Tagged: Nottingham

Fighting back at home and at work: late January round-up

Cautiously pessimistic

Just a short post this time, I mainly wanted to share two stories.

First, from Nottingham, is the news that the second attempt at evicting the Crawfords has once again been blocked by a huge crowd of hundreds of people turning out to resist the bailiffs. It’s also interesting to note that the resistance seems to have been entirely organised outside of the existing left – as far as I can tell, as an outside observer, there seems to be a lot of Anonymous-type stuff and some “common law/Freeman of the land”-style rhetoric, but no union or political party branding.

The other news I’ve been most impressed by this week is an ongoing dispute in Sheffield over the sacking of a trans worker for using the “wrong” toilets. After Sheffield Industrial Workers of the World picketed Aviva, the story was picked up in the local press, and has…

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North East bus operators to introduce Oyster-style smart ticketing

North East bus passengers will soon be able to use Oyster-style tickets, travel operators have announced.

Britain’s biggest bus operators – including Newcastle-headquartered Go Ahead and Sunderland-based Arriva – have announced plans to launch London-style smart ticketing across England’s largest city regions.

The pledge by Stagecoach, First, Arriva, Go Ahead and National Express aims to deliver multi-operator smart ticketing to millions of bus customers across England next year.

Greater Manchester will be an early adopter of what is described as a “transformational initiative”, helping support the area’s wider growth plans.

The smart tickets will then be rolled out across Tyne and Wear, Merseyside, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire along with the city regions of Nottingham, Leicester and Bristol.

The bus providers have spent several months finalising their plans and this work has included liaising with IT suppliers and the Department for Transport.

The announcement comes two weeks after North East councils took a step towards seizing control of the bus services, in a major shake-up of public transport – a move bitterly opposed by the bus companies.

Members of the North East Combined Authority voted unanimously for the Quality Contract Scheme (QCS) for the Tyne and Wear area.

If passed by an independent review board the proposals will signal a new era of London-style bus services across the region, in which travellers carry a pass similar to the capital’s Oyster card and councils decide on fares and when and how often services run.The bus companies said their own plans represent a multi-million pound investment in what is the biggest smart ticketing project in the UK’s history.

The technology will allow smaller bus operators to be included and provide a platform to extend the system to other modes, such as trams and trains.

In a joint statement, Stagecoach Group chief executive Martin Griffiths, First Group chief executive Tim O’Toole, Go Ahead chief executive David Brown, Arriva chief executive David Martin and National Express chief executive Dean Finch said:

“Millions of people in our biggest city regions will benefit from this transformational initiative in London-style smart ticketing. It will deliver an even bigger programme and wider benefit than the capital’s Oyster system.

“Bus operators share the aspirations of our city regions to become growing economic powerhouses and we know high quality public transport is an important part of making that happen.”

Bus operators also urged central and local Government to work with them to improve bus services across the country.”

Source –  Newcastle Journal,  04 Nov 2014

Up To 40% Of Council Tax Levied On Low-Income Households Unpaid

This article was written by Randeep Ramesh, social affairs editor, for The Guardian on Wednesday 27th August 2014

Local authorities were unable to collect up to 40% of council tax due from low-income households that had the charge imposed on them for the first time last year.

Council tax – set on average at £5 a week – has been levied on the poorest households in England since April last year as part of a cut in benefits. But such is the squeeze on household budgets, say campaigners, that the poor cannot afford to pay even these small sums.

The result has been widespread non-payment. Nationally, more than a fifth of council tax charged to working-age claimants was unpaid at the end of 2013-14.

The figures, obtained from responses from 140 councils to Freedom of Information requests by the anti-cuts group False Economy, reveal that some of the biggest towns and cities were left chasing millions of pounds from the poor.

Liverpool collected 61% of council tax due from the poor, leaving the city short by £3.5m.

In Birmingham, the non-payment rate among the vulnerable was 30%, leaving the council seeking to recover £3m in lost revenue.

Leeds, Nottingham and Sheffield were all chasing more than £2m each in tax from those on the lowest incomes.

