Northampton’s Road To Nowhere

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Take a walk through my town
Down the dark and dirty paths
We got no money for street lights
There are no wages for street cleaners
Peer from the lofty lift tower heights
Drink in the run down derelict sights
Hear the dereliction of council duty
Drunk on their neoliberal counsel booty
We have been cut raw to the bone
Dying homeless on the streets alone
Where is the council’s ghost at the feast
Playing host to our very own beast
Draining the lifeblood of our town
We have even been abandoned by the clown
Society now secondary to loan repayments
Who gives a fuck about benefit claimants?
Tear the bus stop down one won’t be soon
Expect one along once in a blue moon
Repeat to me we are all in this together
While I freeze to death in the cold weather
These fair weather friends provide no service
Do they forget they are suppose to serve us!

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Depression Path

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Losing interest in your interests
It’s a warning sign you no longer feel fine
Empty and numb got you feeling dumb
Depression may have you under the thumb

Self hating continually cries out in the night
Dabble in drink and drugs with silent shrugs
Self medicating trying to keep it out of sight
Struggles the morning after the night before
Depression can rip you apart to the core

Hopelessness and despair no surprise life isn’t fair
It gets even worse when you no longer care
But dare to go outside find someone to confide
Lack of confidence have you trying to hide
You probably have depression by your side

Suicidal spikes penetrating your thoughts
Every action you take feels for nought
Lonely mirror hanging upon my wall
Why is it that I constantly feel so small
Depression it can be oh so cruel

No need to suffocate in silence
It doesn’t make you feeble or weak
You are not meek it is a evil streak
Seek help and stand tall in defiance
Depression can be defeated if it’s treated

Should the homeless pay? Open letter to the Hope Centre.

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On the 24th of July the CEO of the Hope Centre wrote on his blog an article entitled: “Why Hope charges for items like food and clothes.” In this article the CEO seeks to justify charging for these items, as well as selling donations on eBay and furthermore attacks organisations that give away things for free. You can find the full blog here: http://www.northamptonhopecentre.org.uk/sites/default/files/717%20CEO%20Blog.pdf

To sum up their strategy and their justification, they seek to impoverish the homeless in order to stop them buying drugs. Their reasoning is if they are spending money in the Hope Centre, they are not spending it on alcohol or drugs. That is clearly a win for the Hope Centre, after all they get to keep their users dependant on them while also being provided with a steady stream of income.

Is that an effective strategy to tackle drug and alcohol dependency among the homeless? Anyone who understands the nature of addiction would know that it comes first, food comes second. Going hungry to feed your addiction is always an option and If you have used all your money that you would spend on drugs or alcohol, what then? Well you do whatever it takes to get more, beg, steal, borrow and if you’re a woman that likely means prostitution.

Thus it doesn’t make much sense when they say they don’t want to ‘collude’ with drug and alcohol users, because if anything you are making the situation more hopeless for these people. Forcing them to do unsavoury things to maintain these addictions, while putting the blame on to them. It implies homelessness and their addiction is of their own choosing. If only they were a little bit better at handling their money they wouldn’t be homeless or addicts – this is the wrong mindset any organisation should adopt that seeks to engage and help the homeless.

Money is not a cause of addiction, that being the case taking it away from them isn’t going to solve the problem. Yes you may make it a tiny bit harder for them to get drink or drugs, and of course you would make them suffer more, or force them to take more drastic measures in order to access drink and drugs. But at the end of the day, unless they get the support they need, they are still going to be addicts.

For your reference here is a list of common reasons for substance abuse

  • Peer pressure
  • Boredom
  • As a way to deal with stress
  • Growing up in a home where alcohol and drug abuse is considered normal
  • behaviour
  • Self-medication to deal with mental illness
  • Relationship problems
  • Financial worries
  • Loss of a loved one
  • Those with low self-esteem may abuse substances in order to boost confidence
  • Substance abuse as part of a personality disorder
  • Teenage rebellion
  • To promote relaxation
  • To forget a normal life

You will notice that financial worries is one, so that being the case how does increasing the financial burden on your users, solve drug and alcohol addiction? If you are interested in understanding the causes of addiction, then please check out: http://alcoholrehab.com/drug-addiction/reasons-for-substance-abuse/

They also believe that charging for their service gives their users a level of responsibility – but clearly they are not responsible enough to have money. This point is contradictory, you say you want to give responsibility to these people, while at the same time saying they are not responsible enough to be trusted.

This of course generalises the homeless, while it is true that there are drug and alcohol problems within these communities, it doesn’t apply to all. With one of the primary factors for the abuse being the environment they find themselves in, that being the case I would like to know what body of evidence you are using in order to support this strategy.

You round off your argument by presenting an economic case for charging for your service, yet out of your 90k profits last year, you only made 7k from the canteen. Clearly you are not treading water to the point that providing these services for free would have a major impact on your operation.

