulties commented "I have great difficulty getting to the shops and back. If I get caught short while doing my weekly shopping, I can't just run home like a normal person. I need these toilets to stay open". It has also come to the attention of the demonstrators that Twerton public toilets are the only loos in that region of Bath with disabled access.

Lin has been overwhelmed by the amount of public support. She was stunned when a woman drove all of the way from South Gloucestershire today just to see her. Lin has been passing Occupy Bath updates to post on their Facebook page. Earlier today she commented "What an incredible response to the 38 Degrees petition! Every signature represents 10 others who are disabled, young, busy carers, elderly with medical or mobility problems and the list goes on. We need the council to take down the closure signs and acknowledge their closure plans were unreasonable. I have a friend who absolutely relies on these toilets, which really brings it home. Today has seen a media frenzy which hopefully will generate even more signatures so the council will have to act."

Lin's petition can be found at: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-our-public-toilets-open


More on this story: 
Day 1: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/bath-resident-occupies-twerton-public.html
Day 2: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/bath-public-toilet-occupation-day-2.html

Day 4: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/bath-public-toilet-occupation-day-4.html

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Bath Public Toilet Occupation: Day 2

Twerton Toilet Protest
Yesterday Bath resident Lin Patterson began an occupation of a public toilet due to be closed by the council today. The toilet remains open and Lin has attracted the attention of the local media, including the Bath Chronicle and the BBC, and was on BBC Points West this evening talking about the campaign.

Since her occupation began yesterday, her petition on the 38 Degrees website has reached over 1000 signatures. This afternoon she commented:

"1000 signatures in just over a day is absolutely amazing! What it means is that we can prevail upon the council to have a debate based on achieving 1000 signatures on a petition to keep the toilets open. I have to thank every single person who took the trouble to sign the petition and please tell your friends and groups to do the same.

I would also like to thank a man named Adie Rawlings who single-handedly gathered almost 200 signatures on a paper petition.

The community is getting involved!"


Lin says that she intends to continue the occupation for at least a few more days.

The protest has seen support from Occupy Bath and many members of the public, many of whom were unaware that the council were closing down toilets in the city. 

Political comedian Mark Thomas, who performed in Bath last week, has added his support to the campaign by tweeting the petition, and called Lin's protest "brilliant".

The petition can be found at: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-our-public-toilets-open


More on this story:
Day 1: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/bath-resident-occupies-twerton-public.html
Day 3: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/bath-public-toilet-occupation-day-3.html 
Day 4: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/bath-public-toilet-occupation-day-4.html

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Bath Resident Occupies Public Toilet in Protest Against Closures


 
Twerton Toilet Protest

(updated 22:30 31/7/13)
Late Wednesday afternoon, (31st July 2013) Lin Patterson, 67, took a sleeping bag, fresh water and supplies and occupied the public toilets in Twerton, Bath. The local council want to close the toilets permanently the next day in order to save £8,289 per year.  It is one of three public toilets closing that day in Bath (Combe Down and Peasedown are the others).

Local residents attended a demonstration at 6pm outside the toilets in support and as a last minute attempt to save their toilets.  One father of a young boy said,” I didn’t even know the toilets were closing.  I bring my young son here often, because you know how it is with young children.” When it was pointed out that a sign had been posted on the toilets announcing the closure, he said “I didn’t even notice that.”

Lin has been campaigning to keep the public toilet open in Larkhall, the other side of Bath, where an extension has been granted until April while local councillors and officers try to find commercial subsidy.

She said, “I am occupying these toilets for three reasons.  There was some good campaigning by Twerton people to keep the toilets open, with a petition of 97 signatures handed in and another petition of at least 50 signatures gathered, but many people in Twerton still do not know our toilets are closing, and we need to know and mobilise. 

The second reason is that although I have been campaigning to save the Larkhall toilets, people need all these facilities. We are stronger if we work together. So this widens and intensifies the campaign. 

The third reason is to put this in the context of cuts that are unnecessary, unreasonable and unwanted by people who can vote. The priorities are wrong nationally and locally, with huge capital budgets for massive projects that primarily serve vested interests. I start with local toilets, which serve one of our most basic human needs, where closure hurts the most vulnerable, elderly, women, children and disabled people.”

When asked how long she would occupy the toilets, she answered, “We will see.”  People in Bath can support their toilets by signing the e-petition at: http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/keep-our-public-toilets-open

A local resident took a video of the occupation, below.




 


Councillor David Dixon, to whom the petition is addressed, was unsympathetic to the occupation, commenting on the Occupy Bath Facebook Page "Seriously, you are occupying some loos. They will start to smell after a few weeks. If you fancy cleaning them, opening and locking up each day, that would be great. Enjoy!" Perhaps he will take the issue more seriously when he realises that people actually care about this issue in this city.

Occupy Bath were keen to stress that this is not one of their actions but that they are supporting it by getting word out.


