Tagged: St James’ Park

Newcastle Unites against Pegida demonstration backed by unions from across the country

Unions across the region are joining forces in protest against the controversial anti-Islamic demonstration set to take place in Newcastle next week.

German right wing group Pediga plans to hold a demonstration on Saturday in the city’s Bigg Market.

But opposition Newcastle Unites plans a counter march beginning at Gallowgate and heading to Newgate Street.

Comedian and activist Russell Brand and Respect MP George Galloway have pledged their support to the anti-facist group.

Dozens of groups from across the region are backing Newcastle Unites, and organisers are now asking all unions across the country to strengthen their cause.

Newcastle councillor Dipu Ahad said:

“I urge all the unions in the country, to unite and support Newcastle Unites Against Pegida.

“I urge you all, who want to see a better future for our children, where we can coexist in peace, no matter what our race or religion. Let us start today, and not tomorrow as each and everyone of us has got a responsibility as humans.

“Our unity is our strength, and together we can eradicate all types of hate, no matter what.

“Too many times we focus on what divides us, which diverts the real issues. We’ve got a responsibility to combat evil, so I urge you all to stand up and be counted.”

The councillor said many groups had come forward voluntarily to support Newcastle Unites.

Just days ago Pegida were told by Newcastle United fans: “We’re black and white”.

The demonstration is planned for the same day as Newcastle face Aston Villa at St James Park, and NUFC Fans United put out the defiant message on their website which reads:

“There is a fear that Newcastle United supporters who are of the Islamic faith or origin may be singled out for abuse by this group and we say that the authorities cannot allow any of our community, whatever their race, creed or religious belief to be treated in such a manner in our city on match day or any other day.

“As Supporters of Newcastle United we are asking what kind of message is such a rally sending to players such as Papiss Cissé, Mehdi Abeid, Cheik Tiote and Moussa Sissoko as well as to our wider Muslim community? Remember, we are black and white; we are UNITED.”

A heavier-than usual police presence is expected on the day of the two marches.

Newcastle Chief Supt Laura Young said:

“We have met with representatives from both of the organisations and have agreed on plans for their demonstrations.

“The organisers from both groups have assured us they do not want any trouble and their intention is to hold peaceful protests before moving on and we will act in a neutral capacity to facilitate this.

“People often ask why we can’t ban protests. Police forces do not have the power to ban a protest or the right to peaceful assembly. This is a fundamental democratic right and is laid down in the European Convention of Human Rights.

“On occasions we can insist on certain conditions being applied to ensure we preserve public safety, prevent crime, serious disorder and serious damage and protect the rights of others.

“Our priority is ensuring public safety and minimum disruption to the local community.”

Newcastle Unites against Pegida supporters so far are:

• The Durham General Branch of the GMB

• Northern Cultural Projects CIC

• The Durham Miners Association

• The County Durham Trades Council

• Northumberland County Unison

• The Newcastle Hindu Temple

• Islamic Diversity Centre(IDC)

• Spice FM

• Show Racism The Red Card

• Durham UAF

• County Durham Unites Against Racism

• Newcastle Council of Faiths

• North East People’s Assembly

• Newcastle Stop The War Coalition

• Northumberland County Unison

• UAF North East

• Sunderland Anti-Fascist Coalition

• West End Housing Co-operative in Newcastle

• TWAFA

• Unite Against Fascism

• Stand up to UKIP

• 5Pillars

• Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service(NCVS)

• Jude Kirton Darling MEP

• Julie Ward MEP

• Lord Beecham

• Comedian and activist Russell Brand

• Journalist and activist Yvonne Ridley

• Dave Anderson MP

• Chi Onwurah MP

• Davy Hopper (General Secretary of Durham Miners Association)

• Palestine Solidarity Campaign Fife

• Sunderland Together

• NUFC Fans United

• PCS Northern

• Bakers Union

• Tyneside Irish Centre

• Unite The Union

• Gateshead Unison

• Unison Northern Region

• TUC Northern Regional

• Newcastle Central Constituency Labour Party

• North East Greens

• Tyneside SWP

Source –  Sunday Sun,  22 Feb 2015

Newcastle United fans hit out at far right group Pegida

Concerned Toon fans have sent out a message to anti-Islamic extremists planning a controversial march in Newcastle on a match day telling them to “Remember we are black and white; we are united.”