Let’s look at the way you use donations – you like to sell them on Ebay in order to maximise profit, that is a very sound business approach but there are a few ethical concerns here. Are the people donating these items in good faith doing so on the understanding they are going to your users, and not on eBay? If so, then you are taking these things under false pretences. You sell off all the best stock, so why can’t a homeless person wear Prada or Gucci? You imply that homeless people shouldn’t be allowed to wear nice things.

That is a strange approach when you talk about giving them responsibility, having respect for yourself, having the opportunity to wear nice clothes – these things can make peoples day. If you don’t think they’re good enough to wear nice clothes, why should they think they are worth anything?

Finally you suggest that they can be choosy with their food, that they’re throwing their food away because they can go around the food banks. It’s a very shocking accusation, hunger is a very real problem for those on the street, and having access to basic food stuffs is a struggle. Yet the way you frame it, they are living the high life on free food. I’ve never witnessed a homeless banquet, and if like you say they are just throwing away the food they don’t like, wouldn’t they trade it, or sell it on? It’s nonsensical, and I’m sceptical of the proof that you have, outside of anecdotal evidence.

Is the strategy for change a positive one?

Having dealt with the fact money is not a primary motivator for drug and alcohol abuse, let’s examine the wider strategy. Firstly, I think it is extremely crass of you to use the recent tragic death of one of your users in to this argument, it is impossible to know if it was a cause and you use it to get emotive support.

So putting that to one side, let’s look at the issue here – is it wrong to give free things to the homeless community? I can turn this on its head and say is it right to financially benefit off the homeless community, because that is what charging them is doing – exploiting them. They have no where else to turn, they have very little and they are dependant on these services for help. Is taking their benefits, or their begging money away from them then going to help them get into a home, get off the streets and get the help they need? Unlikely, but it will continue to perpetuate a cycle of homelessness by keeping these people operating below the breadline.

If you are about change like you say you are I suggest you do something radical and innovative, instead of taking us back decades if not centuries on how we view and tackle the problems of homelessness and addiction.

For example

  • For the homelessness to have elected representation on the Hope Centre Board
  • For the service users of the Hope Centre to have a greater say in how the organisation operates, and greater control over the running of the centre
  • Draw up an inclusive strategy with the aid of the people you are seeking to help
  • Use a multi-agency response, instead of seeking to attack other organisations seeking to help the homeless – work in partnership with them.

I urge you to change the course of your organisation, I urge you to think about the language you are using, and the attitude you are adopting. Wouldn’t a better way to tackle homelessness be providing a supportive environment that helps tackle the underlying problems of these addictions? One that doesn’t judge these people for their problems, but seeks to engage with them and support them. With homelessness increasing in the town there is clearly a flaw in your strategy, so next time think, because there is another way.

Signed
Stephen Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

County Council: Death By A Thousand Cuts

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Lingchi was an an ancient Chinese torture method which is more widely known in the west as death by a thousand cuts, a torture method this council seems to have adopted as its model for local government policy.

Make no mistake that sooner or later people will die because of the butchering of our local services, make no mistake that people are already suffering under the brunt of the county councils new torture regime.

This is an ideological restructuring of local government, the Tories have already committed themselves to destroying the state on a national level, and now their cronies at a local level are going full steam ahead with this ideological mission in their destruction of local services.

Removing lifelines for some and completely changing the face of our local services, is of course spruced up with fancy words like “efficiency savings” but regardless of what words they use to make these cuts more palatable it will never disguise them from the cold hard reality, and when reality bites believe me people will be angry.

Earlier this year the County Council agreed to outsource all its services, and now it is going to be cutting a further £77 million from its budget, no doubt they love to gamble with the future of our town, sadly the only losers in this will be us, the people of Northampton.

As it was reported the budget “Proposals include a reduction in children’s centre services, a reduction in funds for the fire service and highways maintenance, a cut in the subsidies given to the bus services, the cessation of Nourish school meals service and decommissioning two care homes run by Olympus Care Services.”

Just how much more do they think the people can take? Just how much more of this burden do we have to shoulder? We were never responsible for the recession, yet time and again we are the ones footing the bill.

These cuts, like the cuts at national level are being billed as the only way, that there is no alternative, but this is pure political posturing, there is always an alternative. When these cuts continue to hammer home just keep one thing in mind, there is but one group of people to blame for them; The Conservative Party.

We are now locked into a race to the bottom, and who knows where it will end? No support for young people, no care for the elderly? Just how far are they willing to fall, and how much suffering are we going to have to endure?

Instead of a council with a commitment to slash and burn, how great would it be to have a council committed to helping the people? To homing the homeless, to protecting those that need it, to investing in the future of the town.

Because that is the alternative, investment, investing in the future instead of planting the seeds of this towns suffering, creating revenue outside of tax. We are expected to believe that outsourcing and businesses (which we will be paying to carry out these services), will be more efficient.

Well why is that the case? Instead of throwing money at private companies (making them very rich), surely the brilliant minds in government can operate these things as good, if not better. Instead of them being operated for the profit of private companies they should and could be operated for the improvement of the town, for the benefit of the people.

