On an evening with many other events happening in and around York it was good to see a healthy turnout for a public meeting at the Crescent Community Venue organised by York People’s Assembly and Supported by York and District Trades Council on 13th September 2017 was entitled “Justice for Grenfell, end austerity, scrap the 1% pay cap” allowing a range of speakers to provide background to why the governments neo-liberal economic policies and especially its austerity program was ultimately to blame for the Grenfell Towers disaster on the 14th June 2017. A range of stalls were also present promoting defence of the NHS, Unite Against Racism and the campaign against fracking.
The first to speak was Kim Hunter from Frack Free Scarborough who spoke of the solidarity across the movement. Next was James Cussens from York and District Trades Council with a similar message of solidarity against austerity. David Lewis from York Unison followed with a story of the origins of neo-liberalism and austerity in the UK, including the Hayek-Thatcher meeting of 1975. Councillor Danny Myers continued the overarching theme of the need to work together against global capitalism.
Next in line was Annie, one of the Durham Teaching Assistants who had spoken at a previous meeting and whilst not bearing a message of complete victory brought one of the benefits of solidarity and support that they were able to demonstrate. They’re in the third year of a dispute that has grown from one woman on Facebook to having 1500 (out of a total of 2500) Teaching Assistants in Durham standing up boldly against the County Council and others. Annie was supported by two other colleagues, and it was great to see and hear them again.
“Enough is enough” was the message Judy Bolton brought from Justice4Grenfell. With friends and family who had died in the disaster she described the failings behind the catastrophic loss of life on the 14th June and after. Since the event it is estimated by the campaign that around 250 people lost their lives, whilst the authorities have only declared 85 “viable human remains”, and that only 16 people have been re-homed. Judy’s talk was a moving description of the horrors of the night and days following, along with a list of cuts, cock-ups and criminal negligence that cost so many lives.
Judy received a standing ovation at the end of the talk but continued to answer more questions regarding the event and campaign. She will be attending Manchester on the 1st October with the London Fire Brigade Union. So book your ticket for the coach and join her.
Her call was “enough is enough”.
The Conservative Party has decided to bring its annual shindig to Manchester, where they’ll celebrate all they they’ve acheived for their rich backers. People’s Assembly have called for a huge march and rally to wipe the smile off their faces, put the real story of Britain 2017 back on the agenda: Foodbanks, Homelessness, Rising In-work Poverty, Schools and Hospitals set up to fail.
This march will be the centre-piece of 5 days of resistance as People’s Assembly and dozens of other groups “Take Back Manchester”.
Pick-up locations: (Please select when buying your ticket!)
- 9am at Scarborough Rail Station bus stops
- 10am at York’s Leeman Road Memorial Gardens coach stop
- Can’t attend? There’s an option for you to donate the cost of a ticket
The coach will drop us near Castlefield Arena, where the march is assembling, and collect at Piccadilly Gardens, where the rally is taking place. The coach will return to York around 7.30pm and Scarborough around 8.30pm subject to traffic.
As we know some people are hoping to take part in the pro-EU demonstration on the same day, we are looking at a second set-down in Manchester at Whitworth Park (about half an hour’s walk from Castlefield). However, you will still need to come to Piccadilly Gardens for the return pick-up – around a 15 minute walk from the Cathedral Gardens.
“Justice for Grenfell, end austerity, scrap the 1% pay cap”
A Public Meeting Organised by York People’s Assembly and Supported by York and District TUC
Wednesday 13th Sept 2017 at 7:30 pm
at the Crescent Community Venue, 8 The Crescent, York YO24 1AW
- Judy Bolton, volunteer coordinator with Justice4Grenfell,
- striking Durham teaching assistants,
- A local Labour Party councillor – Cllr Danny Myers
- along with speakers from York Trades Council and Unison
After the sudden closure of Bootham Park hospital and therefore cuts to vital mental health services in York, Mental Health Action York (MHAY) was formed. Working side by side with the People’s Assembly we organised a successful march and rally on May the 14th to increase awareness and express public support for the reinstatement of mental health services which were so suddenly and cruelly taken.
The March got a wide press coverage including ITV Calendar and BBC look north. We had some great speakers including Len McCluskey and York Central MP Rachel Maskell who said “It is so important that we are standing up for not just the one in four people who experience mental health challenges, but the one in one who could be affected by them. It’s vital that we put this marker down today that we need quality mental health facilities in York.” Also Bob Adams, a founder member of MHAY and a retired consultant psychiatrist spoke out and said “York has been particularly hit with the closure of Bootham Park Hospital when we lost all of our adult beds at just five days’ notice. We want to raise attention to this and make sure that the residents of York have a say in how services are developed in the future. In my time I have seen the peak of mental health services and now the decline, which is very bad.”
As People’s Assembly we wanted to say thank you to everyone who made this possible and let’s keep up the good fight.
At 5:15 on the 17th June 2016 a group of supporters gathered in front of St Michael le Belfrey Church, York to demonstrate support for the cars, goods and money travelling from York in the hope of reaching Calais on the 18th June. Speakers from York City of Sanctuary, Refugee Action York, York Stand Up To Racism, York Trades Union Council and the organisers York People’s Assembly, along with the Lord Mayor, Councillor Dave Taylor who had attended with the civic party.#
It had been hoped that Rachael Maskell MP would attend but the murder of Jo Cox MP the previous day had left her upset and unable to attend. In honour of Jo Cox Graham read out a speech on refugees that Jo had made to Parliament. The Lord Mayor spoke of York as a city of sanctuary and his pleasure that York was joining the convoy to Calais.
We all wish our comrades a safe journey to Dover, and the hope that the French authorities let them through to the camp and refugees. We will, no doubt, be holding a meeting on their return to York.
In the run up to the EU referendum we’ve heard every kind of claim and counter-claim by the official Leave and Remain campaigns. The truth is, both sides are being led from a right wing, committed to building up the power of an ever-shrinking elite. But who’s going to discuss our interests in the debate? Will being in or being out deliver a more humane society?
On Tuesday 6th June York People’s Assembly gathered together a mix of social justice, workers’ rights and environmental campaigners to discuss what would make a better world. This included War On Wants’ John Hilary and Left Leave campaigner Maxine Bowler to represent the Leave side. Whilst Green Councillor Lars Kramm and ‘Another Europe Is Possible’s Michel Chessum putt the case for Remain. Thanks also to the more than fifty people who came to take part, rather than staying at home at listening to David Cameron and Nigel Farage on television. Sally chaired the meeting and introductions were made by Chris and Jane outlining as well the York arm of the Convoy to Calais on June 18th, along with a request for funds for that, and to pay for the room and expenses.
York People’s Assembly is not taking a position on Leaving or Remaining – doing so would undermine the diverse spread of passionate people who make up the group. We wanted to create the possibility of a fresh debate on new terms.
Whilst the debate was open and maintained a civility throughout it was accepted by all the speakers that the racist elements in the public debate were fuelled by concerns over immigration, and that this needed to be debated by the left. However all speakers considered that immigration had always existed and should continue to happen but this was marred by the neoliberal 1% seeking to exploit workers, whether in country of origin and at their destination.and using them as scapegoats for austerity.
York People’s Assembly’s ‘We’ve Got No Trust Fund’ appeal this week brought in an incredible £550 in online donations in 48 hours. Unlike Cameron, we’ve never benefited from a trust fund squirrelled away in a tax haven. Many thanks to everyone who gave – we’ll be able to go on campaigning for months to come. The appeal page is still open for more donations, should others wish to contribute.