NUFC Fans United have put out the message on their website after the demonstration was announced by far right German group Pegida in the city centre on Saturday, February 28 – when Newcastle take on Aston Villa at St James’ Park.

The statement reads:

“The purpose of this notice is to bring to the attention the serious concerns of many Newcastle United supporters that have contacted us regarding the proposed Pediga anti Islam rally being planned in our city on 28th February and the subsequent and inevitable counter demonstration that will ensue.

“The aim of the rally seems to be to protest against what they (Pediga) perceive as an Islamification of Britain. The concerns being voiced are multiple but primarily they centre around the fact that firstly this Far Right German movement have chosen the city of Newcastle upon Tyne; a city famous for its tolerance, integration and warmth of spirit to hold their rally and secondly the fact that the rally is planned for somewhere in the city centre on a match day, (when we entertain Aston Villa) and the possibility for conflict that it might bring to our wonderfully diverse and glorious city, when bigotry and intolerance replaces match day euphoria.

“There is a fear that Newcastle United supporters who are of the Islamic faith or origin may be singled out for abuse by this group and we say that the authorities cannot allow any of our community, whatever their race, creed or religious belief to be treated in such a manner in our city on match day or any other day.

“As Supporters of Newcastle United we are asking what kind of message is such a rally sending to players such as Papiss Cissé, Mehdi Abeid, Cheik Tiote and Moussa Sissoko as well as to our wider Muslim community. What kind of message does it send to those who come to study in our colleges and universities, or who visit as tourists to wonder on the splendour of our heritage history? What message does it send to those who may be offered the opportunity in the future to come and work in a city that has prided itself on its warm welcome but will now be tarred with being a city that allowed itself to be associated with those of the German Far Right. Is this the message we want our city to be remembered by and tarnished with?

“If your answer is NO then please join us in ensuring that as strong a message as possible is sent out by the widest section of our Tyneside community as possible to say that this rally is unacceptable, uncalled for and not welcome on the streets of Newcastle. With the support of all like minded football supporters we hope we can all openly bring pressure to bear on the authorities and add to the pressure already being placed by other like minded groups to refuse this group the oxygen of publicity, not least because of the nature of its being but also because of the risk of conflict between football supporters on match day and those who wish to come to our city and besmirch its reputation.

“Remember, we are black and white; we are UNITED.”

Comedian Russell Brand has pledged to march against Pegida in Newcastle.

The political activist and stand up accepted an invitation by Newcastle councillor Dipu Ahad to stand shoulder to shoulder against the “anti Islam” march.

He told Ahad, who is a key figure in Newcastle’s Muslim community, he’d be at the march after the councillor contacted him on Twitter.

The march will be the German anti-Islamic group’s first in the UK.

The counter demonstration will be attended by Respect MP George Galloway, among others.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  19 Feb 2015

‘Devastating’ number of North East people on zero-hours contracts

A “devastating” number of North East people are struggling to get by on a zero hours contract, a union has warned.

The TUC has published report which estimates there are 52,000 people – enough to fill Newcastle United’s home ground St James’ Park – in the region employed on the controversial contracts, something it says is “deeply damaging for society”.

The study, called The Decent Jobs Deficit, also reveals those on the casual contracts are earning around £300-a-week less than those on a permanent contract.

The report shows average weekly earnings for zero-hours workers are just £188, compared to £479 for permanent workers.

The research also reveals that zero-hours workers are five times more likely not to qualify for sick pay as a result of their lower wages.

The TUC says 39% of zero-hours workers earn less than £111-a-week – the qualifying threshold for statutory sick pay – compared to 8% of permanent employees.