The governments in post war Britain recognised this, that is how they dug their way out of a 200% deficit, through investment, through public ownership, and ultimately through a commitment to helping people, instead of cutting them piece meal.

Just how much more can the council take? How much more can we take?

What are your views on the cuts? Are you afraid of the future? Let me know in the comments.

Northampton Council – Poverty not Politics.

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You should be angry, you should be blood boiling red mist descending mad because of your council, they have shown us just how much contempt we are held in by the ruling Conservatives.

What controversial issue am I talking about? What hot-topic must I be approaching? Why the very controversial issue of child poverty, you know that controversial debate we all have over whether we think it needs to be stopped or not? No me neither.

We (well you, I would rather die than vote Conservative because it is a death sentence in it self) have to shoulder some of the blame, we returned not only a Conservative party nationally but also locally.

It really says something when you not only have a national government but a local one that doesn’t seem to think ending poverty is an issue that needs addressing. Putting aside the destructive and death sentence policies being enacted at a national level, our local representatives have gone full throttle on it too.

It really says something about the sadistic and ugly character that they must have if they seem to think it is ok that a child goes to bed at night hungry, it really says something about their nature if they do not give a shit that we are struggling to survive, getting thrown on the streets and where does that end?

It is like they just want us to roll over and die, at least that way their poverty figures would go down right? If all the poor people just jolly well went and died. It sickens me that these people make decisions over our lives, because they clearly do not give a shit what happens to us.

You might be reading this thinking “well I don’t give a monkeys, poverty doesn’t effect me” – Well it does, we all breath the same air, inhabit the same space, we all have to walk past each other on the street. You cannot hide from the many faces of poverty, it is that widespread that soon you won’t even be able to walk on by blissfully ignoring the deprived state of your fellow human beings.

You can try and shift the blame onto others, you can say it is the people in poverties fault that they are in that position (god the media like you to think that way, don’t they?). It still doesn’t change the fact that we live in a thing called society, and supposedly we live in a civilised one at that, so whether you like it or not the ugly hydra of poverty will sooner or later come back to bite you.

The ruling conservative council seem to think tackling poverty is a “political football” and that they are already doing enough to stem the rising tide of deprivation and starvation which is growing like a cancer within our communities.

We live in a county where poverty is on the rise, where 1 in 4 children live below the poverty line. What upside down logic brings you to the conclusion that if something is getting worse, you are doing enough?

The ruling council are either incompetent, lying or do not give a shit that it is happening – because if poverty is RISING whatever they are doing clearly is not WORKING.

Write an angry letter (best British way of dissent), go out on the street and let your anger known to your councillors. DO NOT STAY SILENT ANY LONGER, they take our silence for compliance and we cannot take this lying down. Get out on the streets, do some actions, create a community network and take our future into our own hands because left in theirs we may as well be signing our own death warrants.

Sally Keeble – Principles over Pounds

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This week we have heard how Sally Keeble turned down a nice little one thousand pound gift from ex-pm Tony Blair, though not the only one to turn down the money, we would be fooling ourselves if we thought this had anything to do with a principled stance of the ex-pm.

Sally Keeble was elected in 1997 alongside 101 women that were effectionally known as the Blair babes, and throughout Mr.Blairs government a staunch ally, as her voting record shows. She only voted against the Blair government a handful of times. You can find Sally’s voting record here: http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpn=Sally_Keeble&mpc=Northampton_North

Her Blairite credentials go even deeper than this, when she started throwing punches at the new PM Gordon Brown, sticking the knife into him only 18 months after he became PM. As we now know there was a legendary feud between Blair and Brown, so it doesn’t take genius to work out which side of the fence she sat on.

Sally voted for the war in Iraq, so it makes no sense for her turning the money down over that, so what other reasons does she have for saying no? Maybe, a political stunt in order to try and distance herself from a government she was in bed with.

It would be unfair of me to not say why Sally Keeble herself told us she turned down the money, it was because:“I actually believe that British Politics, and particularly at election time, should be funded very clearly by British money.”

Her refusal then serves two purposes, it is a rather obvious attempt to distance herself from brand Blair, and a more subtle attempt to appear nationalistic to try and poach some UKIP voters.

So there you have it according to Sally, British elections need to be fought with “British money”, we can assume she only wants British people being members of the Labour party in Northampton, not to mention the Trade Unions, hopefully she will vote against and fight against any donations from multinational corporations to the Labour party (like hell she will).

This is far from being some kind of grand gesture or some kind of principled stance, Tony Blair could keep his money because Sally already has his principles. Hopefully the people of Northampton won’t be fooled by this shameful and spineless ploy, Sally was at the time and still is a shameless Blairite.

[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://www.northampton-news-hp.co.uk/8203-Northampton-Labour-candidate-rejects-1-000/story-26138966-detail/story.html ]

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 ]