A report published last month by Child Poverty Action Group and the Zacchaeus 2000 Trust said almost 40% of Londoners affected by the cuts had been sent a court summons for council tax debts in 2013-14, with more than 15,000 claimants’ debts referred to bailiffs.

In Haringey, north London, which collected 80% of the council tax due from benefit claimants, hundreds of households have been taken to court to recover unpaid tax – with non-payers threatened with bankruptcy, repossession and ultimately prison.

Last week, sitting in the magistrates court in Tottenham, Dick, 49, said there was “no way” he could afford the £7-a-week council tax his housing association two-bedroom flat was being charged. He has walked with a stick since his Achilles tendon snapped in 2012.

I don’t work. I get employment support allowance which is £70 a week and my son lives with me and he gets a few hours on a market stall. After rent and everything else we have about £140 a month to live on. Food, clothes, the lot. I go down the food bank to eat. Can’t afford to heat up food because we cannot put money into the gas meter. How can I afford the council tax too? We never paid this before. It’s just getting the poor to pay up. That’s all it is.”

Dick said he had offered to pay £3 a week towards council tax after working out his finances with the local Citizens Advice bureau, but the local authority did not respond to his offer. Instead the council has asked for the full year’s council tax to be paid immediately – £350 – plus the cost of recovering his unpaid tax through a liability order of £125. “It’s ridiculous. I worked all my life. Never needed anything. Now I got nothing they want to get that.”

A spokesperson for False Economy called for the cuts to be reversed. “These figures show that people on low incomes are struggling to cope with council tax benefit cuts, just as the government was warned they would. Households are left either falling into debt and at risk of legal action, or taking money for food and essentials to plug the shortfall, in what is a government-created personal debt crisis.”

Councils said they were caught in an “impossible situation” as ministers had forced local authorities to pass on £500m in cuts when the scheme was introduced – and there would be further reductions in the discounts the poor received as town hall budgets were squeezed in the coming years.

Sharon Taylor, chair of the Local Government Association’s finance panel, said: “Councils would need to find £1bn by 2016 to protect discounts for those on low incomes.

“At a time when local government is already tackling £20bn worth of cuts, this is a stretch too far. Many councils have been put in an impossible position. No one wants to ask those on the lowest incomes to pay more. But pressure on funding for local services means many councils have had little choice but to reduce the discount.”

Hilary Benn, the shadow cabinet member responsible for local government, said two million of the poorest people were affected by the council tax hikes.

“These figures show that many of the people affected, including single parents and disabled people, are finding it very difficult to pay the Tories’ tax increase. The government was warned that this was going to be Poll Tax mark two, and so it is proving.”

The government defended its changes, saying it had “worked with councils to freeze council tax for the last four years” for most residents.

Kris Hopkins, the local government minister, said: “Our reforms to localise council tax support now give councils stronger incentives to support local firms, cut fraud, promote local enterprise and get people into work. We are ending Labour’s something-for-nothing culture and making work pay.”

Source –  Welfare News Service, 29 Aug 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/40-council-tax-levied-low-income-households-unpaid/

Queen’s Speech: David Cameron Has Failed Britain

By Jenny Howarth

Her Majesty the Queen has delivered the final speech at the opening of parliament before next year’s general election.   A speech that Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg described as ‘bold’.

In a joint statement issued alongside the Queen’s speech, the prime minister and his deputy said: [The coalition was] “still taking bold steps” [to] “take Britain forward to a brighter future”, adding:

 “We may be two parties, with two different philosophies but we understand one thing, countries rise when their people rise. So this Queen’s Speech is unashamedly pro-work, pro-business and pro-aspiration.”

