"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 November, 2010

Norfolk fire service cuts get green light (EDP article)

Major Norwich Fire at Zizzi Restaurant in October...

Controversial plans to cut fire cover in Norfolk were given the green light yesterday amid fresh fears that lives and historic buildings in the centre of Norwich could be put at risk.

Norfolk County Council approved the £1.5m cuts as part of a new safety plan aimed at boosting cover in rural areas and King’s Lynn.

As part of the changes the number of fire engines in Norwich would be cut from five to four after the opening of the new Carrow Station in Trowse, near Norwich, following the closure of Bethel Street, with 24 jobs lost.

Across the county a further 12 jobs will be lost at six retained fire stations, Cromer, Dereham, Diss, Fakenham, Sandringham, and Wymondham. But moves to scrap the retained crew at Gorleston have been put on hold for 12 months, though councillors were unable to give assurances that the proposals will not be revisited in the future.

The monitoring of rules governing a maximum 15 minute response time for second crews at some incidents was also scrapped.

Labour councillor Bert Bremner told county councillors that the plans were a “Tory gamble”, which would affect the safety of firefighters and the public, particularly in the Norwich area.

“At the big Zizzi’s fire last month in the centre of Norwich there were at least six fire fighting appliances and 40 fire-fighters,” Mr Bremner said. “Zizzi’s was right next to the beautiful Ethelbert Gate, one of Norwich’s treasured medieval buildings.

“The first crew to get to the fire was the second Norwich pump, the one Tory Norfolk will cut. What is to replace this second fire engine?

“The Tory cuts will mean only five fire-fighters are on duty at North Earlham so no speedy arrival of the ‘Aerial Ladder Platform’ and far greater damage and far greater risk of fire spreading. The Ethelbert Gate would have been at risk.”

Harry Humphrey, cabinet member for fire and rescue, said: “We have got reduced risk, and we have got action being taken with a new fire station at Carrow, which will result in Norwich being ringed by fire stations at Sprowston, Earlham and at Carrow.”


We watch with interest the FBU’s response to this major threat to the people of Norfolk…


FITWATCH Back Online



Norfolk FBU Members Hit London

More than 100 members of Norfolk branches of the FBU joined other regional branches and marched on Parliament today.

Over 2,000 firefighters rallied in Westminster Central Hall, London. Hundreds then protested outside Downing Street while others went into pParliament to lobby MPs.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack told the rally, “We face a pay freeze and huge attacks on jobs and conditions as part of an ideological, political assault against public services.”

And addressing other trade unions he said, ” If it means striking together, then so be it, we are entering the fight of our lives. ”

Beating Police Repression After The Student Occupation.

In solidarity with FITWATCH please read, digest and act on.

Apparently the post below attempts to ‘pervert the course of justice’ and the Fitwatch blog was subsequently suspended on request of one Acting Detective Inspector Will Hodgeson from CO11 as part of Operation Malone.

Most people in this country are still under the illusion that it would take ‘the due process of law’ such as an order from a court to shut a blog down rather than a request by a lowly ‘Acting Detective Inspector’..but there you go, sign of the times.


The remarkable and brilliant student action at Millbank has produced some predictable frothing at the mouth from the establishment and right wing press. Cameron has called for the ‘full weight of the law’ to fall on those who had caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage to the expensive decor at Tory party HQ. Responsibility is being placed on ‘a violent faction’, after the march was ‘infiltrated’ by anarchists.
There are an encouraging number of intiatives to show solidarity with the arrested students – something that is vital if they are to avoid the sort of punitive ‘deterrent’ sentences handed out to the Gaza demonstrators. A legal support group has been established and the National Campaign against Cuts and Fees has started a support campaign. Goldsmiths lecturers union has publicly commended the students for a‘magnificent demonstration’.
This is all much needed, as the establishment is clearly on the march with this one. The Torygraph has published an irresponsible and frenzied ‘shop-a-student’ piece and the Met are clearly under pressure to produce ‘results’ after what they have admitted was a policing ‘embarrassment’.
51 people have been arrested so far, and the police have claimed they took the details of a further 250 people in the kettle using powers under the Police Reform Act. There may be more arrests to come.
Students who are worried should consider taking the following actions:
If you have been arrested, or had your details taken – contact the legal support campaign. As a group you can support each other, and mount a coherent campaign.
If you fear you may be arrested as a result of identification by CCTV, FIT or press photography;
DONT panic. Press photos are not necessarily conclusive evidence, and just because the police have a photo of you doesn’t mean they know who you are.
DONT hand yourself in. The police often use the psychological pressure of knowing they have your picture to persuade you to ‘come forward’. Unless you have a very pressing reason to do otherwise, let them come and find you, if they know who you are.
DO get rid of your clothes. There is no chance of suggesting the bloke in the video is not you if the clothes he is wearing have been found in your wardrobe. Get rid of ALL clothes you were wearing at the demo, including YOUR SHOES, your bag, and any distinctive jewellery you were wearing at the time. Yes, this is difficult, especially if it is your only warm coat or decent pair of boots. But it will be harder still if finding these clothes in your flat gets you convicted of violent disorder.
DONT assume that because you can identify yourself in a video, a judge will be able to as well. ‘That isn’t me’ has got many a person off before now.
DO keep away from other demos for a while. The police will be on the look-out at other demos, especially student ones, for people they have put on their ‘wanted’ list. Keep a low profile.
DO think about changing your appearance. Perhaps now is a good time for a make-over. Get a haircut and colour, grow a beard, wear glasses. It isn’t a guarantee, but may help throw them off the scent.
DO keep your house clean. Get rid of spray cans, demo related stuff, and dodgy texts / photos on your phone. Don’t make life easy for them by having drugs, weapons or anything illegal in the house.
DO get the name and number of a good lawyer you can call if things go badly. The support group has the names of recommended lawyers on their site. Take a bit of time to read up on your rights in custody, especially the benefits of not commenting in interview.
DO be careful who you speak about this to. Admit your involvement in criminal damage / disorder ONLY to people you really trust.
DO try and control the nerves and panic. Waiting for a knock on the door is stressful in the extreme, but you need to find a way to get on with business as normal. Otherwise you’ll be serving the sentence before you are even arrested.

