People’s Assembly calls for mass protest and direct action

June 28, 2013

Thanks to everyone who came to the People’s Assembly last Saturday. Well over 4,000 people attended throughout the day.

It brought together every organisation fighting and resisting austerity, for the first time since the financial crash over five years ago.

Recognising the energy, potential and hope of millions of people affected by austerity, it called for concrete action to be undertaken across the country.

This includes:

– a mass national protest at the Tory Party conference on 29 September in Manchester;

– a day of civil disobedience on 5 November in every town and city across the country;

– local People’s Assemblies to be established in every area possible;

– a national demonstration in London in the new year

We now need to create an infrastructure that can support the local organisations and take forward the national initiatives that were launched at the assembly. To do this, we need your support. We are launching an urgent financial appeal so we can raise the funds to do this. Please consider making a monthly donation, or a one off donation if you prefer. You can do this on our website here: http://thepeoplesassembly.org.uk/donate/

Your support is indispensable in building on the determination and commitment of 22 June and taking the movement forward.

We will be contacting you over the next weeks and months about plans and actions. Video and pictures of the day will be available on the website soon.

In the meantime, we are compiling a list of local People’s Assembly activist meetings and events for the website. If you have one planned, or would like to plan one in your area please send an email to: office@thepeoplesassembly.org.uk.

If you have photos or videos of the day please send them through to office@thepeoplesassembly.org.uk

The PCS have organised a protest day for tomorrow (27 June) against the cuts announced by Osborne this afternoon. See the list of events here <http://www.pcs.org.uk/en/campaigns/national-campaigns/action-now/27-june-protest.cfm> . They are asking for messages of support for use on social media to build up for the protest. Send messages to stopthecuts@pcs.org.uk

The People’s Assembly Organising Committee


People’s Assembly marks new stage in #cuts #resistance

June 23, 2013

Union leaders at the People’s Assembly Against Austerity on 22 June pledged support for anti-cuts strike action.

The TUC’s Frances O’Grady, Unite’s Len McCluskey, NUT’s Christine Blower and PCS’ Mark Serwotka told 4,000-plus delegates that it was time to step up the campaign against the Coalition.

Throughout the day, delegates were calling on union leaders to make good on a past TUC motion to consider a general strike.

People gather at the People's Assembly

People gather at the People’s Assembly

At the plenary session, Len McCluskey told delegates: “We must work together to build the right support, to create the right climate for mass industrial action.

“When Unite members are ready and willing to take that industrial action to make the politicians change course, then we will not let the anti-union laws get in our way.

Mark Serwotka, who leads the civil service PCS, said the industrial action already taken by his union would have been more successful with support from other unions.

He also went further after Labour leader, Ed Milliband, announced earlier today that a future government led by him would stick to Coalition spending plans.

He said: “There’s an awful political consensus in this country across the Tories, Lib Dems and Labour that believes that austerity is the only way forward. We have got to say that’s not acceptable.”

The Assembly took place at Westminster Hall and  held workshops on topics such as tactics for anti-austerity campaigning, housing, economics, NHS, democracy, welfare state, climate change, impact of the cuts and immigration and Islamaphobia.

Delegates gather at the People's Assembly

Delegates gather at the People’s Assembly

The Assembly passed a statement  that organizers want local forums to discuss, amend and support at another conference in Manchester in the Spring.

The statement included setting up local assemblies, a national day of disobedience on November 5 and the Spring, backing NHS demonstrations on July 5 and a demonstration at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on 29 September.

The big turnout prompted speakers to say that the fight back had reached a new stage.

TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady said: “If you hurt us we will retaliate. It’s time to mobilize in our workplace and on the streets. The People’s Assembly is about taking this campaign to a whole new level.”

Writer, Owen Jones told delegates: “We are here to fight back. We are here for supermarket workers. We are here for disabled people forced into degrading, dehumanizing assessments by ATOS. We are here for millions of young people looking for work. We are here for 5 million people stuck on council housing waiting lists.

He also said: “We need unity but that doesn’t mean snuffing out difference. We need debate but we also recognise that we are on the same side.”

Leading figures at the conference included Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Diane Abbott MP, comedian Mark Steel, filmmaker Ken Loach. John Hiliary from War on Want, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, Zita Holbourne from Black People Rising Against the Cuts.


Video on why the People’s Assembly

June 19, 2013

IHOOPS is supporting the People’s Assembly Against Austerity that takes place on Saturday, 22 June.