Among the measures announced in the speech were:

  • A bill implementing reforms to annuities announced in March’s Budget. In future, people will not be required to buy an annuity with their pension savings and will be able to draw their retirement income in one go if they choose
  • A separate bill to allow employees to pay into collective pension funds shared with other workers, a move it is hoped will cut costs and encourage saving
  • A new state-funded childcare subsidy worth up to £2,000 a year, replacing the existing employer-funded scheme
  • A Social Action, Responsibility and Heroism bill offering extra legal protection for people being sued for negligence or breach of duty if they acted heroically or in the public interest
  • Curbs on “excessive redundancy payments” for highly-paid public servants
  • Tougher penalties for employers who fail to pay the minimum wage and a crackdown on the abuse of zero hours contracts
  • Plans for a 5p charge for plastic bags in England as announced at last year’s Lib Dem conference
  • Reforms to speed up infrastructure projects, including new freedoms for the Highways Agency and allowing fracking firms to run shale gas pipelines on private land without getting prior permission
  • New criminal sentences for those assisting organised crime syndicates, tougher sentence for cyber criminals and tougher powers to seize the assets of crime bosses – and making the possession of written paedophilia a criminal offence
  • A modern-day slavery bill with tougher penalties for human trafficking
  • Help for pub landlords including a statutory code and a body to adjudicate disputes
  • Giving voters the power to trigger by-elections where MPs have committed serious wrong-doing

With polls showing a Labour Party average lead of 6.6%, the speech, written for the Queen by her government highlights how out of touch and removed from reality the coalition government is. With Labour sources for the BBC saying it was “staggering” that the NHS and immigration were not mentioned in the Queen’s Speech.

You would assume that David Cameron would have ensured that this final speech would have contained elements to woo voters. But sadly, it has failed, just as Cameron and his coalition government has failed the people of Britain and here is why:

National Health Service (NHS)

This week in a letter to The Guardian, top health officials including Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents hospitals, and the chairs or chief executives of acute hospital trusts in London, Nottingham, Teeside, Kent, Sheffield, Oxford and elsewhere, warned that the NHS “is at the most challenged time of its existence.”

In a separate article, Rob Webster, speaking to The Telegraph, warned, that if “significant changes” were not made and the “decline” was to continue that:

  • Hospital patients would be forced to pay for their meals, bed and even for patient transport.
  • Swathes of the country would be left without a GP, because family doctors refuse to work in areas where they cannot keep up with demand.
  • Accident & Emergency departments would be increasingly shutting their doors without warning, because they are unable to cope.
  • Hospitals would go bust overnight because bills cannot be paid.
  • There would be Longer waits for surgery, and increasing numbers of cancelled operations.

With the NHS so critical, it is something that should have been addressed in today’s speech but it would appear that Cameron and his Health Secretary are more determined than ever to place the NHS in private hands.

Welfare

Work and Pension Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s (IDS) welfare reforms have been an unmitigated disaster.

His flagship Universal Credit Scheme has been beset with problems, with The Guardian reporting in May this year that The Major Projects Authority (MPA) – responsible for grading its implementation – has said that it has undergone so many fundamental changes that it is “reset” (gone back to drawing board).

In addition, Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) figures, also released in May showed that over half a million ESA claimants are still waiting for the results of their assessment.

Then there is the hated Spare-room subsidy (bedroom tax).   In a survey of 183 housing associations (HA), conducted by IPSOS Mori on behalf of the National Housing Federation in February this year, it was found that:

  • One in seven of those hit by the bedroom tax has now had a notice of seeking possession issued to them.
  • 66% of HA residents hit by the bedroom tax are in rent arrears
  • More than a third (38%) reported to be in debt because they were unable to pay the bedroom tax

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation said:

“If these notices of seeking possession turn into evictions it will be the direct responsibility of those who introduced a measure which is economically incoherent, socially divisive, disruptive of family life and causing real damage to real people. It really can’t be allowed to go on.”

The failure to address welfare reform in today’s speech would indicate that if the Conservatives were to win next year’s election then it is likely it will go on, inflicting more misery to more families.

 It is clear, that Cameron is not listening.   The recent local and European elections proved that the people of Britain are not happy.   Ed Miliband, picked up on this by saying ahead of today’s speech:

“The local and European elections show the depths of discontent with the direction of our country which people increasingly feel does not work for them.

“We need action, we need answers, we need a programme for government equal to the scale of the challenge our country faces.