Norwich pensioners urged to have say on cuts

Chance for older people to have their say

The next meeting of the Norwich Older People’s Forum (NOPF) is later this month, and the agenda focuses on how budget cuts might affect social care for older people.

Representatives from Norfolk County Council are attending to discuss and answer your questions about the affect on cuts to the adult social care budget as a result of the government’s comprehensive spending review.

Lady Joyce Hopwood, chair of the NOPF, said: “We know that major cuts are being planned to social care for older people. At the next forum meeting, you have a big opportunity to have your say on what these cuts will mean for you and what you think of them.

“You can influence which cuts are put in place and how. I would urge everyone to come along and have your say to those in charge of social care at Norfolk County Council. This is not in the city’s control, but we have the chance to have an influence – take it!”

Panel members are:

Councillor David Harwood – cabinet member for community services
Harold Bodmer – director of community services
James Bullion – assistant director of community services
This is your chance to be heard – don’t waste it!

The meeting will be held on Friday 19 November 2010, from 10am to 12.30pm at Blackfriars Hall, St Andrews Plain, Norwich, NR3 1AU.

We’d have thought ‘Lady Joyce’ would oppose ALL and ANY cuts to social care for older people…or are we being slightly naive…

WE certainly know that SHE knows in reality this meeting will have absolutely no influence what so ever over Tory lunatics such as David Harwood.

Lecturers’ president backs student resistance

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent

There have been more than 50 arrests following the tuition fee protests

The lecturers’ union president has signed a statement refusing to condemn protesters who attacked a Conservative party building last week.

Alan Whitaker has joined calls to “rally behind all who were arrested for fighting to defend their education”.

A radical students’ group has also threatened to target Lib Dem offices and Downing Street next week.

But the UCU union’s official spokesman rejected last week’s violence as “totally unacceptable”.

Backing “acts of resistance”, the lecturers’ statement has been signed by 24 members of the University and College Union’s national executive.

The UCU spokesman said the statement supporting the arrested students had been signed in a personal capacity by lecturers and was not the union’s official policy.

But the scale of support among the union’s leadership for this latest statement suggests deep divisions in the response to the outbreak of violence, during a protest march against raising tuition fees.

There are also divisions among student protestors, with student activists set to reject the more moderate strategy of the NUS leadership.

The Education Activist Network has warned that the Liberal Democrat headquarters will be targeted in the next wave of protests, set for 24 November.

The protesters are calling for students and their supporters to stage a walk-out and then to demonstrate outside Liberal Democrat offices and then Downing Street.

Alan Whitaker, national president of the UCU, has joined about a third of the union’s national executive, in calling on university and college staff to “stand with those students who were arrested”.

“We will not side with those who condemn the violence against windows and property but will not condemn or even name the long-term violence of cuts that will scar the lives of hundreds of thousands by denying them access to the education of their choice,” says the statement.

“The victimisation of individuals for acts of resistance is something that our movement has a proud record of opposing,” says the statement.

There have been more than 50 arrests following the storming of the building.

And there was widespread criticism, including from Downing Street, of lecturers who had appeared to be sympathetic to the occupation of the Millbank building.

But the spokesman for the latest lecturers’ statement, Tom Hickey, says it is “pure hypocrisy” for lecturers to be expected to either condemn or condone the occupation last week.

He says demonstrators were provoked by the government’s decision to “privatise” higher education, without any mandate from voters.

Mr Hickey, who lectures at the University of Brighton, says he expects the lecturers’ union to back a campaign for the defence of those who were arrested during the demonstration.


Opinion: Momentum, Momentum, Momentum

Momentum is everything in politics and now we have it. Instead of a one-off isolated event like G20 we now have a series of actions week after week. Novembrer 24th walk out now encompasses occupying Lib Dem constituency offices and is to be followed by action against tax avoiding companies on december 4th.

The violent attacks on Tory HQ far from alienating public opinion has energised it. A quick trawl through the Sunday Papers reveals columnists like Suzanne Moore in the Mail on Sunday standing 4 square with the violent students and is replicated by opnion pieces elsewhere not only in the liberal media but in the right wing ones. Where commentators are not in support they are fearful. take Martin Ivens in the Sunday Times : ‘If a rash of violent disputes were to become a settled pattern the coalition government might look as if it were no longer in control, the agenda of early cuts too confrontational, it’s narrative of national salvation could be challenged.Public opinion is the prize. Who runs the country asked Ted Heath.Clearly not you replied the voters’.

Nick Clegg’s u-turn on student fees has alienated the middle classes into a temporary alliance with the proles.’What would happen now if nurses took to the streets against NHS cuts? Liberal opinion would be with them as well. The government could fall. It’s all to play for – but the door is open now – NOW is the time to push further. Forget next March – the next 4 weeks will be decisive. Go for it.

Ian Bone