This video shows why we need it,

PEOPLE’S ASSEMBLY Workshops:

Tactics for the anti-austerity movement
A wide variety of tactics including strikes, mass demonstrations, direct action, legal action and online organising have already been put to good use in the anti-austerity movement. In this session, with plenty of input from the floor, we’ll consider the strengths and weaknessess of these different forms of action and brainstorm ideas for how they can be joined up in the future to maximise impact.

What cuts are doing to emergency services, local government and the communities they serve
The government aims to cut 30% of local council budgets by 2015. Big cuts are also hitting emergency services. In a few years time, councils may only provide social services, street cleaning and refuse collection, whilst privatisation, of the sort happening in Barnet, has implications for local democracy. What action can we take to defend our local services?

The climate change threat and one million climate jobs

Protecting the NHS: stopping cuts, privatisation and closures
This session, hosted by Keep Our NHS Public, raises the importance of the move to privatise the NHS. The Coalition’s 2012 Health and Scoal Care Act forces local health commissioners, the Clinical Commissioning Groups, to put services out to tender. John Lister’s political analysis shows why this is happening and who gains, GP Dr David Wrigley talks about how it is affecting patients and what you can do to influence your CCG, and Gill George calls for fellow NHS workers to back resistance. Dr Wendy Savage, President of KONP, will chair the session.

Welfare not Warfare
The government is spending billions on war in Afghanistan while it wields the austerity axe on benefits, housing, health and education. Spending on the Trident nuclear submarine system is protected while libraries close and public sector workers see wage cuts. The wars of the past decade have had a terrible cost in human life and money, yet the government is planning to intervene again. How can we ensure money currently spent on arms and war is instead used to create equality and justice here and abroad?

Immigration is not to blame – countering racism, Islamophobia and the far right

Stand up against the cuts: comedy and performance
Comedy and performance from some of the UK’s most passionate and politically-engaged performers, including Mark Thomas, Josie Long and the Birmingham poet laureate.

Democracy and decision-making: fixing our broken political system

The next step: creating local People’s Assemblies

 Defending our welfare state
The Welfare State was created 65 years ago by a Labour government swept to office by millions who had fought in a war and then wanted to fight poverty. They did not want a return to the 30s. Deep austerity is bringing back mass poverty while the rich are getting richer. How can we recapture the “spirit of 45” of social solidarity to fight for our welfare state, public services, and the NHS? Clips from Ken Loach’s new film “The Spirit of 45” will be shown.

The economics of anti-austerity: jobs, investment and tax justice

Protecting public education
With youth unemployment at an all-time high, privatisation hitting schools, colleges and universities and life-long leaning looking like a thing of the past, this session seeks to reflect on the consequences of the attacks on public education and to discuss how we can unite in defence of it. Speakers will address the riots of summer 2011, teachers’ strike action, university student occupations and the battle to bring back the education maintenance allowance, with plenty of time for contributions from the floor.

The Hardest Hit


#Islington march for #fire safety in #London

June 6, 2013
  • Demonstrate for Clerkenwell fire station – Sat., 8 June,  12noon, Highbury Fields 
  • Is your life worth 7p a week?
  • Clerkenwell THIRD busiest fire station in London – 2000 callouts per year
  • Fire cuts mean only SIX engines to service ALL Central London – many of them already frequently called to deal with incidents elsewhere
  • Clerkenwell current first engine response times to disasters = 4.19 minutes
  • Without Clerkenwell, new response times 50% longer = 6.26 minutes.  THIS RISKS LIVES!
  • To save 7 pence per week per household, Londoners’ lives are at risk
  • The fire station situated in most densely populated part of London and UK
  • Major Rally and Demo planned in Central London this Saturday 8th June, 12noon

https://twitter.com/saveclerkenwell/status/341828849425866753/photo/1 

Unsafe Fire Cuts Save Paltry £3.64 per year per household

Londoners rally to prevent closure of London’s third busiest fire station with nearly 2000 call outs per year

Residents in Islington, Clerkenwell and Hackney are campaigning to ensure Londoners’ lives are not put at risk from the latest round of the Mayor of London’s cuts.  Closure of the Clerkenwell fire station will leave only three fire engines servicing the UK’s most densely populated borough of Islington with more than 200,000 residents.

Crucially, it will mean only SIX fire engines in the heart of Central London. 

This will put people’s lives at risk.