Beth Farhat, Regional Secretary of the Northern TUC, said:

We estimate over 52,000 North East workers are employed on zero hour contracts which is a devastating number of people experiencing insecurity, and lack of basic workplace rights such as sick pay.

“Research from our region shows that this type of work can be disastrous for family relationships as it increases pressure on people often in quite desperate situations with no alternative.

“Such exploitation by employers is deeply damaging to society and for the economy since insecure work limits access to basic goods and services such as renting a flat.

“The Coalition might claim we’re in recovery but one reason why income tax revenues are down last year is because too many new jobs are low paid, insecure and with insufficient hours. We need a strategy for decent jobs with fair pay and an alternative to exploitative zero hours contracts offering people rights and respect.”

The report comes as the TUC begins a week of campaigning.

A quarter of zero-hours workers work a full-time week and one in four (23%) work over 35 hours a week, compared to two-thirds (60%) of other employees.

One in three report having no regular amount of income and were nearly five times as likely to have differing amounts of weekly pay compared to staff with other kinds of work arrangements.

The report also reveals women on zero-hours contracts don’t make as much as their male counterparts, earning £32-a-week less, on average, than men employed on the same kind of contracts.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“The growth of zero-hours contracts, along with other forms of precarious employment, is one of the main reasons why working people have seen their living standards worsen significantly in recent years.

“It is shocking that so many workers employed on these kind of contracts are on poverty pay and miss out on things that most of us take for granted like sick pay.

“While it is good to see employment is rising, if the UK doesn’t create more well-paid jobs with regular hours we will continue to have a two-tier workforce where many people are stuck in working poverty.

“The increase in casual labour also helps explain why income tax revenues are falling which is not only bad for our public finances but for society too. The lack of regular hours and income makes it difficult for households to pay bills and take on financial commitments such as rents and mortgages.”

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle,  15 Dec 2014

Wonga say they are committed to Newcastle United sponsorship

Labour MPs have increased the pressure on payday lenders Wonga to quit their Newcastle United shirt sponsorship deal – but the company say they are committed to the club.

The finance firm’s new chairman Andy Haste announced on Monday he would be reviewing the company’s advertising and marketing “to make sure that we don’t leave any impression that we are trying to influence or target the very young”.

But with thousands of junior Magpies fans wearing Wonga-sponsored shirts, some MPs said they hope he will end to Wonga’s partnership with NUFC.

A spokesman for Wonga said that its chairman had been asked a comment about Wonga’s marketing in general in the wake of the company’s decision to ditch its “puppet” advertising campaign, and had made no specific remarks regarding Newcastle United.

We continue to be proud sponsors of Newcastle United FC,” she said. “Our new chairman, Andy Haste, was commenting on our general marketing approach – he did not make any direct comment on our sponsorship of the club.”

Gateshead Mp Ian Mearns said: “If Wonga express an interest in disassociating themselves because of a duty to young fans in their new business model then I’d hope Mike Ashley would let them out of their contract and find a new sponsor.

“But it will depend on what Wonga are contractually obliged to do in terms of the longevity of their sponsorship deal.

“It might be very difficult to extricate themselves from it.”

Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah said the possibility of Wonga continuing as sponsor would be in direct contradiction of its vow not to target children.

She said: “The idea that Wonga is not targeting children when its logo is emblazoned across toddlers throughout Tyneside would be laughable were it not so serious,” she said.

“I look forward to a day when Newcastle United’s sponsors are not a source of shame for so many fans, until then I will not be attending matches at the stadium.”

One the issue of the ground re-naming, MPs refused to be drawn.

Wonga paid club owner Mike Ashley to “return” the ground’s name to St James’ Park in October 2012 after he had named it the Sports Direct Arena after his sports shop empire.

But Ms Onwurah refused to be grateful for the move.

She said: “I am not grateful to Wonga for retaining the name St James Park. Mike Ashley should never have changed it to Sports Direct in the first place.”

However, Mr Mearns welcomed the new Wonga chairman’s admission that in the past it has made “some serious mistakes” and his desire for the company to operate in a “responsible and transparent manner.”