This evening Lin issued the following update:
"9pm on my first night occupying the Twerton Public Toilets. The cubicle is all laid out with folded over air mattress, books perched on a handrail, even some artificial flowers to brighten it up. People have been very interested. When they see the big "Occupied" banner they are astonished to learn their toilets are due to close tomorrow. It's quiet, with just the gulls and traffic from the main High Street a block away. But tomorrow I hope we'll see a buzz develop as the Twerton Market sets up in the morning. I have placards ready for people if they want their photo taken defending their right to public toilets"

David Dixon also mentioned that there is talk of Bath Football Club providing toilets in Twerton, but it appears that there is no definite replacement.


More on this story:
Day 2: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/bath-public-toilet-occupation-day-2.html

Day 3: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/bath-public-toilet-occupation-day-3.html 
Day 4: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/bath-public-toilet-occupation-day-4.html

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Badger Cull Protest Outside Don Foster's Office, 8 July

Bath Badger Walk and Bath Against the Badger Cull have been posting details of a forthcoming demonstration outside Bath MP Don Foster's office on Monday 8th July.

Don Foster, who last week voted in favour of the badger cull (despite previously voting against it), has enraged local opponents to the cull, some of whom have written to Don to express their disappointment (see here for his response: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/foster-watch-4-dons-revised-opinion-on.html).

The demonstration will be held outside Don's office at 31 James Street West, Bath, BA1 2BT from 12.30 in the afternoon.

The Facebook event page can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/events/481387925275375/

At the time of posting, 18 people had confirmed that they would be attending, with 27 maybe attending. With several weeks to go, many more may be joining them as word gets out.

This will be the third demonstration in Bath against the badger cull, following demonstrations in October 2012 and in May 2013.

For more on the badger cull, see my in-depth article here: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/the-badger-cull-what-you-need-to-know.html

For more on Don Foster and recent actions of his that have caused his constituents to cry "shame on you", check out FOSTER WATCH here: http://standingstonesblog.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page.html


Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Foster Watch #4 - Don's Revised Opinion on the Badger Cull

FOSTER WATCH
is a new series of posts following Bath MP Foster, who is now Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government. Details of Don's voting record can be found at http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?id=uk.org.publicwhip/member/40062&showall=yes#divisions


Don's Revised Opinion on the Badger Cull
Foster Watch has been forwarded two separate e-mails from Don Foster, one from March this year, when he appeared to be against the cull, and one from this week,a reponse from Don to one of his concerned constituents who wrote to him asking why he voted for the badger cull last week:

Don's position in March 2013:

"Dear XXXX

Thank you for getting in touch about the proposed badger cull.

I fully recognise the sensitive nature of this issue. As you can, imagine many of my constituents have contacted me regarding the cull over recent months, and I take their concerns very seriously.

I have written to the Environment Minister a number of times to highlight the strong misgivings my constituents have about the cull, especially regarding the scientific evidence for its efficacy.

I have always had reservations about a cull, and gained permission to abstain from the vote had it gone ahead late last year. I would have been unable to vote against due to my role as a minister.

Like you, I was very disappointed to learn that 3 pilot culls are now due to go ahead following initial postponement. While it is now seems likely that these culls will now go ahead, I will continue to urge that a sustainable strategy to eradicate bovine TB is pursued.


With best wishes,
Yours sincerely,
Don"


And Don's position in June 2013: 

"Dear XXXX 
Many thanks for your email.
I recognise that the proposed badger cull is an emotive issue, and I appreciate that you, like so many of my constituents, feel passionately about this subject.

My party has long supported animal welfare and I previously have expressed my concerns about the cull. The idea of culling even a single badger is naturally deeply distressing; however, as a Government we have decided that we cannot stand by and do nothing to help the cattle which become infected by bovine TB every year. During last year alone, 28,000 cattle were slaughtered in England as a bovine TB control measure. It is a trend that cannot be allowed to continue.

The planned badger cull that is due to take place this summer is a trial only, and is designed to have a positive impact on the spread of bovine TB. Any decision to extend the cull to other parts of England will be wholly dependent upon the successful outcomes of the two pilot areas. Crucially, I now believe that results of the trials will help inform the scientific debate around the efficacy of a wider cull. Despite my initial concerns, I have been comforted by the fact that the British Veterinary Association believe that a trial cull is required in the fight against bovine TB.

Notwithstanding, I maintain that we need to consider all the current tools available to us to halt the spread of bovine TB and it is reassuring that the Government is equally aware of the need to apply other control measures alongside these cull trials. That is why from 1st January 2013, better controls on cattle movements as part of a new bovine TB surveillance testing regime have come into force.

Ideally, I would like a science-led vaccination programme to be implemented, provided that we were certain that this would have a credible and lasting impact on bovine TB. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has invested heavily in the development of effective cattle vaccines for over a decade, and over the next four years we plan to invest a further £9.3 million in this area. Unfortunately however, cattle vaccination is currently prohibited under EU law.