“We would have a Queen’s Speech with legislation which would make work pay, reform our banks, freeze energy bills and build homes again in Britain.

“A Queen’s Speech which signals a new direction for Britain, not one which offers more of the same.”

So what would be in Labour’s first Queen’s speech if they were to win next year?

Mark Ferguson, writing for Labour List, has put together what he thinks would be in it, based on Labours plans so far:

Banking bill

A first year priority, that would mean breaking up banks to create competition in the banking sector – and reforms intended to boost lending and support small businesses.

Make Work Pay bill

Mark Ferguson acknowledges that this one still needs some detail adding to it, which he believes we should get in the months ahead. In short, this bill would see Labour legislating for a higher minimum wage (maybe even a statutory living wage?) and legislating on zero-hours contracts.

Housing bill

Currently Labour is talking about building 200,000 homes a year by 2020. For Mark Ferguson, that’s a little slow, believing that Labour should be aiming to build a million homes over the next parliament with the expectation for Miliband to upgrade Labour’s offer on housing before the election.

However, it is already pretty substantial, and this bill would act on land banks, legislate for new garden cities, crack down on fees for private sector tenants and provide more stable and secure long-term rents for those in the private rented sector.

Community bill

Nicknamed, the “taking back the high street” bill. This would give communities a say on payday lenders and betting shops on their high streets – thus reducing their volume and growth.

Immigration bill

Angela Eagle has stated that Labour would legislate on immigration. Such a bill would seek to stop workers being undercut and ban recruitment agencies from only recruiting from overseas.

A new Scotland bill 

This would  enshrine the recommendations of Scottish Labour’s Devolution Commission, introducing a form of “Devo-Max” – obviously this is in the event of a No vote in this year’s referendum.

Consumers’ bill

Or perhaps more accurately, the energy prices bill. Labour’s big energy price freeze pledge would be enacted in the first Queen’s Speech

Outlawing discrimination against armed forces bill

This would put discrimination against members of the armed forces on the same footing as other forms of discrimination.

Mark Ferguson, goes onto state the other priorities for Labour in the first year of the next parliament that don’t necessarily need primary legislation, but which would be mentioned in the Queen’s Speech. These include:

  • The jobs guarantee,
  • The return of the 50p Tax rate
  • The abolition of the Bedroom Tax.

Unlike Cameron and his Conservative Party, it is evident, although some may disagree, that Ed Miliband has thought through what the people of Britain need.

> More likely the thinks its the sort of thing people might vote for at this moment in time. Unfortunately, an increasing number of people believe that should Labour win the next election, it’d actually just be a case of neo-liberal policies as usual.

And In case you’re wondering where the NHS fits in, Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham has said today that it would be a “joyous moment, when next year, Her Majesty the Queen says: “My Government will repeal the Health & Social Care Act 2012″. Assuming of course that there will be a Labour victory.

With 336 days to go to the general election, the stakes have never been higher.   David Cameron has to start listening to the people of Britain, has to axe the bedroom tax, has to curb welfare reform and stop privatizing the NHS.   Failure to do so will mean he will be out of a job – not only as prime minister but also as leader of the Conservatives.

Source – Welfare News Service, 04 June 2014

http://welfarenewsservice.com/david-cameron-has-failed-britain/

 

Miners’ Strike Film – Still the Enemy Within

Still the Enemy Within is a unique insight into one of Britain’s most dramatic struggles, the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike. No experts. No politicians. Thirty years on, this is the raw first-hand experience of those who lived through the UK’s longest strike. Follow the highs and lows of that life-changing year.

In 1984, a conservative government under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher declared war on the unions, taking on the strongest in the country, the National Union of Mineworkers. Following a secret plan, the government began announcing the closure of coal mines, threatening not just an industry but whole communities and a way of life.

Against all the forces the government could throw at them, 160 000 coal miners took up the fight and became part of a battle that would change the course of history.

Still the Enemy Within tells the story of a group of miners and supporters who were on the frontline of the strike for an entire year. These are the people that the media dubbed ‘Arthur’s Army’ and who Margaret Thatcher called ‘the Enemy Within’. Many of them have never spoken on camera before.

