Minutes of the January CPA meeting

There follow the minutes of our January meeting, which was our annual general meeting for 2017, with the group's constitution as revised there attached. Our next monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday 1 February at 7.30 p.m., at the wheelchair-accessible River Lane Centre, River Lane, Cambridge CB5 8HP.


Cambridge People's Assembly, 4 January 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. Amendment of the constitution
  7. Election of officers
  8. Directions for 2017
  9. Library reservation charge campaign
  10. I, Daniel Blake screening
  11. Action for the NHS, including 4 March national demonstration
  12. Action against pharmacy cuts
  13. Other business and announcements
  14. Next meeting

The venue was the River Lane Centre, at 7.30 p.m. Present were Faraz, Herminio, Jenny, Justin, Martin B., Neil (secretary), Nicki (treasurer), and Richard M. (chair). Names may have been changed.

1. Agreement of the agenda

Neil noted that he had widened item 11 from the draft circulated on the Cambridge People's Assembly's (CPA's) mailing list, so as to include preparations for the Our NHS demonstration on 4 March. The meeting accepted the revised agenda.

At Neil's suggestion, the meeting marked the death of the writer John Berger on 2 January.

2. Apologies for absence

Dan and Hilary had sent their apologies.

3. Approval of the minutes and matters arising

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

4. Secretary's report

Neil reported 246 subscribers to the CPA's mailing list (no change from last month), while 939 Twitter users followed it (926) and 594 Facebook users liked it (595).

5. Treasurer's report

Nicki reported a bank balance of £251.26. Income last month was a collection of £23 at the meeting, and expenditure was £5 on the group's regular donation to the national office.

6. Amendment of the constitution

Neil suggested that the group's second constitution should be amended to provide for a review meeting in July, which would have some powers otherwise reserved for the annual general meeting (AGM). Nicki pointed out that constitutions often provided for extraordinary general meetings (EGMs) with just such powers; Neil agreed this was better. He accepted Richard's suggestion that an EGM should require the agreement of all the officers.

Neil therefore proposed that the following text was inserted after section 5, and later clauses renumbered:

6. Extraordinary general meetings

6.1. An extraordinary general meeting (EGM) may be called by the agreement of all the officers.

6.2. An EGM shall have the power to amend the constitution and to elect officers as provided under section 5 above, and to dissolve the organization as provided under section 12 below.

6.3. Notice of one month shall be given for an EGM.

The proposal was carried with six votes for it, none against, and two abstentions. The revised second constitution is attached below.

7. Election of officers

The absent Hilary had nominated Richard, Nicki, and Neil as chair, treasurer, and secretary respectively. Jenny seconded their nominations and they were elected as a slate with seven votes for them, none against, and one abstention.

8. Directions for 2017

Neil urged that the group should return to the problem which had preoccupied Maud in autumn 2015, which was how to make the CPA into an effective local umbrella campaign. He suggested one way might be to create officer positions with topical responsibility – say for housing, healthcare, education, antiracism, disability rights, and trade unions – and co-opt representatives of the local organizations which led on each issue.

Nicki, Jenny, and Richard agreed this was a direction to follow. Nicki suggested that the arrangement could be offered as a reciprocal one, noting that membership of some of the other groups already overlapped with that of the CPA. Richard noted that in the short term, it was always useful to circulate other campaigns.

Justin criticized the strategy of the CPA and its parent People's Assembly (PA). It was a mass of people – for what? It needed to pursue politics and working-class consciousness. Nicki countered that the CPA could be and was strongly political without endorsing a party; Neil agreed. Richard believed there had to be a pole outside the Labour Party, like the PA, for people who wanted to fight austerity.

Faraz asked about the CPA's links with other PA groups in the region. Richard noted that the Norfolk People's Assembly, based in Norwich, was active; Jenny remembered the North Herts group had recently contacted the CPA hoping to make a link (see item 3 in the minutes for December). There was general agreement that the group should strive for better regional links. Nicki added that the CPA could ask the national office to encourage other local groups to use the blogs provided for them on the PA website.

Nicki urged that the CPA should pay attention to homelessness in Cambridge, which had so strikingly increased. Funding nationally had halved, while the numbers of people sleeping rough had doubled: the group should explain the connection of these trends to austerity policies. She also hoped the CPA could find the capacity to keep up with benefit cuts and sanctions in the new year.

9. Library reservation charge campaign

Neil reported that 500 copies of a new leaflet had been printed, which he would collect. He suggested that now the reservation charge had been in force for six months, a further request under the Freedom of Information Act could be made to find out how much it had depressed service use and how much money it had raised. Jenny volunteered to draft and submit this request.

Neil outlined a plan for direct action to launch the leaflet and put pressure on the county council. The meeting approved his plan, and he would proceed to organize the action.

10. I, Daniel Blake screening

Neil reported that Cambridge Area Momentum had also been planning to show I, Daniel Blake, and had a venue in mind, but that it was interested in a collaboration with the CPA. He would continue to correspond with its organizers.

11. Action for the NHS, including 4 March national demonstration

Neil had not been able to draft an update to the CPA's statement of 8 November against the NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans, which would respond to the publication of the local plan at the end of November. He would try to do so before the next meeting. Nicki advised him that a useful new summary had been published.

The meeting discussed the Our NHS demonstration called by Health Campaigns Together and the People's Assembly for 4 March. It agreed that the CPA should organize a coach, as long as this did not conflict with any plans by Cambridge Keep Our NHS Public: Nicki would check with that group.

