There follow the minutes of our March meeting. Our next monthly meeting will be held on Wednesday 4 April at 7.30 p.m., at the wheelchair-accessible River Lane Centre, River Lane, Cambridge CB5 8HP.
Cambridge People's Assembly, Wednesday 7 March 2018
- Agreement of the agenda
- Apologies for absence
- Approval of the minutes and matters arising
- Secretary's report
- Treasurer's report
- Action against Cambs County Council budget
- Our NHS demonstration, Saturday 30 June
- Fundraising proposal
- Proposed relocation of Cambs County Council
- Other business and announcements
- Next meeting
The venue was the River Lane Centre at 7.30 p.m. Present were Dan, Faraz, Hilary, Jamie, Jenny, Neil (secretary), Martin B. (meeting chair), and Richard M. (campaign chair). Names may have been changed.
Hilary suggested that the meeting should discuss specifically Cambridgeshire County Council's proposal to move its headquarters from Shire Hall in Cambridge, if there was time. Otherwise the meeting accepted the draft agenda.
Jane, Lucy, and Nicki (treasurer) had sent their apologies.
There was uncertainty whether Dan had made the final proposal under item 6, as the minutes recorded. The secretary's original notes later confirmed it.
Otherwise the minutes were approved and there were no matters arising.
Neil reported 251 subscribers to the mailing list (no change from last month), 977 Twitter followers (974), and 641 Facebook likes (643).
On behalf of Nicki, Neil reported overall funds of £930.64. Income was a £30 collection at the February meeting. Expenditure was £11.40 on travel expenses for a speaker at the Cambridge People's Assembly's (CPA's) demonstration on 4 February, and £5 on the group's regular donation to the national campaign.
Jamie presented a draft leaflet against the county council's latest cuts, already revised in the light of comments from the CPA's e-mail discussion group. The meeting agreed that the draft was excellent. Dan suggested it should acknowledge that some local authorities were already producing needs-based budgets, as the CPA was calling for. He also suggested a new slogan for the head of the leaflet: 'Costing you more for less'. The meeting generally approved it.
There were several figures left to establish or check: Neil would be able to help Jamie work on this. Jamie would also try to quote more residents and activists on the effects of the cuts.
Jamie recommended that the leaflet should end with a call to action, and suggested a petition to the county council. Dan agreed, and suggested the CPA should share the idea with other People's Assembly groups in the region. Richard believed a petition could be used to help promote the NHS march on 30 June. He would create an e-mail discussion thread on the subject, then the petition itself.
Faraz asked whether there was any glaring waste in the budget; Jamie noted that councillors were giving themselves a pay rise at the same time they were making deep cuts to public services.
Dan had drawn up a shortlist of four local radio stations that could be approached, and another of people who might speak. The group discussed other possible radio speakers. Richard asked whether the national People's Assembly might be able to provide a speaker, but Dan observed that the CPA would have to brief any such on what was happening locally. The discussion should continue by e-mail.
Jamie checked that everyone was happy with the four main campaign areas identified on the e-mail discussion list:
- children's centres,
- school transport, and
- physical and mental health services.
The meeting agreed these were good areas on which to focus.
Martin urged that the CPA had to book a coach, and the meeting agreed Neil should do so. Richard thought the next key thing was to start taking seat bookings. The meeting agreed to use Eventbrite as the CPA had done before; Dan would set up a page. It was agreed that passengers should pay for tickets.
Dan suggested holding events to build for the coach, such as banner-making. Hilary would contact the national office to find out whether it would produce a leaflet that the CPA could adapt; Jamie was willing to do so, or to design a new leaflet as necessary. Dan suggested distributing the leaflet house-to-house.
Martin urged that a motion should be sent to local unions. Faraz would draft a letter to local newspapers.
Faraz had suggested the CPA might raise funds by selling advertising space in its leaflets and other materials. The meeting was against this idea. Even if any advertiser was interested in such a relatively small audience, it would be more important to preserve the campaign's independence.
Dan suggested Youtube advertising as another source of funds, but Richard observed that this involved the campaign losing control over what it published.
The meeting also discussed selling merchandise such as clothing, but did not believe this would be profitable.
Hilary was concerned that moving the county council's headquarters from Shire Hall would damage local democracy by reducing public scrutiny of council meetings: Jamie advised that the move was planned for the next five to ten years. Jenny suggested discussing the move at the next meeting after further investigation.
Richard noted that the striking Cambridge University branch of UCU would hold a rally the following day, 8 March, at 12.30 outside Great St Mary's Church.
Martin advised that Stand Up to Racism would hold a national demonstration in London on 17 March.
The next meeting would be held at 7.30 p.m. on Wednesday 4 April, at the same venue of the River Lane Centre.