Tag Archive: holloway


The latest in a series of Save Our Services in Surrey meetings was held at Staines Community Centre on 3rd March.

The meeting was considerably smaller than previous meetings, but a very positive one. Although it was called at short notice, people still braved the mid-week freezing conditions. Most people were new faces, which was especially welcome.

Five of those attending the meeting, came from the newly constituted West Surrey branch of the Revolution Socialist Youth group. Revolution has been growing throughout the country with several new groups springing up. ‘Revo’s increasing popularity stems from its principled response to the cuts in education and rises to tuition fees. Revo were the main organisers of the Days Of Action against fees and cuts last year. It was Revo members in the Campaign Against Fees And Cuts that initially called for them.http://www.socialistrevolution.org/

Protest with REVO on the March 26th TUC march against cuts. Join the student feeder march outside the University of London Union, Mallet Street. (Nearest tube Goodge Street)

Unfortunately The VOAG was late for the meeting, but arrived in time to catch Craig from the Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance in Egham, give a report on their latest developments.  The Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance is one of several anti-cuts groups affiliated to Save Our Services in Surrey. Craig, who is the SOSiS Youth Officer, spoke about the violent eviction of an occupation staged in the Central London campus of the Royal Holloway University.

Craig went on to speak about the University’s clamp down on the anti-cuts movement on his own campus in Egham. The Anti-Cuts group is being intimidated and slurred by the University authorities. Police and security have entered their meetings; and the university has even tried to label them as racists. The University recently banned a meeting of theirs about the conflicts in Palestine. It featured eye witnesses who had recently been volunteering on social and economic projects in the West Bank.

Craig announced his candidature for the NUS Executive Officer for Campaigns; and went on to tell the meeting that Daniel, another member of Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance, had been elected to be their next Union President. The VOAG wishes both of them every success!

Paul, a SOSiS and Surrey Unison officer, spoke to the meeting about the coaches he had booked for the 26th March TUC demonstration against the cuts in London.

Coaches have been booked and subsidised by Surrey Unison. They will leave from Guildford, Woking, Redhill, and Staines. Tickets are only £2.00 Rtn. Buy a ticket on-line at www.saveourservic.es through the secure paypal, or email:guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk

The VOAG doesn’t need to emphasise how important this demonstration is. It will be truly historic. There are more than two hundred Unison coaches coming from the South East region alone. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000336574245#!/event.php?eid=165255660190758

Chris from Save Our Services introduced the idea of distributing a pledge to all Labour Council candidates in the forthcoming election. The VOAG thinks this is an excellent idea. The candidates will be invited to sign the pledge, and join an on-line list of candidates who have signed.

A member of the PCS announced her members at the DWP were balloting in Surrey for strike action.

A Save Our Services street stall was arranged for 19th March at Staines High Street. And the meeting was told about a rally due to take place in Redhill, March 24th. This is being organised by Redhill Against Cuts, another group affiliated to Save Our Services in Surrey.

For a list of Save Our Services in Surrey events go to the events tab on the Guildford Against Fees and Cuts Facebook page. http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000336574245#!/pages/Guildford-Against-Fees-Cuts/167151436659040 
Or for a diary of activists’ events in Surrey and the surrounding counties, click the Events Calendar on the right hand column on this page.

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Aaron Porter – This Is Your Life!

What a month it was for Aaron Porter, NUS President. The Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford looks back at the lows and lows of a Tory low-life and bids farewell.

On the 29th January, Aaron Porter was invited to speak at the closing rally of the NUS/UCU “A Future that Works” demonstration in Manchester. As protesters gathered at the starting point on Oxford Road, about thirty activists from Hull and Leeds Universities accosted Porter and demanded that he justify his record. Instead of engaging with the students, Porter turned and hurried off. In true Benny Hill style, he found himself being followed by a growing number of demonstrators. Within a couple of minutes he was literally being chased through the streets of Manchester by almost half of those who had gathered for the march – perhaps about five hundred people – with chants including “Students, workers, hear us shout, Aaron Porter sold us out” and “Porter – out”. Eventually he took refuge in Manchester Metropolitan Union, protected by a heavy cordon of riot police.

