Fight the County Council cuts, but pick our battles; save our libraries

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Another round of cuts has been announced by the council, and another attack on our public services is being rolled out – well enough is enough, let us throw a spanner in their works and save our libraries.

We won’t be able to stop all the cuts at once, the only way to do that would be a change of administration in Parliament, and in local government – even then it would take weeks, months or even years for the budget and the policy to trickle down, arguably you wouldn’t start feeling the effects until the next financial year (by then it could be too late).

We need to be against all the cuts, but if we fight to stop all cuts we run the risk of stopping none. We have to pick and choose our battles, and we have to fight the battles we stand a chance of winning. Otherwise we are setting ourselves up for failure and the more long term negative effect of demoralisation. If we win small battles, if we win some battles and reverse some cuts, it weakens the position of cuts, and it strengthens our own hand, it makes us feel empowered, and when we are empowered, we are strong.

Chip away at the cuts, slowly but surely undermine the position through a series of smaller victories. The cuts to libraries is a battle we could win, it has been won before, and it can be won again. Why? Because it effects so many different people, it brings together a community, and they can galvanise around it, it is tangible – it is in your face. It should be the focus, the vanguard in our war against the local cuts.

We have to put forward the position that we are opposed to the cuts in principal, but if we spread ourselves too thin, the message is more diluted, and it is harder to get a tangible victory. Focus all our energies and resources on a single campaign, like libraries, campaign around stopping the closure of the libraries, while having the general anti-cut message in the background and at least then we stand the chance of claiming a victory.  Even if the only victory we end up claiming is stopping the closure of the libraries, we will have made a difference to a community. There are other positives as this helps create the campaigning infrastructure for future battles, the community links that are needed in any campaign, provides valuable experience and helps empower people.

So how do we move that forward?

1. A county wide response
Unity is strength, if the library campaigns are isolated they are easier to defeat – their needs to be a county wide response, a coordinated effort. Local groups need to be linked up and supporting one another in the communities battle to save their library

2. Raise awareness
People can’t get angry about something they don’t know about, we need to use all the available methods to raise awareness, social media campaigns, stickers, posters and petitions. Every possible way to raise awareness has to be explored, and the more innovative the better.

3. Protests
We love us a good protest and as part of a wider anti-cuts strategy it can play a pivotal part of showing our strength, and the opposition towards the closure. These can be at council meetings, and outside our libraries, and of course a speaker or two would be great.

4. Direct action
If we are going to draw a line in the sand and so no closures, we have to do more than a two hour protest, and we have to do more than a petition. We have to make it politically impossible for them to close the libraries, these means getting wider community support, but it also means making it as difficult as possible for them. Direct action has to be the way forward, occupy our libraries, carry out read ins, make it colourful, make it fun, make it innovative but most of all make it engaging so that more people get involved in the campaign.

5. Local support, local led
These campaigns have to be led from within the community or they will fail, every community has unsung heroes, and leaders waiting in them. If these campaigns are not coming from within the community, they won’t succeed, identify local leaders, and have as many local people not just involved in the campaign, but running the campaign as possible.

Get angry, get involved, get organised – save our libraries!

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Clean For The Queen – A Slap In The Face For The People Of Northampton

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Clean for the Queen – a slap in the face to the people of Northampton.

Clean for the Queen is a national initiative to get the downtrodden and desperate people of this country cleaning their own communities, after all our councils have been that drastically butchered by central government to the point that they’re no longer willing to.

In their own words director of the Clean for The Queen campaign Adrian Evans puts it; “We hope a million people will join us in a mass litter pick to give our beautiful country the facelift it deserves.” I don’t know about you, but surely its my governments job to make this country beautiful? Why not provide jobs to litter pickers? Instead of getting unpaid volunteers to do it? Why not give this country a facelift anyway? Why are we having to do it?

It gets worse as Adrian states; “Our ambition is to create a community inspired, grass-roots mass action event – one that will become a recurring annual clean up.” Not only is this not and never has been community inspired, but we should be looking at why we need an annual clean up? Is this to become the norm? The peasants turning out to clean for her maj?

I have no problem with people being empowered over their communities, I have no problem with communities coming together to achieve, I do however have a problem of normal people being forced to do something the council exist to do, and to carry out something that at one time in our not so distant past, people were employed to do.

People should take pride in their communities, and be encouraged to do so, for their neighbours sake, for their own sake, people should take pride in their surroundings because its part of their community. If there is any initiatives like this it should be for themselves, not some super rich woman that lives in multiple palaces, who lets face it has probably never held a brush, let alone used a litter bin.

Here in lies the insult not only to us but also to the many communities up and down this country feeling the harsh effects of corporate highwaymen, and political butchers, in the form of their enforced austerity measures.

What really adds salt to the wounds is the council cuts that are happening in this town, perhaps some of the biggest in the whole country, as our county council simply ceases to exist in any meaningful level.

Within a backdrop where many people in this country cannot afford to eat, it is beyond insulting. Far from what presents the Queen receives on her 90th birthday, my heart goes out to the many families up and down this country which are struggling to heat their homes, to feed their children. I’m more concerned with the homeless person you pass on the street, or the many children that won’t be getting any presents on their birthdays.

Living somewhere that is clean, is of course important but what about the many human casualties in this failed austerity gamble? Surely what is more important is that every person in this country is living in a home? That everyone is fed, clothed, warm, that those that are disabled are receiving adequate care? That our NHS is being torn to pieces by privatisation jackals foaming at the mouth of the prospect of getting their teeth into our health service?

I’m a republican, I don’t believe we need a state backed monarchy in the 21st century, but wouldn’t it of been much better for the Queen on her 90th birthday celebration, to I don’t know? Help the many poor and needy people in this country that are suffering under a brutal ideologically driven mob of a government, whose only concern seems to be how they can line their pockets of their rich chums.

Northampton Council Meeting of Contempt

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Northampton Borough Council has shown complete and utter contempt for the chamber, the position and most importantly the people of Northampton, as they spend their last full meeting before the elections patting themselves on the back and electioneering.

They seem to have forgotten the problems facing the administration, and will face up until the time of the election, they seem to have completely forgotten that their position is to represent the people that elected them.

I wish I could say this kind of behaviour shocked me, surprised me even but time and again they have ignored the concerns of residents, time and again they have ignored our views and warnings, and time and again they have put their own interests ahead of the people of Northampton.

Lets not forget how the Chron have played into the egoist fantasies of the council leader Mr.Mackintosh without a week going by when his face isn’t offending my computer screen. I could write endlessly listing the failures of this council, but everyone living in the town is already well aware of them.

They seem to be living in a different town to you and I, for among their many glowing achievements (which the council recognised) were the Northgate bus station, which has been a complete and utter disaster, causing untold amount of traffic delays, let alone the distress it has caused bus users and the general public.

Mary Markham even goes on to congratulate them all on how well they have done at combatting homelessness, even though figures released suggest homelessness has increased year on year during their control of the council.

The only shocking thing from the whole night is that the Labour group walked out in protest, finally an opposition – shame they are only four years too late. It would have been great if they had shown this kind of passion while we have had to put up this this lot.

[each week I will pick a local news story and cover it with my own opinion, the news article this blog is in relation to can be found here: http://goo.gl/QR8kbq ]