Thursday, 26 May 2011

Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance gets off to a great start

Around twenty people packed in to the snug at the back of the Crown pub at the bottom of Bread Street in Penzance, Cornwall last night to officially form the Penwith Anti-Cuts Alliance. The group was originally going to be called the Penzance Anti-Cuts Alliance but so many people came from the surrounding area that the meeting decided to expand the remit of the group. People came from Gulval, St.Ives, Carbis Bay, St. Just and Sennen as well as Penzance itself. There were individuals from the Green Party, the Labour Party, Mebyon Kernow (cornish nationalists) and the Socialist Workers Party as well as many people in no party. Unison, PCS and CWU trade union members were also present.

Many people were very angry at the coalition government's attacks on ordinary people and, in particular, the elderly, disabled, sick and vulnerable. People talked about how this government is continuing the agenda of Thatcher's government, but taking it further and more quickly. Many people spoke eloquently of their disgust at government policies and said that the level of anger amongst ordinary people in the area meant that there was much we could do to campaign against the policies of the government. People were angry that banks and bankers had caused the crisis and were still getting their profits and bonuses while ordinary people were paying a heavy price for bankers' and politicians' mistakes. And some spoke of the shocking fact that £120 billion in tax is either evaded, avoided or uncollected every year. This amounts to three-quarters of the deficit.

Cornelius Olivier, Chair of the Constituency Labour Party, spoke about the break-up of the National Health Service (NHS) in Cornwall and how local hospitals and community nursing was being outsourced to a 'community interest company'.

Tim Andrewes, a Green Party councillor in St. Ives spoke about the crisis in the building of new social housing, the changes to how housing benefit is paid and the impact this will have on local people.

Suzy Messenger, who works for a community development trust, spoke about the scandal of people being moved off disability benefit and on to job seekers allowance in order for the government to save money despite those individuals being unable to work.

The meeting discussed the current NHS campaign and it was felt that we could write a letter, calling on Andrew George MP to vote against the Health and Social Care Bill and try to get it signed by as many local general practitioners as possible.

The meeting also decided to produce a newsletter which we would distribute door-to-door as well as on a stall in the town, possibly on a Saturday.

Finally, the meeting discussed the day of co-ordinated action on 30 June. It was decided to approach local trade union representatives about the possiblity of a lunch-time rally on the day in which we could demonstrate our support.

It was agreed that the group would be a branch of Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance and all the membership forms available for that organisation were eagerly taken and most were filled out and handed back in immediately. There was a collection that amounted to around £50 and it was agreed that the next meeting would be at the same time and place in two weeks time, Wednesday 8 June.

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