I very much welcomed the comments from Wonga and I think some of that comes from a realisation by them that hopefully there will be much more stringent regulation from the FCA,” he said. “They’re waking up and smelling the coffee and taking a realistic attitude.”

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 15 July 2014

National Front demonstration Newcastle 10th May 2014

 

Sad right-wing bastards on parade in Newcastle…

Sunderland Echoes

You may have read the account of our writer friend being targeted by supporters of the National Front. Here’s his account of the demonstration itself. Thanks for your contribution, comrade!

I arrived at the demonstration area about half an hour before the advertised start time and there was already about 20 people standing on Grey’s Monument with a large banner declaring ‘Nationalists against Groomers’ and smaller Union flags. The crowd had doubled in size after just 15 minutes and by midday there was around 100 people.

ImageThis wasn’t the drunken wannabes of the EDL (although there was a small group of EDL from Sunderland who were, somewhat predictably, already drunk) this group was predominantly middle-aged veterans of the far-right. The fascist insignia was proudly on display; Blood and Honour shirts, C-18 badges and swastika tattoos.

ImageTheir banners and placards featured Enoch Powell; an iconic image from a past which felt…

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Commons inquiry comes to Newcastle to ask residents about Atos

An influential Commons committee is asking Newcastle residents for first-hand accounts of a controversial testing regime for people claiming disability benefits.

MPs are asking residents to meet them at Newcastle United Football Club on Tuesday, May 13, to discuss the Work Capability Assessments carried out by Atos.

The event has been organised by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, a cross-party group of backbench MPs from across the country which scrutinises the work of the Government.

They are holding an inquiry in to Employment and Support Allowance, the new allowance which has replaced incapacity benefit, and the Work Capability Assessment, a test which claimants are forced to undergo to see if they are able to work.

The Committee would usually meet at Westminster and hear evidence from senior figures ranging from Government Ministers to charity managers.

But they have taken the unusual step of asking any member of the public with experience of applying for the benefits or going through the assessment to meet them in Newcastle.

The Work Capability Assessment has been the subject of bitter criticism. Speaking in the House of Commons earlier this year, Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery said: “The attack on the disabled and the vulnerable is relentless.”

Anger has focused on the role of Atos Healthcare, the firm contracted to carry out the tests. Critics claim Atos gets decisions wrong and declares people fit for work when they have a disability or serious illness which makes finding a job impossible.

Committee chair Dame Anne Begg, said: “Committee Members, not least in our role as constituency MPs, have heard many concerns about Employment and Support Allowance and about the Work Capability Assessment in particular.

“We are therefore keen to get out of Westminster and find out how the system is working on the ground.

“We want to hear from people who have experience of making a new claim for Employment and Support Allowance or who have been through the incapacity benefit reassessment process.

“Their observations on how the system is working and, crucially, suggestions for how it can be improved, will help inform our ongoing inquiry.”

The meeting will take place in the Moncur Suite, St. James’ Park, between 10.30am and 12.30pm on May 13.

Anybody with experience of applying for Employment and Support Allowance or going through a Work Capability Assessment is invited to speak to the MPs.

Source –  Newcastle Journal   09 May 2014

Britain’s Five Richest Families Worth More Than Poorest 20%

This article  was written by Larry Elliott, economics editor, for The Guardian on Monday 17th March

The scale of Britain’s growing inequality is revealed today by a report from a leading charity showing that the country’s five richest families now own more wealth than the poorest 20% of the population.

Oxfam urged the chancellor George Osborne to use Wednesday’s budget to make a fresh assault on tax avoidance and introduce a living wage in a report highlighting how a handful of the super-rich, headed by the Duke of Westminster, have more money and financial assets than 12.6 million Britons put together.

The development charity, which has opened UK programmes to tackle poverty, said the government should explore the possibility of a wealth tax after revealing how income gains and the benefits of rising asset prices had disproportionately helped those at the top.

Although Labour is seeking to make living standards central to the political debate in the run-up to next year’s general election, Osborne is determined not to abandon the deficit-reduction strategy that has been in place since 2010. But he is likely to announce a fresh crackdown on tax avoidance and measures aimed at overseas owners of high-value London property in order to pay for modest tax cuts for working families.