Using interviews and a wealth of rare and never before seen archive, Still the Enemy Within draws together personal experiences – whether they’re tragic, funny or terrifying – to tell the story of the key moments in the strike. It puts the viewer right at the centre of events.

Follow Norman Strike, from devising ingenious ways of getting past police road blocks in a key battleground, Nottingham, to suddenly finding himself a minor celebrity after a mishap on national television; Paul Symonds, from the optimism and excitement of a young man fighting for his future to the tragic death of his best friend on a picket line; Joyce Sheppard, from her life as an ordinary housewife to becoming a political activist and facing violence as huge numbers of police are sent in to Yorkshire villages to break the strike.

They, along with a range of voices from across the country, give a frank, emotional and ultimately inspiring account of ordinary people at the centre of extraordinary events.

From the infamous Battle of Orgreave, where miners found themselves in a brutal confrontation with over five thousand police, to the hardship endured after almost a year on strike – their story is not just one of personal drama but one that raises questions about the very nature of British society.

Still the Enemy Within shatters the mainstream narrative of the Miners’ Strike. It challenges us to look again at Britain’s past and how it shaped the world today, so that in the words of Yorkshire miner Steve Hammil, “we can still seek to do something about the future”.

The film will premiere at the Sheffield Documentary Festival 2014 in June, followed by a screening on the weekend on the Durham Miners Gala, 13th July  in the Miners Hall at Redhill, Durham City.

More info –  http://the-enemy-within.org.uk/

Newcastle City Council leader tells MPs to give big cities more freedom

Letting Britain’s big cities develop their economies could save Britain from future economic downturns, the leader of Newcastle City Council has told MPs.

Coun Nick Forbes said the economic crash was partly due to the nation’s dependence on London, and its banking industry.

But a country with a more diverse economy and a number of successful cities would be better able to cope if there was another crisis.

Coun Forbes told the Commons Local Government Committee that major cities such as Newcastle should be able to raise far more funding locally, for example by keeping a portion of the business rates paid by employers rather than handing the entire sum to the Treasury – and use the cash to promote economic growth. But he warned there also needed to a complete rethink of the way national government redistributed cash to local authorities, so that councils with the greatest need – such as those in the North East – received more money to let them provide essential services.

Newcastle recently cut spending by £35m on top of previous cuts.

The council leader was at Westminster representing the eight “core cities” of Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. He said: “At the moment we have been absolutely ravaged by the recession.”

What Newcastle wanted was the ability to grow its own local economy rather than relying on handouts from London, he said – and argued this would make the entire UK economy more “resilient”.

“We have seen how London-centric the recession was. It was the collapse of the banking system that tipped us over the edge into it. We wouldn’t have that if we had a better settlement around the rest of the country.”

Newcastle was already proving what it could achieve with more independence by using a scheme called Tax Increment Financing, which allows it to invest cash collected from business rates in regeneration projects to attract new businesses, he said.

“We have managed to stimulate development activities on a number of key sites in the city which wouldn’t have happened otherwise but at he moment those powers are exceptions rather than a rule.

“We could do so much more as a country and as cities.”

And he urged the Committee to recommend that councils be given more powers to cut business rates and attract employers that way.

“I can see areas of Newcastle . . where you might want to give us a discount that would allow the introduction of new businesses.”

> No mention of Scottish independence, but I’m sure there will be proponents of it north of the border watching this with interest…

Source – Newcastle Journal,  11 March 2014

State Corruption – The Biggest Threat to Our Liberties

Why It’s Now So Dangerous to Protest by Alison Banville (BSNews Editor)

In early 2011 I wrote a piece for the New Statesman about Mark Kennedy, the undercover policeman who had infiltrated an environmental group even forming a relationship with a female member. I addressed the question some had asked – why would so much time and effort be spent on a bunch of ‘tree-huggers’?:

‘All long-term campaigners on a range of issues – from the environment to the arms trade to animal rights – know, and have known since they began protesting, that the police are not the neutral body they pretend to be, but act on behalf of powerful vested interests: the corporations whose profits they defend and the government that is in bed with those corporations.’