Aaron Porter is escorted in to the Manchester Met University, pursued by 500 protesters

Unsurprisingly, Porter did not turn up to speak at the closing rally. NUS Vice-President and Further Education officer, Shane Chowan spoke in Porter’s place. He was drowned out by hostile chanting and pelted with eggs and was unable to finish his speech. Most of the speakers were heckled repeatedly.

After the rally, about a thousand students marched back into the city center. They were met by a huge and violent police presence, and were kettled in central Manchester’s Deangate.

The following day, the Telegraph and the Daily Mail reported that during Porter’s pursuit through the streets of Manchester, he was subjected to racial taunts and chanting. The Mail’s article was titled: “Student leader faces barrage of anti-Jewish abuse at rally as protesters accuse him of being a Tory.”

When activists contacted the two newspapers, The Mail claimed a photographer was the sole source of their story but refused to name him. The Telegraph said there were only two sources for their story, a PA photographer, and the NUS itself. The NUS official who heard the chants, is “believed to be an aide to Porter”, an NUS Press Officer said: “We cannot allow you to speak to the person directly. There is an ongoing police investigation into the allegations, and we feel it is not appropriate to discuss the matter.”

In an email to NUS members printed in the Financial Times, Porter said; “Just before the march started, I was surrounded by a particularly vicious minority of protesters more intent on shouting threatening and racist abuse at me rather than focusing on the issues.”  On January 30th, He sent a tweet that read: “I Will not back down to intimidation, and certainly not to racial abuse”, and in a Times article on January 31st he wrote of the protest: “However, before I was able to speak to the rally of thousands, a small group of people started to chant abuse to try to intimidate me, and there were audible anti-Semitic comments.”

Porter later admitted that he had not himself heard any racial abuse “The NUS had only confirmed the story when journalists contacted them for a comment”. In a statement through the NUS Press Office, Porter said: “I was not certain what was said by those shouting abuse at me, however I was informed by others present that amongst other things anti-Semitic comments were made. I have not made a specific complaint to the police as I did not clearly hear the contents of the chants myself.”

Allegations of racist chanting or abuse have been strongly denied and contemptuously shrugged off as a highly cynical attempt to salvage a sinking political career.

Two YouTube videos have emerged since the protest. One shows the moments before Porter was escorted into the Manchester Metropolitan Students’ Union. Another substantially longer one, which is largely uncut, shows most of the protest. At no point are there anti-Semitic chants, nor chants of “no to racism,” which was reported in the Telegraph article but not in the Mail.

There was a BBC reporter outside Manchester Metropolitan Students’ Union where Porter was taken. The BBC news reports made no mention of anti-Semitic chants.

Like the WMDs in Iraq, this looks like noxious New Labour spin. May be the weapons will turn up and video evidence of racial abuse will be made available, but I doubt it. Although no eyewitnesses have come forward to corroborate the Mail or Telegraph‘s claims, several have come forward to say that they heard no racist abuse.

A member of the Campaign Against Fees and Cuts said on their website: “We were at the front of the crowd which chased Porter, and thus would have heard any racist chants – let alone a “barrage”! We were also in possession of two of the four megaphones involved”.

Josie Hooker, a student at the University of Manchester was about 15 metres away from Porter for the majority of the march. She also claimed not to have heard anti-Semitic chants or the chants of “no to racism”. “At no point did I hear anti-Semitic abuse and at no point did I hear anyone shout ‘no to racism,’” she said. “Due to my position on the march, I believe that if a 20 strong group of people were shouting ‘no to racism’ in response to anti-Semitic or racist abuse, myself or one of the 15-20 odd friends and acquaintances present in various positions among the protesters would have heard it.”

She also suggested that the photographer who heard the chant “Tory Jew Scum” simply miss-heard “you’re a fucking Tory too,” which was chanted throughout the protest.

Peter Campbell, a medical student from Newcastle, also claimed to have heard no racial abuse. Referring to the “Aaron Porter we know you, you’re a fucking Tory too” chant, he said: “It is a chant of disgust at a man who has repeatedly set back the student movement. It is certainly not pleasant, it’s not meant to be. However, it is not anti-Semitic.”

