"I have long argued that the giving of offence, and even hate speech, should be a moral matter but not a matter for the criminal law. That is as true on the football pitch as on the streets. We should always challenge racism. We should also always challenge attacks on liberties in the guise of faux antiracism." Kenan Malik

Archive for August, 2010

Burston Strike School This Sunday.


Norfolk Community Action Group members will join with the Norwich ‘Justice For Ian Tomlinson Family’ Campaign at the Burston Strike School Rally on Sunday to raise awareness of the issues and to agitate ‘the left’ to try and get them more involved in supporting the Tomlinson family.

So far we feel ‘the left’ have been far too quiet on the subject and must do better!

Look out for our banner and come and say hello.


BBC Radio 4 – Face the facts – Money to burn – Fire Service Procurement.


What’s behind threats to jobs fire fighters are facing and the serious risk to public safety?

Listen to the shocking case of tax payers money being wasted on non-sensical ‘Fire Service Procurement’ to the detriment of our fire men and women in R4’s Face the facts – Money to burn – Fire Service Procurement.

Below article on the programme…

Firefighters in the UK’s biggest brigade will start voting on Friday on whether to take industrial action in a row over new contracts.

Thousands of members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) in London will decide if they want to launch a campaign of action, which could start at the end of September.

The union went ahead with the ballot after complaining that firefighters were going to be sacked and re-employed on new contracts, including different shifts.

Matt Wrack, the FBU’s general secretary said: “It’s a great shame that London firefighters have to consider industrial action, but they won’t tolerate attempts to threaten or intimidate them. The proposal to end the contracts of all London firefighters is the most disgraceful thing I have ever seen in the fire service. If they are going to go down this road there is only one way to challenge them and that is strike action. For our own self esteem we have to do something about it.

“Even under the last government we had fewer firefighters at the end of 13 years than we had at the beginning. There was no golden age in the fire service. There has been some expansion – human resources departments have expanded into little empires. The people who are taking these decisions about cutting the service and reducing night-time fire cover in London have not the first idea what firefighting is all about.”

The ballot result is due on September 17.

Meanwhile, the FBU said a radio programme which claimed that millions of pounds were being wasted on unused fire engines and unoccupied new control centres as part of a revamp of the fire service showed a “shocking litany of wasted money”.

BBC Radio 4’s Face the Facts said nine new regional centres in England had been standing empty for up to three years because of problems in developing their computer systems. The monthly rent for the empty buildings was costing taxpayers £1 million a month, and they will not be all in use until 2013, sending the programme more than £350 million over budget, it was reported.

The FBU has been campaigning for years against the new centres, which were ordered by the previous Labour government.

Mr Wrack said: “The programme provided a shocking litany of wasted money in fire service procurement, on regional control centres which are still lying idle, on equipment that is not fit for use, on new recliners for firefighters which are not fit for purpose. Millions of pounds are being wasted. Decisions are being made by people who know nothing at all about firefighting. Meanwhile there are cuts in things that really matter – firefighters, fire stations, equipment – to pay for all this madness.”

Source


New Drive To Save Norfolk’s Careers Service


Union bosses offer proposal plan to save jobs getting axed at Connexions, while Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children’s services, replies

“We are still in the consultation process and we are still listening to people with regards to the options available.”

Now where have we heard that load of old rubbish before…

A new drive has been launched to save a vital career service as hundreds of youngsters desperately scramble for limited jobs and university places.

Union bosses have revealed new proposals to help save half of the under threat jobs at Connexions which could in turn help keep the career service for young people alive.

The news comes as hundreds of teenagers across Norfolk last week celebrated the county’s best ever A-level results – the biggest year-on-year increase for five years.

But for many those celebrations turned into panic as figures reveal that more than 170,000 people are set to miss out on a cherished university place nationally and that six students are fighting for each spare university place.

The knife-edge situation is illustrated locally, with Norwich University College of the Arts (Nuca) full to the brim and the University of East Anglia had just 70 places available through clearing after seeing a 30pc rise in applications for this year’s courses.

This year, hundreds and thousands of students across Norfolk have been lucky enough to be able to turn the Connexions service for career advice and to be steered in the right direction.

But next year, students may not be so fortunate as the service is facing a 50pc budget cut with 65 jobs expected to go. It is expected that the service will become more online and telephone based.

Norfolk County Council says it has to make £2.8m of cuts in the Connexions service in this financial year as part of a £10m package of savings.

County Hall says those cuts need to be made because in-year grants from the government have been slashed – with more than £4m taken from area based grants used to support services to children.

Fears have been raised, however, that Norfolk’s youngsters are taking a “disproportionate hit” in terms of where the cuts are being made.

The proposals being put forward by trade union UNISON could help safeguard Connexions and stop 30 jobs from being lost.

It is hoped they will be considered at a meeting of the full county council on September 6.

Jonathan Dunning, UNISON Norfolk branch secretary, said: “We’re hoping they will incorporate our proposals into the report which will go before the council. Our proposals mean Connexions will be left in a state where it can still be a credible service.

“The current proposals, we believe, means it will struggle to deliver the level of service to Norfolk’s young people, because it seems to be relying on a web-based service. That won’t reach some of the young people in parts of Norfolk where the broadband service is poor and access to computers is limited.”

Under the union’s proposals, it is suggested to bring in planned changes to the Connexions structure earlier – in December, rather than January – to enable savings of £2.1m to be made in a full financial year.