This is the crux of the matter: profits. Nothing can be allowed to threaten them, not least peaceful people who simply want a just world and who are providing ordinary folk with the dangerous example of a life not ruled by the Holy Commandments of ‘consume, comply, conform’. That is why the gentle ‘tree-hugger’ is considered an enemy of the state, and will be treated as such. The state will also employ any and all measures to ensure that peaceful and LEGAL protest becomes a move too costly for any ethically minded person to contemplate.

Below I present the case that the UK government, in collusion with the criminal justice system and the police, has already embarked upon a deeply corrupt, systematic campaign to ensure that eco-activists (and animal rights/arms trade  activists etc) will be too fearful to claim even their most basic civil liberties for fear of the dire consequences others have already experienced:

The case of undercover cop Mark Kennedy’s infiltration of an environmental campaign group has led commentators, including myself, to highlight the worrying way in which the police appear to be defending corporate interests rather than the public’s.

As George Monbiot points out the role of ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers, in running the National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU), which managed Kennedy, should be scrutinized, especially in light of the fact that the former operates as a private limited company so that it is not accountable in any meaningful, democratic way.

It is right that we should question the apparent use of our police as a private protection force for corporations, but there is one sinister development that has been missed in this debate, and that is the subversion of the law in order to specifically convict campaigners participating in activities which threaten corporate profits. What is this subversion? It is the use of the charge of ‘conspiracy’.

Monbiot unwittingly touched on this when he mentioned that twenty of the people Kennedy reported on to his superiors were ‘convicted on the desperate charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass.’ But George was mistaken in thinking that this was simply the result of the police and Crown scrabbling around for any old charge that would secure a guilty verdict – that would have been bad enough. No. This was, in fact, part of a very deliberate and traceable strategy that has been used in recent years to deal with ‘problem’ movements of which this was just the latest example. The ‘conspiracy’ tactic is a weapon, sharpened and wielded in order to weaken those groups most effective in challenging powerful corporations. And what’s more, it has been used successfully against perfectly peaceful campaigners:

Sean Kirtley was jailed for four and a half years in 2008 on a conspiracy charge. He was part of an anti-vivisection campaign against animal research company Sequani. Sean carried out no violent act; he used no intimidation; it was never suggested that he had conducted himself in anything other than a completely peaceful manner at all times and, as far as Sean was aware, he had kept scrupulously within the law. But because he had updated a website with perfectly legal information, and because he had attended wholly legal demonstrations he was convicted of ‘conspiracy to interfere with the contractual relations of an animal research facility’ under Section 145 of the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act (SOCPA). Is that clear? – it was possible in this country for someone who hadn’t actually behaved illegally to be imprisoned for years because his lawful behaviour amounted to a ‘conspiracy’. Ingenious!

There was no outcry about Sean’s sentence because a reporting ban was slapped on the trial – and even if publicity had been allowed well, he’s just one of those ‘extremists’ isn’t he? To hell with justice. During the trial ‘evidence’ was presented to show how Sean and his co-defendants (all of whom were acquitted) had planned (legal) protests – the very act of planning to demonstrate being portrayed as somehow illegal. In fact, a host of totally lawful behaviour was offered to the jury as evidence of conspiracy.

Thankfully, after a campaign to free him, Sean’s sentence was overturned on appeal but he had already lost a year and a half of his life. After release, he reflected on the conspiracy charge saying, ‘the final nail that was hammered into the prosecution’s ‘argument’ was when they could not name anybody that I was supposed to have conspired with, so my conviction was quashed there and then….I did often ponder in those small hours in my various cells in various prisons who I may have conspired with – Jesus? The Holy Ghost? Superman?’

We might also reflect for a moment on the mindset of those who were happy to see Sean rot in jail for four and a half long years.

