Minutes of the December CPA meeting

Please find below the minutes of our December meeting. Our next meeting will be held on Wednesday 7 January at 7.30 p.m., CB2 Bistro, Norfolk Street, Cambridge CB1 2LD.


Cambridge People's Assembly, 3 December 2014

The venue was the CB2 Bistro library, at 7.30 p.m. Present were Dan, Hilary (acting chair), Martin B., Maud, Neil (minute taker), Olivier, and Thomas. Names may have been changed.

1. Apologies

Kamila, Paul, and Simon sent their apologies.

2. Minutes and matters arising

The minutes were approved and there were no matters arising.

3. Secretary's report

Maud reported that 263 Facebook users liked the Cambridge People's Assembly (CPA), and that on Twitter it had 512 followers. The number of subscribers to the CPA mailing list was not readily available.

She added that 160 Facebook users had been invited to the 'Say No to TTIP' event the following night, and 39 had said they would come.

4. Treasurer's report

Neil reported a balance of £163.20. He asked the meeting to note a record collection at the last monthly meeting of £35; expenditure relating to the One Million Climate Jobs event held on 22 November of £44 on venue hire (offset by a £22 contribution received from the joint host, the Cambridge Friends of the Earth) and of £34.20 on the speaker's travel expenses (to be offset by a contribution volunteered by a CPA member, not yet received); and forthcoming expenditure relating to the Say No to TTIP event of £60 on venue hire and unknown travel expenses (to be shared with the joint host, the Cambridge World Development Movement, or WDM).

Maud noted that the hire price of £60 for the 'Say No to TTIP' venue, the Unitarian Church, included a considerable discount. The meeting was grateful for the church's kindness.

Olivier reminded the treasurer of a receipt he had been shown five minutes earlier, for £24 spent on printed publicity materials for 'Say No to TTIP'.

5. New constitution and first Annual General Meeting

Paul had supplied the latest draft of the new constitution he had supervised, which was reviewed for the fourth and final time.

The substantive change agreed was that membership and affiliation should be distinct categories, the first available to individuals and the second to associations – although this was only to recognize differences already clear in the draft (for example, individuals were to pay annual fees, but not associations; individuals were to be able to vote in meetings, but not associations). Various minor changes to words, word order, and document order were agreed; also agreed was that the items of the constitution should be numbered for reference. Neil volunteered to amend the draft.

The next meeting would be held as the Annual General Meeting envisaged in the new constitution, and would vote on the adoption of the constitution.

6. CPA event with John Hilary, 4 December ('Say No to TTIP')

As already mentioned, the venue Maud had arranged was the Unitarian Church. The meeting agreed that (with the agreement of the joint host) Olivier should be the master of ceremonies, and that representatives of both host associations, the CPA and the Cambridge WDM, should have five minutes to introduce themselves before the guest speaker began.

Maud noted that a number of city councils had recently passed motions against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), including Oxford, Southampton, and Leicester. She suggested that at this event the CPA should launch a petition for Cambridge City Council to do the same. Olivier remembered that local government opposition had been effective against the earlier General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs.

Maud presented a fully-argued draft petition to the meeting, which was discussed and amended. A short version she presented was approved without changes. Neil suggested that as people attending the event perhaps would not read the full petition, the short text alone could be the petition, and the long text could be an accompanying submission in the name of the CPA.

The meeting discussed how an electronic petition could be created. A number of websites were suggested, including 38 Degrees and ePetitions. Maud volunteered to look into the options and create an e-petition as soon as possible.

7. Establishment of an e-mail discussion list

At the last meeting Thomas had suggested an e-mail discussion list for CPA members. He advised that there were a few ways in which this could be done, from using Google Groups (quite easy, and list members did not need to have Google accounts) to setting up a computer as a dedicated e-mail server (more complicated). Dan suggested a forum or message board as an alternative, but the meeting leant towards an e-mail list.

Maud volunteered to find out what system was used for the TTIP discussion list, to which she subscribed. Thomas volunteered to create the CPA discussion list.

8. Other web communications

Neil advised the meeting that he had been updating a CPA blog in a new location on the central People's Assembly site, as discussed at the last meeting. One of the items he had posted was the minutes of that meeting, and the present meeting confirmed that it was happy for minutes to be published. Olivier confirmed that minutes had been published on the former blog, and Dan added that this openness seemed to fit with the ethos of the People's Assembly.

9. Other business

Maud noted that a theatre group with a play about austerity was prepared to forgo travel expenses to perform it in Cambridge, if the CPA could provide a venue. The meeting welcomed the idea. Dan suggested that the CPA should ask first if there was anything the group would require of a venue.

Thomas remarked on the importance of communicating the proven economic argument against austerity, which he had been studying in his recent reading. It was important that the CPA should seek to persuade people on that question. Olivier believed that the point was already accepted, recalling that the CPA had begun publishing a series of book reviews on the web and that it had hosted popular talks by the economists Andrew Gamble and Ha-Joon Chang. He suggested that the CPA should organize another event on economics for February, perhaps in collaboration with the excellent student society, the Cambridge Society for Economic Pluralism (CSEP). Thomas also offered to prepare himself a book review or other article for the CPA blog.

(Note: it was well understood that the CSEP has no collective position on austerity and does not campaign on questions of public policy, its object being precisely to reintroduce a variety of perspectives to the university economics curriculum. Forms of collaboration can easily be envisaged nonetheless.)

Maud noted that Paula Champion of the Cambridgeshire National Union of Teachers was interested in collaborating on an event to mark International Women's Day, on 8 March 2015 (Paula had spoken at the CPA's Women's Day event in 2014). The meeting welcomed the idea.

Olivier noted that there was a march in London on Saturday 6 December in support of a Tres Cosas campaign organizer being victimized by the School of Oriental and African Studies in the University of London.

10. Next meeting

It was agreed that the next meeting should be held at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 7 January in the same venue. Hilary would book the room.

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