Minutes of the August CPA meeting

There follow the minutes of our August meeting. Our next monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday 6 September at 7.30 p.m., at the wheelchair-accessible River Lane Centre, River Lane, Cambridge CB5 8HP.


Cambridge People's Assembly, 2 August 2017

  1. Agreement of the agenda
  2. Apologies for absence
  3. Approval of the minutes and matters arising
  4. Secretary's report
  5. Treasurer's report
  6. Coach to Take Back Manchester, 1 October
  7. Proposal to join campaign against City Deal/Greater Cambridge Partnership
  8. Homelessness and foodbanks
  9. Other business
  10. Next meeting

The venue was the River Lane Centre, at 7.30 p.m. Present were Dan, Faraz, Hilary, Jenny, Joshua, Lucy, Martin B., Neil (secretary), Nicki (treasurer), Nik, and Richard M. (campaign and meeting chair). Names may have been changed.

1. Agreement of the agenda

The meeting accepted the draft Neil had prepared, including a new item on homelessness and foodbanks.

2. Apologies for absence

Mick had sent his apologies.

3. Approval of the minutes and matters arising

The meeting approved the minutes of the July meeting and there were no matters arising.

4. Secretary's report

Neil reported 255 subscribers to the Cambridge People's Assembly's (CPA's) mailing list (no change from last month), while 964 Twitter users followed it (969) and 630 Facebook users liked it (623).

He apologized that with his wedding last month, he had only finished and published the minutes for July earlier that day, so that it had been impossible for Nicki as treasurer to begin the group's application for a new bank account as resolved under item 5. The bank required the minutes as supporting documentation.

5. Treasurer's report

Nicki reported overall funds of £1,871.88. Income last month was a £16 collection at the July meeting; expenditure was £660 on coach hire, £11.15 on travel expenses, and £5 on the group's regular donation to the national People's Assembly.

She advised the meeting that the CPA's current bank would close its Cambridge branch at the end of September, which set an effective deadline for the signatories (herself, Neil, and Richard) to complete the transfer of the group's account.

6. Coach to Take Back Manchester, 1 October

Neil had booked a wheelchair-accessible coach to the demonstration, as agreed at the last meeting. The coach would seat 48 people and cost £1,100. As for other arrangements, the meeting realized another group's keen encouragement had accidentally set Neil and other CPA supporters working unwittingly against each other, and strictly ahead of the CPA's decisions. It untangled the confusion and found no harm had been done.

The meeting discussed seat pricing, and agreed to repeat the prices the CPA used for its successful coach to Manchester in 2015: £15 (waged, full-time), £10 (waged, part-time), and £5 (unwaged). Seats would however be free for children under 14.

It had been suggested on the CPA's e-mail discussion list that the coach could leave Manchester later so that people could attend events after the main rally, but the meeting agreed with Richard's point that Cambridge people would be giving up a lot of time to support the demo in the first place, and could not all be expected to accept a late arrival back home. The coach should leave Manchester at 4.30 p.m.

The meeting agreed that the CPA should produce a leaflet. Nicki volunteered as writer and Dan as graphic designer; Richard should be able to print it. The group would hold one or two street stalls to distribute the leaflet, with the first on Saturday 16 September.

The meeting agreed a list of friendly local political organizations and trade unions to invite to join the coach. Trade unions should be invited to contribute to the hire price if possible.

Dan announced that an activist in a friendly organization had called a meeting for 9 March (later changed to 14 March), for local activists to discuss how they could work together to build the coach. CPA supporters would try to attend.

7. Proposal to join campaign against City Deal/Greater Cambridge Partnership

Neil advised the meeting that The Cambridge Commons (TCC) had asked the CPA to join it, residents' associations, and others in a campaign against the Greater Cambridge Partnership (formerly City Deal). TCC believed that it would foster economic growth without regard to the increased inequality, soaring housing costs, and transport congestion that growth would bring.

A member of TCC had hoped to attend the meeting, but had not been able. For himself, Neil was unsure that the issue was a suitable one for the CPA, which unlike TCC was not competent to carry out the detailed evaluation of technical policy. He believed the PA was a populist campaign which aimed to mobilize people against broad policies whose effects could be readily grasped.

The meeting agreed that a representative of TCC should be invited in September to explain the campaign in his or her own words.

8. Homelessness and foodbanks

The group had discussed these linked subjects in its March and July meetings, but without a practical conclusion, despite Dan's proposals that it should donate to a local foodbank. Neil believed the discussions had shown a consensus that the CPA's intervention had to be political, attacking the austerity policies that increased people's risk of homelessness and destitution (as the law prevented charities from doing themselves). He suggested that the group should produce a text that explained the connection, which would be the basis for a campaign that could include Dan's proposed donation.

Nicki suggested that a text would be strengthened by quotes from foodbank workers, even if these had to be anonymous. Nik volunteered to draft a text.

9. Other business

Richard announced that the annual Burston School Strike rally would be held on Sunday 3 September, and that Cambridge and District Trades Council would organize a coach.

Martin announced that Stand Up to Racism would hold its annual conference on Saturday 21 October at the Friends' Meeting House, Euston Road, London.

10. Next meeting

The next meeting would be held at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 6 September, at the same venue of the River Lane Centre.

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