Although Defra is in discussion with the European Commission about the necessary steps for allowing TB cattle vaccines, it is likely that it will take several years, rather than months, for a change in the law. The vaccination of badgers meanwhile poses various practical challenges, as the badgers themselves must first be trapped and the process of injected vaccination must be repeated every year. An oral badger vaccine is also many years away. However, the Badger Vaccine Deployment Project, funded by Defra, is currently ongoing in Gloucestershire, and we remain hopeful this too will have an important impact in tackling the disease.

I hope this response helps to reassure you that the Government is considering every available option in our struggle against bovine TB.

With best wishes,

Yours sincerely,

Don"

So in the space of a few months, Don has gone from being disappointed that the cull is going to go ahead, to voting for it? Where was his engagement with the public to get their permission to vote against it? Most likely he was whipped into it - in which case he should have stuck by his principles and rebelled. We can't allow this man to change his mind without discussing it with us first. Who is he representing - the people of Bath or the Lib Dems (or even the Tories)?


More on the badger cull: The Badger Cull - What You Need to Know
4. Don's Revised Opinion on the Badger Cull


Disclaimer
Standing Stone's Blog and Foster Watch is an independent blog that is not affiliated with, nor endorses, any political party or general electoral candidate currently in existence. It maintains that all leadership and authority should be questioned and seeks to do just that.
 

Friday, 7 June 2013

Foster Watch #3 - Climate Change in the National Curriculum

FOSTER WATCH
is a new series of posts following Bath MP Foster, who is now Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Communities and Local Government. Details of Don's voting record can be found at http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?id=uk.org.publicwhip/member/40062&showall=yes#divisions


Climate Change in the National Curriculum

Education Secretary Michael Gove wants to downgrade the issue of climate change in the National Curriculum http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/may/02/michael-gove-climate-change-curriculum


Of course, with the planet headed for disaster, more than ever we need to make sure our children our taught about climate change in school.

A concerned correspondent wrote to Don Foster and received this reply:

"Dear XXXX


Many thanks for getting in touch about climate change and the National Curriculum.

Liberal Democrats would not accept a National Curriculum that didn’t cover climate change.  This draft one does, in the Science Curriculum, which states that children should learn about “the production of carbon dioxide by human activity and the impact on climate”, before the age of 14.  Climate change will not be removed from the National Curriculum on our watch.

This is a draft National Curriculum, which has been out for consultation.  There is every opportunity to push for changes if people feel that climate change should be covered in other subjects besides science.

However, it is right to slim down the curriculum to be less prescriptive and to focus on the essentials, including climate change,  that children need to learn.

A slimmed down National Curriculum gives teachers more freedom to adapt their lessons to the individual children in their class – so it’s very likely teachers will choose to teach climate change in other subjects as well and there is nothing we would do to stop them doing this.  It is very hard to see how teachers could follow the Geography curriculum, for example, without talking about climate change.

I hope this offers you some reassurance."

Does this reassure that Don is doing all he can to include climate change in the National Curriculum? Foster Watch is not convinced, and does not find Don's answer satisfactory in the slightest.

Foster Watch
1. Badger Cull and Tuition Fees
2. Decarbonisation Targets and NHS Reforms 
3. Climate Change in the National Curriculum
4. Don's Revised Opinion on the Badger Cull

Disclaimer
Standing Stone's Blog and Foster Watch is an independent blog that is not affiliated with, nor endorses, any political party or general electoral candidate currently in existence. It maintains that all leadership and authority should be questioned and seeks to do just that.


National March Against the Badger Cull in London


Nation March Against the Badger Cull, London, 1st June 2013
With the mounting criticism of the government's policy of culling badgers to combat TB, it was only a matter of time before a huge demonstration took place in London.

A large group of badger activists set off from Bristol on a coach, stopping near Bath to collect members of Bath Against the Badger Cull, and headed up to London for the day. The atmosphere on the coach was vibrant as people got to know each other, and a team set about painting people's faces with black and white facepaint. Almost every was dressed appropriately for the day in black and white, with many "Stop the Cull" t-shirts and badger masks on board.

Arriving at the start of the demonstration outside Tate Britain, we were greeted warmly by a crowd of around 2000 people dressed as badgers. As some one put it - "There's never been so many badgers in London!". A range speakers from various organisations addressed the crowd, including Queen guitarist Brian May. See the video below for some of these speeches and footage of the march.


The march then set off with banners and placards raised, good spirits and lots of chanting, as well as sound system on wheels with a painted wooden badger on top.

The march was diverted at the end, and so we didn't go past parliament, due to a BNP demonstration taking place at the same time. Following the march, many headed to St James's Park for a picnic, while others, including Bath and Bristol activist, went on to picket the DEFRA office. On the way, we passed the pitifully small BNP demonstration, and some dressed as badgers chased a few of the fascists hanging around nearby.

For more on the badger cull, see: The Badger Cull - What You Need to Know