There follow the minutes of our August meeting. Our next monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday 7 September at 7.30 p.m., at the wheelchair-accessible River Lane Centre, River Lane, Cambridge CB5 8HP.
Cambridge People's Assembly, 3 August 2016
- Agreement of the agenda
- Apologies for absence
- Approval of last month's minutes and matters arising
- Secretary's report
- Treasurer's report
- Election of a campaign chair
- Report on No More Austerity, No to Racism, 16 July
- Next meeting of the national Assembly body, 3 September
- Demonstration at the Conservative conference, 2 October
- Library reservation fee campaign
- Update from The Cambridge Commons
- Other business and announcements
- Next meeting and collection
The venue was the River Lane Centre, at 7.30 p.m. Present were Arminio, Emma, Hilary, Jenny, Martin, Neil (secretary), Nicki (treasurer), Richard M. (acting chair), and Shelagh. Names may have been changed.
Neil apologized that he had omitted from his draft agenda two items to which the last meeting had agreed to return: discussions towards a statement on allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party, and of how to improve the Cambridge People's Assembly's (CPA's) stalls. Richard suggested that these issues could be taken up if there was time.
Otherwise the meeting accepted Neil's draft.
Ally, Bill, Maud, and Stuart had sent their apologies.
The meeting approved the minutes, and there were no matters arising.
Neil reported 253 subscribers to the CPA's mailing list (the same number as last month), while 910 Twitter users followed it (902), and 598 Facebook users liked it (599).
Neil thanked Nicki for having taken over the administration of the group's Twitter feed earlier in the year. He advised the meeting that the CPA's Facebook page looked neglected now that some former administrators had withdrawn from the group, and asked whether anyone would be willing to take it on. Nicki volunteered to adminster that page too.
Nicki reported a bank balance of £205.03. The collection at the July meeting had raised £21.65. The group has spent £5 on its monthly donation to the national People's Assembly (PA), and £22.50 on venue hire for April, May, and June.
Forthcoming coach hire costs were discussed later, under items 7 and 9.
Richard was nominated and elected as chair after Emma's resignation for personal reasons in July.
Richard reported on this national demonstration, called jointly by the People's Assembly (PA and Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) to defy the racism that had been encouraged by June's referendum vote to leave the EU. About 30 people from Cambridge had travelled on the coach organized by the CPA and Cambridge SUTR to join 10,000 in London. They had heard some good speakers, including several trade union leaders, and a message read from Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party. Many of the speakers had agreed that the reason racism was being stoked was to divide people, making them less able to resist austerity. Richard recalled a chant: 'Theresa May, hear us say / Migrant workers here to stay!'
Jenny thought it had been a good demonstration, especially having been organized at short notice. She was glad that Theresa May, the new Conservative prime minister, had been welcomed with a protest three days after her appointment.
Neil reported that the secretary of Cambridge SUTR had written to let him know the cost of the coach hire. The meeting agreed to pay £130 to Cambridge SUTR, representing an equal division of the outstanding cost after the funds raised from passengers and a generous individual supporter.
Neil was nominated and elected to attend the meeting of the PA's representative body, but later realized he could not attend that day. Hilary was later selected to attend the meeting.
The meeting agreed that Neil should provisionally book a wheelchair-accessible coach to Birmingham for this date, and create an Eventbrite page for passengers to book places.
Neil drew attention to the CPA's almost exhausted funds. The coach would certainly cost over £500, which would need to be paid up front. He suggested reluctantly that the group should sell tickets, rather than asking passengers for donations. Jenny asked whether the CPA had sold tickets before, and the meeting confirmed that it had done (note: for its very first coach in June 2014, then for its coach to Manchester in October 2015). After debate the meeting agreed on two price levels, of £12 (waged) and £6 (unwaged). Tickets should remain free for children under 14.
Martin would seek help with funds from the Trades Council.
The group would publicize the coach online and by e-mail for now; later, with leaflets and stall. Shelagh brought the meeting up to date on the struggle by teachers, parents, and students against Conservative reforms in education at all levels – one of the first actions of Theresa May's government had been to abolish the remaining student maintenance grants – and suggested that schools should be a focus for publicity.
Nicki planned to write in a personal capacity to local newspapers, to explain the special impact of the new reservation fee on readers with disabilities who relied on audio books.
As for action by the CPA, Neil had not found chance to prepare the Freedom of Information (FOI) requests agreed by the last meeting. Jenny volunteered to take over this task.
Stuart from The Cambridge Commons (TCC) had given his apologies that he was unable to attend the meeting. Neil read a few paragraphs from the disturbing conclusion of TCC's fifth and latest report, The Cambridge Health Gap.
Residents of Cambridge, a small city which has benefited from enormous economic growth ... must reflect on how its growing wealth, economic and academic resources have enriched some two thirds of the population without improving the quality of life for the other third.
The meeting agreed that the CPA should do what it could to help publicize TCC's work. Neil as secretary was asked to circulate the report with his next notice to the mailing list. Neil suggested that someone might like to review the report for the CPA blog.
Hilary noted that Cambridge Keep Our NHS Public would hold a stall outside the Grafton Centre on Saturday 6 August, between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.
Arminio asked whether the CPA or its parent PA had a view on the plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. Richard was not sure the PA had a policy on nuclear power: supporters might have different views.
Arminio recalled the reference to antisemitism at the beginning of the meeting, and urged that allegations of racism and antisemitism must not be made lightly. He believed that unfounded allegations were counterproductive.
Richard noted that the next Trades Council meeting would have a speaker from the Free Speech on Israel campaign, to address the allegations against the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.
The next meeting would be held at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 7 September, at the same venue of the River Lane Centre.