Neil would book a coach and set up an Eventbrite page to handle seat booking. The meeting expected the hire price to be over £500. It agreed that the CPA should charge for seats, and agreed prices of £5 (unwaged), £10 (waged), and £15 (solidarity). Nicki reminded the meeting of the need to prepare leaflets to publicize the coach.

12. Action against pharmacy cuts

As time was short, this item was omitted.

13. Other business and announcements

Martin reminded the meeting that Cambridge Stand Up to Racism would hold a demonstration in Market Square on 21 January, the day after Donald Trump's inauguration as president of the USA, supported by the CPA. Stand Up to Racism would hold its national conference on 4 February, and a national demonstration on 18 March.

Neil reported that he and Dan had attended in December the screening of the film Siete días en PAH Barcelona (Seven days in PAH Barcelona) by the Spanish emigrants' organization Marea Granate, responding to its invitation. The film had been inspiring, and he had introduced himself to the organizers.

14. Next meeting

The next meeting would be held at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 1 February, at the same venue of the River Lane Centre.


Second constitution (revised) of the Cambridge People's Assembly

  1. Name of the organisation
  2. Aims and objectives
  3. Support
  4. Affiliation
  5. Annual general meeting
  6. Extraordinary general meetings
  7. Organising meetings
  8. Recall of officers
  9. Finance
  10. Powers
  11. Review of the constitution
  12. Dissolution

1. Name of the organisation

1.1. The name of the organisation shall be the Cambridge People's Assembly Against Austerity, also to be called the Cambridge People's Assembly (CPA).

2. Aims and objectives

2.1. The CPA is a local branch of the national People's Assembly, which has been set up to campaign against the political programme of austerity.

2.2. The CPA recognises that austerity will only be defeated if those that oppose cuts work together. It therefore aims to bring together and support individuals, organisations, community campaigns and trade unions to build a collective force for social change and a united resistance against austerity.

2.3. The CPA is open to support and affiliation from political parties, but will remain non-party-political and will refrain from direct involvement in election campaigns. It can support parties on matters consonant with its agenda but will not endorse any one party.

2.4. The CPA believes that unity is impossible if discrimination is unchallenged. It therefore will not work with any organisation or individual that espouses racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, ableism or discrimination of any kind. It recognises the need to make every effort to represent all areas of society, and to diversify and broaden its support to include ethnic minorities and people with additional needs.

3. Support

3.1. Anyone may choose to be or to cease to be a supporter of the CPA. No list of supporters shall be held.

3.2. Supporters shall be encouraged to contribute regularly to the CPA's funds, but no fees shall be due from them.

4. Affiliation

4.1. Any association may affiliate to the CPA with its permission, and no fee shall be payable for affiliation.

4.2. The CPA shall support any and all action by an affiliated organisation that matches its constitutional aims and objectives and its agreed policies.

4.3. Affiliates shall receive proper notification of CPA activities.

5. Annual general meeting

5.1. The sovereign body of the CPA is the annual general meeting (AGM). It shall:

  • 5.1.1. be held annually in the month of January;
  • 5.1.2. be the only body with the power to amend the constitution;
  • 5.1.3. elect as officers a secretary, chair, and treasurer;
  • 5.1.4. determine the direction and main policies of the CPA for the year.

5.2. Anyone may attend and any supporter may vote in an AGM.

6. Extraordinary general meetings

6.1. An extraordinary general meeting (EGM) may be called by the agreement of all the officers.

6.2. An EGM shall have the power to amend the constitution and to elect officers as provided under section 5 above, and to dissolve the organisation as provided under section 12 below.

6.3. Notice of one month shall be given for an EGM.

7. Organising meetings

7.1. An organising meeting shall be held at least once a month.

7.2. Anyone may attend and any supporter may vote in an organising meeting.

7.3. A chair for the meeting shall be designated by those present.

8. Recall of officers

8.1. If an officer fails to attend three consecutive meetings, she or he may be recalled by the vote of any meeting.

9. Finance

9.1. All the monies raised by the CPA shall be applied to further its aims and objectives. The treasurer shall keep proper accounts of the finance of the organisation and shall maintain a bank account.

9.2. The CPA shall bank at a place suitable for access for the treasurer.

9.3. Two signatures from a stated list of three (normally the secretary, chair, and treasurer) shall be required to withdraw money from the CPA's account.

9.4. Supporters shall be reimbursed expenses incurred whilst undertaking approved business on behalf of the CPA.

9.5. The treasurer shall ensure that all accounts are independently examined at the end of each year and available to all supporters and affiliates at the AGM or on request.

10. Powers

10.1. In order to achieve its aims and objectives the CPA may:

  • 10.1.1. raise money;
  • 10.1.2. open bank accounts;
  • 10.1.3. work with similar organisations and exchange information and advice.

11. Review of the constitution

11.1. A review shall take place in an organising meeting six months after the constitution is adopted [in 2015], and by exception to section 5.1.2 above, that meeting shall also have the power to amend the constitution.

12. Dissolution

12.1. The CPA may be wound up if agreed by two-thirds of those present at an AGM, which must include all the officers. In the event of winding up, any assets after debts have been paid shall be donated to the national People's Assembly.

7 January 2015, revised 6 January 2016 and 4 January 2017

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