The early stages of the UK’s most severe post-war recession saw a fall in inequality as the least well-off were shielded by tax credits and benefits. But the trend has been reversed in recent years as a result of falling real wages, the rising cost of food and fuel, and by the exclusion of most poor families from home and share ownership.

In a report, a Tale of Two Britains, Oxfam said the poorest 20% in the UK had wealth totalling £28.1bn – an average of £2,230 each. The latest rich list from Forbes magazine showed that the five top UK entries – the family of the Duke of Westminster, David and Simon Reuben, the Hinduja brothers, the Cadogan family, and Sports Direct retail boss Mike Ashley – between them had property, savings and other assets worth £28.2bn.

The most affluent family in Britain, headed by Major General Gerald Grosvenor, owns 77 hectares (190 acres) of prime real estate in Belgravia, London, and has been a beneficiary of the foreign money flooding in to the capital’s soaring property market in recent years. Oxfam said Grosvenor and his family had more wealth (£7.9bn) than the poorest 10% of the UK population (£7.8bn).

Oxfam’s director of campaigns and policy, Ben Phillips, said: “Britain is becoming a deeply divided nation, with a wealthy elite who are seeing their incomes spiral up, while millions of families are struggling to make ends meet.

“It’s deeply worrying that these extreme levels of wealth inequality exist in Britain today, where just a handful of people have more money than millions struggling to survive on the breadline.”

The UK study follows an Oxfam report earlier this year which found that the wealth of 85 global billionaires is equivalent to that of half the world’s population – or 3.5 billion people. The pope and Barack Obama have made tackling inequality a top priority for 2014, while the International Monetary Fund has warned that the growing divide between the haves and have-nots is leading to slower global growth.

Oxfam said the wealth gap in the UK was becoming more entrenched as a result of the ability of the better off to capture the lion’s share of the proceeds of growth. Since the mid-1990s, the incomes of the top 0.1% have grown by £461 a week or £24,000 a year. By contrast, the bottom 90% have seen a real terms increase of only £2.82 a week or £147 a year.

The charity said the trends in income had been made even more adverse by increases in the cost of living over the past decade. “Since 2003 the majority of the British public (95%) have seen a 12% real terms drop in their disposable income after housing costs, while the richest 5% of the population have seen their disposable income increase.”

Osborne will this week announce details of the government’s new cap on the welfare budget and has indicated that he wants up to £12bn a year cut from the benefits bill in order to limit the impact of future rounds of austerity on Whitehall departments.

Oxfam said that for the first time more working households were in poverty than non-working ones, and predicted that the number of children living below the poverty line could increase by 800,000 by 2020. It said cuts to social security and public services were meshing with falling real incomes and a rising cost of living to create a “deeply damaging situation” in which millions were struggling to get by.

The charity said that starting with this week’s budget, the government should balance its books by raising revenues from those that could afford it – “by clamping down on companies and individuals who avoid paying their fair share of tax and starting to explore greater taxation of extreme wealth”.

The IMF recently released research showing that the ever-greater concentration of wealth and income hindered growth and said redistribution would not just reduce inequality but would be economically beneficial.

“On average, across countries and over time, the things that governments have typically done to redistribute do not seem to have led to bad growth outcomes, unless they were extreme”, the IMF said in a research paper. “And the resulting narrowing of inequality helped support faster and more durable growth, apart from ethical, political or broader social considerations.”

Phillips said: “Increasing inequality is a sign of economic failure rather than success. It’s far from inevitable – a result of political choices that can be reversed. It’s time for our leaders to stand up and be counted on this issue.”

Landed gentry to self-made millionaires

Duke of Westminster (Wealth: £7.9bn)

Gerald Grosvenor and his family owe the bulk of their wealth to owning 77 hectares (190 acres) of Mayfair and Belgravia, adjacent to Buckingham Palace and prime London real estate.