That is above the £1.4m the council missed out on after the area budget grant was reduced, but below the £2.8m the council has said it wants to save.

The union says the £700,000 left in the Connexions budget by not cutting £2.8m, plus an additional £250k from not filling new four new management level posts in finance, can be used to provide specialist one to one support for young people and will save about 30 of the under threat jobs and the subsequent redundancy costs.

Paul Morse, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at County Hall, said: “I feel as though young people are taking a disproportionate hit in terms of where cuts are being made.

“This is a knee-jerk reaction by the Tories and they don’t realise the breadth of services that are provided by Connexions.

“It’s ironic that at the moment there’s a focus on young people getting their exam results and, whether they be A-levels or GCSEs, and there’s an emphasis on the fact that there’s a definite shortage of places within education and there’s a difficult labour market which means that it’s the time when our young people need Connexions more than ever.”

Connexions, which gives career advice to young people aged 13 to 19, has six centres across Norfolk: Norwich, North Walsham, Thetford, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and Dereham.

From April 09-10, the service saw 45,000 youngsters across the county and took as many calls. The figure does not include visits to schools, colleges, homes and training centres.

In Norwich alone, more than 1,600 young people walk through the doors of the centre in just one month.

The service does not only help with careers advice but helps point youngsters in the right direction to overcome or deal with a range of issues including homelessness, drugs, teenage pregnancy and sexual health.

Norman Lamb, Lib Dem North Norfolk MP, said: “I went along to the Connexions centre in North Walsham and I met with a large number of youngsters there and couldn’t help but be impressed by the stories they had to tell about the value that they had gained from the service and the type of support that they get.

“It’s very easy to lose a service and then it’s gone for good. There’s an opportunity for reflection now and everybody would be impressed by the county council if they took a step back and thought again about the alternatives being put forward.

“Everybody understands that the savings have to be found, we are not in denial about that at all, but let’s think very carefully about the damage that’s being done here and whether it’s possible to find another way forward.”

A County Hall spokesman said the suggestions from UNISON would be “carefully considered”.

Conservative county councillor Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children’s services, added: “We are still in the consultation process and we are still listening to people with regards to the options available.”

Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP for the Conservative Party, said: “It’s important to have information, guidance and advice for young people and everyone concerned about Connexions should be talking to the county council as it’s a local authority decision, although their funds have been drastically cut as a result of the irresponsibility of the last government.

“I’m doing that as well on behalf of people who have been in touch with me. It’s important to retain as much of the front line service as possible with the funds available but be realistic that some very difficult decisions have to be made because of the financial situation.”

Last month, young people joined forces with redundancy-threatened workers and union activists to save the careers service from the drastic cuts. They protested outside County Hall, but the cuts were still approved.

source


Norfolk Justice For Ian Tomlinson Family Campaign


The Norfolk Justice For Ian Tomlinson Family Campaign will be holding their second monthly picket outside Bethel Street Police Station tomorrow at noon (Sat 21st August).

They request everyone be aware this is a peaceful vigil to show solidarity with the Tomlinson family and people and their banners should reflect said fact.

The Norwich ‘Justice For Ian Tomlinson Family’ Benefit Day website can be found here http://www.justiceforthetomlinsonsday.org.uk/

See you there.


Breaking News:Norwich Ian Tomlinson Solidarity Event


The First National Trade Union Branch To Sponsor This Event Is…

The Norwich branch of the Fire Brigades Union.

This news just received. Motion passed this evening to not only sponsor the event but decision to also send along a speaker in support of the Tomlinson family.

As soon as we find out who the speaker is we will update.

On behalf of the Norwich Justice For Ian Tomlinson Campaign we’d very much like to thank the branch for their solidarity.

http://norwichjusticeforiantomlinson.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/the-first-national-trade-union-branch-to-sponsor-this-event-is/


Connexions Petition


Following our previous report on the campaign to save local youth service Connexions an online petition is now available to sign.

We hope you can take the few seconds to sign it.

Cheers.

http://cnxs.epetitions.net/#stay


RBS Boast Half Year Profits Of £1.1billion While Schools, Hospitals And Universities Face Closure


Not so very long ago the UK government gave the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) approx £45 billion from the public purse. £45 billion equates to over a quarter of the national deficit which is currently being used as an excuse for the most drastic and devastating round of public spending cuts since the second world war. Ultimately the proposed cuts threaten the welfare of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the UK, but hey, as long as the bankers are secure then it was worth it, right?

£45 billion bought the UK public an 84% share in RBS, but the public will see none of the £1.1 billion half-year profits that RBS has recently announced (a tiny percentage of that profit would rebuild our local comprehensive school which burnt down last year, but now will not be rebuilt thanks to the cuts). The so called ‘bail out’ was simply a scam that ensured banking losses would be socialised, once the banks are back in the red – which is happening surprisingly quickly – the mechanisms are in place to ensure all profits will be privatised; the control of currency ensures that the rich get richer and the poor foot the bill – THIS IS THE TRUE NATURE OF GOVERNMENT.

On Sunday 3rd October there will be a ‘DAY OF RAGE’ outside the Tory party conference in Birmingham to protest against the cuts. Anyone who cares about the cuts and the ‘Great Banker Blag’ should get down to Brum to kick off a national militant campaign of resistance.

As for the banks maybe some latter-day Robin Hood will come along to save the day…

http://barnsdale.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/rbs-boast-half-year-profits-of-1-1-billion-while-schools-hospitals-and-universities-face-closure/

Spot on. We couldn’t agree more!