There follow the minutes of our February meeting. Our next monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday 2 March at 7.30 p.m., at the wheelchair-accessible River Lane Centre, River Lane, Cambridge CB5 8HP.
Cambridge People's Assembly, 3 February 2016
- Agreement of the agenda
- Apologies for absence
- Approval of minutes and matters arising
- Secretary's report
- Treasurer's report
- Election of a treasurer
- Update on county cuts protests, 13 and 16 February
- National demonstration, 16 April
- Supporting DSEI demonstrators
- Other business and announcements
- Next meeting
The venue was the River Lane Centre, at 7.30 p.m. Present were Hilary (acting chair), Neil (secretary), Nicki, Richard M., and Steve. Names may have been changed.
The meeting accepted the draft agenda Neil had circulated.
Emma, Kamila, Martin B., Maud, Owen, and Simon had sent their apologies.
Neil wanted to check Dan's suggestion of a direction for the group's activity in 2016 had been rightly understood (see item 9 in the minutes for January). Otherwise the meeting approved the minutes.
(Note: Neil should have confirmed as a matter arising from the minutes that Emma was happy to continue as chair in 2016, as the last meeting had hoped.)
Neil realized he had forgotten to prepare a report. At the later date of 20 February the Cambridge People's Assembly (CPA) had 226 subscribers to its mailing list (last month 225), while 835 Twitter users followed it (810) and 557 Facebook users liked it (548).
The secretary's report would no longer include the group's membership, as it had replaced that category with an informal one of support (see item 6 in the minutes for January).
Maud had supplied a written report. A collection at the January meeting had raised £23.50 income. Expenditure had included £15 for hire of the River Lane Centre and the group's £5 monthly donation to the national organization.
She had not yet paid in a cheque for £55.15 from Global Justice Cambridge, and had not yet received one for the same amount from Cambridge Keep Our NHS Public, both in respect of the joint meeting against TTIP held in October.
The group therefore had a bank balance of £105.27, though its overall financial position was £215.57.
Neil advised the meeting that Maud wished to resign as treasurer and step back from the CPA for personal reasons. The meeting agreed with him that this was a great loss. Neil remembered that it was Maud around whom the group had first gathered in 2013. He had described her to a friend recently as the genius of the group, not only for her abilities but in the tutelary sense one might speak of the genius of a place.
The meeting therefore had to elect a new treasurer. It welcomed Nicki's offer to consider the role.
The last meeting had agreed to hold a demonstration against Cambridgeshire County Council's latest austerity cuts on Saturday 13 February, and another on the day of the crucial Council meeting, Tuesday 16 February (see item 10 in the minutes for January). The first would be a rally with speeches at 12 midday in Market Square, then a march to rally again at the Council's offices at Shire Hall; the second would be a smaller picket from early in the morning at Shire Hall.
Neil had been writing and attending meetings to invite speakers for 13 February, working from the list drawn up in January. Steve would speak as hoped for the CPA. Cambridge and District Trades Council, Cambridge Area Momentum, Cambridge Disabled People Against Cuts, Cambridge Green Party, Cambridge Keep Our NHS Public, Cambridge Unite Community, Cambridge 38 Degrees, Cambridgeshire NUT, and UNISON Cambridgeshire County would all send representatives. The Labour Party county councillors Jocelynne Scutt and Sandra Crawford (Sandra as the representative of Momentum) would speak. The meeting asked Neil also to invite a city councillor from the controlling Labour group to speak.
Neil had designed a leaflet and had 500 copies printed.
Richard had been asked to arrange the loan of a public address system for 13 February, but surprised the meeting with the news that he had bought one.
Maud had been asked to arrange with the police the march route for 13 February, but had been unable to do so because she would not be present on the day. Steve offered to take over this task.
Owen had compiled a valuable list of Cambridgeshire newspapers and newsletters and had gone on to write a press release, which Neil as secretary would send to community newsletters and later post on the CPA blog (see 'A Second Look at the County Cuts', 11 February). For the commercial newspapers Neil would adapt Owen's text, because it was written as a direct argument to move the reader.
The CPA would hold a stall on Saturday 6 February, from 12 midday to 2 p.m. in Market Square. Neil would recover the CPA's table and bring materials to stock it: leaflets, a petition against the Cambridgeshire cuts, and a sign-up sheet for a coach to the forthcoming national demonstration.
A national demonstration, #4Demands: Health, Homes, Jobs, Education, had been called by the People's Assembly for Saturday 16 April. Steve had already suggested to the Trades Council that it should support a CPA coach to the demonstration, and it had provisionally agreed. He would raise the matter formally at the annual general meeting of the Trades Council on 17 February. However the CPA should begin gathering expressions of interest immediately.
Nicki asked whether the group could organize a coach jointly and so share the cost. Richard thought that because it was a People's Assembly demonstration the CPA had to take the lead, though certainly others could contribute. Steve advised looking to local branches of the national signatories.
The next meeting would take forward the organization of a coach.
The group had previously agreed to publish a statement in support of the demonstrators against the DSEI arms fair awaiting criminal trials, among them its friend Angela (see item 9 in the minutes for December), but Neil had failed to draft one in time for the January meeting. He now read his draft, which the meeting approved for publication (see 'Statement in Support of the DSEI Defendants', 4 February).
The meeting agreed that the CPA would donate £30 towards the incidental expenses the demonstrators would meet in preparing their defences (transport and childcare costs, for example).
Steve suggested sharing the statement with the Trades Council and local unions.
Those present were happy with the current venue.
Steve noted that Hinchingbrooke Hospital, abandoned by the private Circle company which had taken over its operation, was coming to public attention again for two reasons: first, its potential merger with Peterborough, to the risk of some services, and second, the continued rating of its services as inadequate. The Hands Off Hinchingbrooke campaign was therefore being resumed.
Richard noted that the national demonstration Stop Trident, against the renewal of the nuclear weapons system, would be held in London on Saturday 27 February. Coach transport from Cambridge would be provided by Cambridge Stop the War.
He also noted that a public meeting organized by Cambridge Stand Up to Racism would be held on Tuesday 1 March in Keynes Hall, King's College, ahead of a national demonstration on Saturday 19 March. ('The Tories do have something to offer apart from austerity,' Richard suggested. 'Sadly, it's racism.') Again coach transport should be available.
The meeting noted that the junior doctors of the British Medical Association would be striking for a second time on Wednesday 10 February against the unfair, unsafe new contract the government wanted to introduce. Nicki would be able to visit their picket line as the representative of the CPA.
The next meeting would be held at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 2 March, at the same venue of the River Lane Centre. Neil would book the venue.