As the value of land rockets in the capital so too does the personal wealth of Grosvenor, formally the sixth Duke of Westminster and one of seven god parents to the new royal baby, Prince George.

The family also own 39,000 hectares in Scotland and 13,000 hectares in Spain, while their privately owned Grosvenor Estate property group has $20bn (£12bn) worth of assets under managemenSpaint including the Liverpool One shopping mall, according to leading US business magazine Forbes.

Reuben brothers (£6.9bn)

Simon and David Reuben made their early money out of metals. Born in India but brought up in London, they started in local scrap metal but branched out into trading tin and aluminium.

Their biggest break was to move into Russia just after the break-up of the Soviet Union, buying up half the country’s aluminium production facilities and befriending Oleg Deripaska, the oligarch associate of Nat Rothschild and Peter Mandelson.

The Reuben brothers are still involved in mining and metals but control a widely diversified business empire that includes property, 850 British pubs, and luxury yacht-maker Kristal Waters. They are also donors to the Conservative party.

Hinduja brothers (£6bn)

Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja co-chair the Hinduja Group, a multinational conglomerate with a presence in 37 countries and businesses ranging from trucks and lubricants to banking and healthcare.

They began their careers working in their father’s textile and trading businesses in Mumbai and Tehran, Iran but soon branched out by buying truck maker, Ashok Leyland from British Leyland and Gulf Oil from Chevron in the 1980s, while establishing banks in Switzerland and India in the 1990s.

The family’s London home is a mansion on Carlton House Terrace, overlooking St James Park and just along fromclose to Buckingham Palace, which is potentially worth £300m. They have links with the Labour party.

Cadogan family (£4bn)

The wealth of the Cadogans family is built on 90 acres36 hectares of property and land in Chelsea and Knightsbridge, west London.

Eton-educated Charles is the eighth Earl of Cadogan and ran the family business, Cadogan Estates, until 2012 when he handed it over to his son Edward, Viscount Chelsea.

Charles, who is a first cousin to the Aga Khan, started in the Coldstream Guards before going into the City.

He was briefly chairman of Chelsea Football Club in the early 1980s and his family motto is: “He who envies is the lesser man.”

Mike Ashley (£3.3bn)

Ashley owns Newcastle United football club and became a billionaire through his Sports Direct discount clothing chain which he started after leaving school.

He was the sole owner of the fast growing business, which snapped up brands such as Dunlop, Slazenger, Karrimor and Lonsdale, until it floated on the stock market in 2007. He now owns 62%.

Ashley is a regular visitor to London’s swankiest casinos but is famously publicity-averse

Source – Welfare News Service,  17 March 2014

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Labour peer urges NUFC owner to support food banks

A labour peer has come up with a unique way to spend Newcastle United’s money on a greater good.

In the week when the club have pocketed more than £20m from the sale of Yohan Cabaye, former Newcastle Council leader Jeremy Beecham has said owner Mike Ashley should consider making a donation to local food banks.

Lord Beecham has suggested the club might like to consider donating £1 from each matchday ticket sold to local causes, including the food banks popping up across the city.

The peer said it would be a welcome sign from Newcastle United and club sponsor Wonga that they are committed to the city.

He said: “Along with around 50,000 United fans, I’ll be at St James’ Park on Saturday hoping to see United beat Sunderland. Too many people today have to rely on food banks to feed themselves and their families. Food banks rely on the generosity of many individuals and organisations who donate food or cash.

“Wouldn’t it be great if Newcastle United and their sponsors donated just £1 per head out of the ticket income for Saturday’s derby match, in the week when the club receives £25m for Yohan Cabaye? It would be a fraction of the weekly wage bill. I hope on Saturday afternoon we can celebrate a United victory and a generous response from the club to this request.”

Food banks in Tyneside have reported growing demands for their goods, with many now having to make wider appeals for food stuffs. The Newcastle West End Food Bank says it helped provide 10,000 meals last year alone. It has now teamed up with bakers Greggs to help provide more food for hard up families in the city.

Newcastle United did not comment.

Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle  30 Jan 2014