The King’s Cross and Clerkenwell area is exceptionally densely populated.  Extensive regeneration in King’s Cross and new high rise towers in City Road are underway with much more planned – including a further high rise development in Mount Pleasant.  On top of this the new Crossrail station in Farringdon, when opened, will become the busiest train station in Europe.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, said: “The closure of Clerkenwell and other Central London fire stations will amount to a negligible cost saving of SEVEN pence a week per household.  For a tiny saving of £3.64 per year, the Mayor of London is putting the safety of Londoners seriously at risk.  It will leave only SIX fire engines to serve the whole of Central London:

  • Euston (Euston Road) – 1 fire engine
  • Soho (Shaftesbury Avenue) – 2 fire engines
  • Shoreditch (Old Street) – 2 fire engines
  • Dowgate (Upper Thames Street) – 1 fire engine

Given the narrow roads and frequently gridlocked traffic in Central London, these few remaining engines will simply not be able to reach King’s Cross or Islington within the six minute deadline”, he added.

High profile campaigner and Shadow Attorney General, Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, said:  “The London Fire Brigade only seemed to time engines arriving at the bottom of high-rise buildings, and doesn’t seem to allow any time for the fire fighters to close the lifts, climb to the top or for the arrival of a support engine.

“However, financially, it makes perfect sense for the Mayor of London.  The building has six storeys of empty fire fighters’ flats.  This is prime real estate and will generate millions in any sell-off”, she concluded.

Thousands of local residents are expected to gather on Saturday 8th June at 12noon in Highbury Fields, N5, at a rally to make their feelings known to the Mayor of London.  They will march from there to Clerkenwell fire station, and will rally at Spa Fields Park at 2.30pm to demand that Londoners remain protected from future fires and terrorist attacks.

-Ends-

Twitter – @saveclerkenwell

Facebook – on.fb.me/SaveIslingtonFireStations

38degrees – https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/stop-fire-service-privatisation#petition

youtube – http://youtu.be/WfA1xMCSN6w

For media enquiries contact:

Michelle Doughty, doughty public relations

Mobile:  07767 633888

Email:     michelle@doughtypr.com

Notes to Editors

CLERKENWELL FIRE STATION – produced by the Fire Brigade Union (May 2013).

FIRE BRIGADE STATISTICS:

  • It is ranked joint third most utilised fire engine at emergency incidents in London at 11% of time available (the same as Paddington). First is neighbouring Soho at an average of 13.3%. Second is Euston at 13.2% (2011/2012).
  • It is ranked fifth busiest for incidents by station area behind Soho, Paddington, Euston and Hammersmith.
  • In the past five year period total calls = 12,935. An average of 2,587 calls per year.
  • In 2011/2012 Islington Borough had a total of 6,228 mobilisations.
  • The average attendance time for the first fire engine is 4.43 minutes (82% of the time).
  • The average attendance time for the second fire engine is 5.38 minutes (89% of the time).
  • If the cuts go ahead the borough will see a projected average increase of 26 seconds for the first fire engine and plus 52 seconds for the second.
  • More importantly broken down by wards covered by the station:
Ward Average first fire engine change Average time added Average second fire engine change Average time added
London wide 5.20 – 5.36 mins. 0.15 minutes 6.22 – 6.38 mins. 0.16 minutes
Clerkenwell 4.19 – 6.26 mins 2.07 minutes 6.18 – 7.28 mins. 1.10 minutes
Bunhill 4.32 – 4.52 mins 0.20 minutes 5.37 – 6.19 mins. 0.42 minutes
Kings Cross 4.44 – 5.38 mins. 0.54 minutes 6.13 – 7.25 mins. 1.12 minutes
Holborn & Covent Garden 4.41 – 5.53 mins. 1.12 minutes 5.30 – 5.59 mins. 0.29 minutes

So in fact Clerkenwell ward will fall outside of the Brigade’s own target for the average attendance time for the first fire engine of 6 minutes. It will actually be a full 50 seconds longer than the new Brigade-wide modelled attendance time for a first fire engine. Only Bunhill ward will be below this new average time.