Footage of people at various legal protests has also been used in other cases to accuse them of being ‘lead conspirators’. In this way, it becomes dangerous to engage in lawful protest for fear of being convicted – which is exactly the point. Because to stifle dissent is the overarching aim here while police and politicians pose as neutral supporters of the right to protest. This is why in the recently collapsed Ratcliffe Power Station case the authorities waited to arrest 114 people in a Nottingham school when they had Kennedy’s information (him being a major architect of the plan) much earlier. Far better to deter a large group from political action than just a few.

Danny Chivers, one of the defendants confirms this  also pointing out it was ‘the biggest pre-emptive environmental protest arrest in British history, and the starting point for a truly bizarre sequence of events involving a ‘conspiracy to commit trespass’’.

Here he nails the importance of the conspiracy aspect adding that ‘while Aggravated Trespass is a minor crime normally dealt with by a magistrate, anything involving Conspiracy has to go in front of a jury at the Crown Court’. This is the appeal of the charge for those employing it – it not only requires that no discernable offence actually be committed, it ensures a longer sentence which, in turn, acts as a deterrent. For the corrupt state fearful of the power of direct action – what’s not to like?

Chivers gives mention too to the draconian bail conditions given to those arrested preventing them from engaging in any LEGAL activities related to their cause. Again, this reflects the tactics tried and tested first on the animal rights movement, and this is significant because the thorough demonization of this latter group has meant there has been a fatal lack of scrutiny of its treatment at the hands of the police and justice system which has allowed individuals such as Kirtley to suffer serious miscarriages of justice. Crucially, it has also emboldened the police in their efforts to apply these same corrupt methods to the environmental movement because, in the eyes of the authorities, the two pose exactly the same threat. To misquote Martin Niemoller’s famous verse:

‘first they came for the animal activists…..’

The gullibility of the public on this issue must be replaced with a vigilance determined to protect the rights of every fellow citizen. Justice is for everyone or it ceases to exist and only an alert and watchful people can protect it, as John Adams knew when he said that ‘liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.’

Because the truth is, a covert game is being played with protest groups in this country which requires that the general population (and media) readily believe the propaganda of establishment voices. This game has absolutely nothing to do with protecting the public and everything to do with protecting corporate profits. It must be exposed because those who are happy to see our legal system subverted and fundamental liberties sacrificed are the real danger to any free and civilised society. And that’s no conspiracy theory.

Source – BS News  18 Feb 2014

http://bsnews.info/state-corruption-biggest-threat-liberties/

Sunderland has lowest number of businesses of any UK city

Sunderland has the lowest number of businesses out of any city in the UK, according to the latest report from think tank Centre for Cities.

Authors of the annual ‘health check’ of UK cities for 2014 also found Sunderland had the slowest-growing population, and was second bottom for business start ups.

The central spine of the report was the trend which showed the economic gap is widening between London and other cities.

Highlighting Sunderland, the report’s authors also listed Newcastle and Middlesbrough in the bottom ten cities for businesses in the UK.

The report also found there almost 10 times more jobs being created in the capital than the next best area.

Centre for Cities research revealed that London accounted for 80 per cent of national private sector employment growth between 2010 and 2012.

For every public sector job created in the capital, two have been lost in other cities, the study found.

While London is “booming”, cities such as Bradford, Blackpool and Glasgow have seen jobs lost in private and public sectors, said the report.

There has also been a significant number of jobs created in private firms in Edinburgh, Birmingham and Liverpool which have helped offset the impact of public sector job cuts.

In the two years to 2012 there were 216,000 private sector and 66,300 public sector jobs created in London, compared with losses of 7,800 and 6,800 in Glasgow, said Centre for Cities.

Other cities where jobs have been created in private companies included Nottingham (8,900), Brighton (6,400) and Aberdeen (4,900), but they were all hit by cuts in public sector employment.

The report said: “London remains the UK’s economic power house and is pivotal to the UK’s future success.”

Alexandra Jones, chief executive of Centre for Cities, said: “The gap between London and other UK cities is widening and we are failing to make the most of cities’ economic potential.

“Devolving more funding and powers to UK cities so they can generate more of their own income and play to their different strengths will be critical to ensuring this is a sustainable, job-rich recovery.”

Sunderland Echo, 27 January 2014