MAJOR RISKS :

  • Clerkenwell covers five hospitals : Bart’s, Great Ormond Street, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, Eastman Dental, Royal Ear Nose and Throat and the Royal London Homoeopathic.
  • It covers the underground stations of Chancery Lane, Holborn and Farringdon, and borders Barbican, Russell Square and Kings Cross.
  • At present Farringdon has a 20,000 people an hour average in rush hour. This is set to rise to 56,000 when Crossrail is completed making the station the only connection in London between Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick. The plan is for upwards of 140 trains per hour to flow through the station. This would see Farringdon surpass Clapham Junction as Britain’s busiest train station.
  • It covers Citigen – an inner London power station, Smithfield market, hotels, hostels, halls of residence, night clubs, data processing sites, cinemas, university buildings, research sites, Mount Pleasant, ITN HQ, Lincoln’s Inn, Charterhouse, museums, Hatton Garden, Exmouth Market and the three and half acre site of the Royal Courts of Justice to name but some.
  • Also it covers over 15 major housing estates, which include high rises such as Peregrine House (80 metres high, 27 floors and 228 flats) and Michael Cliffe House (74 metres high, 25 floors and 185 flats), as well as high rise Kestrel House, the scene of a recent major fire.

 ISLINGTON BOROUGH POPULATION DENSITY:

  • The borough is the most densely populated local authority in England and Wales at 13,875 people per km2. This is three times the London average (5,199 per km2) and 34 times the English average of 407 per km2.
  • Its population from the 2011 census is 206,100. An increase of 14.9% or 27,000 since 2001. This makes it the 20th largest percentage increase in the last ten years.
  • This figure is set to rise substantially, because of the planned developments at Mount Pleasant and Farringdon/Smithfield. The latter area projected to grow by 3,400 homes and 18,000 new jobs.
  • On the edge of the ground there is also the major development at King’s Cross. The 67 acre site is the largest area of urban redevelopment in Europe and has had to have a whole new postcode to manage the over 8 million square feet of homes and offices being built.
  • Also on the edge of the ground at City Road a development containing two residential towers of 155 metres (41 storeys) and 137 metres (36 storeys) is to be built.

HISTORIC INCIDENTS:

  • Clerkenwell has been the first to arrive on the scene for some of London’s worst disasters in recent years e.g. King’s Cross Fire, 1987, and July 7 bombings at King’s Cross, Tavistock Square and Russell Square, 2005.  Their speed of arrival helped to prevent a serious situation from getting worse and saved many lives in the process.  (See footnote[1] below).
  • Apart from playing its part in WWI and WWII during the Blitz, firefighters from Clerkenwell attended major incidents:
  • 28th February 1975 Moorgate Train Crash at which 43 died.
  • 18th November 1987 Kings Cross Fire at which 31 died.
  • 26th February 1994 Clerkenwell Cinema Fire at which 11 died.
  • 7th July 2005 King’s Cross bomb at which 26 died.

SUMMARY:

Clerkenwell fire station stands in an exceptionally densely populated and used part of the capital. It has evolved on its site for over 140 years from horse drawn steam powered fire engines to its current Mercedes made fire engine and specialist modern equipment.

  • The firefighters undertake vital fire safety visits to individual homes and risks. As one of the fire brigade’s busiest stations, they have extensive local knowledge of this built up area
  • The station is also involved in youth engagement through the Life courses run at the station.

GREATER LONDON ASSEMBLY

Labour, Green and Liberal Democrat members on the London Fire Emergency and Planning Authority (LFEPA) all voted to block consultation on the closure plans and called on the Mayor to provide more funding.

Following the LFEPA vote, the Mayor issued a Mayoral Directive ordering the authority to proceed with the consultation. However the three parties refused to back down and earlier this month passed a motion defying the Mayor’s instruction and vowed to fight to the cuts.

That move prompted the Mayor to threaten to seek a Judicial Review unless the fire authority confirmed by 5pm, Tuesday February 26th that it would comply with his instructions.

On Monday the three parties failed in their efforts to use a London Assembly vote to amend the Mayor’s budget and scrap the planned council tax cut.

The consultation is now set to go ahead after the parties backed down during an emergency meeting of the fire authority held on Tuesday, saying it was against Londoners’ interests to spend money on litigation.

However the authority passed a motion delaying any “cuts to frontline services” to the next financial year. Labour say the move “has created time for a meaningful and wide-ranging consultation with Londoners”.

Source: http://www.mayorwatch.co.uk/fire-stations-closures-plan-to-go-ahead-after-lfepa-members-back-down/201324365

[1] King’s Cross Fire, 1987:  Clerkenwell was the second fire engine to arrive.  The officer in charge of Clerkenwell went down the escalator before the flashover and stopped more passengers going up into the ticket hall.  They ended up safely below the fire.  The rest of the crew were also commended for their actions at the fire.