Chris Marks, from the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts, when asked if there were any anti-Semitic chants said: “Absolutely and categorically not. I was at the front of the group which instigated the protest. If there had been anti-Semitic chants we would have heard and challenged it. Anything shouted was jovial.”

Porter, kettled in Glasgow cries for the police

On the 12th February, Porter was in need of police protection again, when he was chased through the streets of Glasgow. As he left the Labour Students Conference at Glasgow University, where he had been speaking, he encountered a group of student activists. Occupiers from Glasgow University, who are battling against cuts on their campus.

The protesters crowded around the entrance as he left. In the words of one protester: “Having been sacrificed to us by his Labour bosses, so they could clear the door of the clearly terrifying mob, Aaron was kettled by us. Much screaming of “I don’t expect to be filmed!” and “I don’t want to be hit!” followed – nobody was hitting him, in fact he broke someone’s camera.- until he did a total comedy run away”. Showing uncharacteristic swift and decisive action, Porter immediately dived between one of the protesters’ legs and fled. Porter was forced into hiding somewhere on the Glasgow University campus. Even the Labour Club didn’t know where he was hiding. It’s an indictment of the disgraceful policies of the NUS leadership when even the Labour Students and Young Labour delegates appeared, to say the least, unconcerned about Porter’s wereabouts.

Porter’s recent betrayals began when he condemned the occupation of Millbank, whilst keeping silent about the much more extreme police violence. Secondly he flip-flopped, saying he had been “spineless”. He announced support for student occupations and promised he would obtain legal aid for occupiers which he didn’t do. Then he voted against NUS support for an anti-fees demo, instead choosing to back a useless “candelit vigil”.

The Daily Telegraph reported on 8th December that they have seen emails from Porter to the Government, leaked by his close associates. Trying to persuade ministers at the Department for Business to enact their planned 15 per cent cut in higher education funding without lifting the cap on fees. The NUS leadership urged ministers to cut grants and loans as an alternative to raising tuition fees. Aaron was ready to call for cuts of up to £800 million in grants behind the back of students.

In one email to the Department for Business, dated Oct 1, Porter suggested that £800 million should be “deducted from the grants pot” over four years. That would cut total spending on grants by 61 per cent. Porter also proposed the “introduction of a real rate of interest” for student loans.

In an email the following day, Graeme Wise, an NUS political officer, urged ministers seeking cuts to start with the “student support” package of grants and loans. Graeme Wise also suggested that the cuts in support could be imposed on students currently at university.The NUS’ plans also called for 2.4 billion to be cut from the universities’ teaching budget over four years, a reduction of 48 per cent.

The NUS have also been calling on NUS officers at different universities not to oppose hikes in fees, describing them as “relatively progressive” – completely at odds with what they said publicly. Another leaked memo told NUS officers to “engage” with university leaders rather than campaign for lower fees.

In response, the President of Cambridge University Students’ Union, Rahul Mansigani, said: “It is disappointing that anyone views as progressive a scheme that students up and down the country have campaigned against”.

Porter has been universally condemned by both students and NUS officers as a “sell-out”, a Tory and a careerist. He has been accused of giving into the government without a fight; spending more time condemning student protesters than arguing against the tuition fee rise; and more concerned with ingratiating himself with politicians than standing up for students

When newly elected, last summer he said in a Guardian interview, he would “define success as ensuring that a market in fees does not emerge”. Failure, he said, “would be a real market in fees coupled with cuts from the government”.

The Guardian interviewed him again on the 28th February and asked him, How then can you possibly claim to have been a success? His responses were almost delusional: “I still believe we’ve run a successful high-profile campaign. A disastrous campaign would be one that made no impact whatsoever. This made an indelible imprint in the public’s consciousness and in the political landscape. Did we get what we wanted? No, we didn’t. Would I have signed up to the proposals for trebled tuition fees? Not in a million years. But I think it would be wrong of me to say that this was not a successful campaign. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say the coalition was under real pressure.”

The VOAG would argue that the campaign’s impact was achieved not by the NUS, but by the occupations and by the protesters, condemned by Porter, who invaded Millbank Tower back in November. Had students not organised outside the NUS structures, and had they not stormed Millbank; had 50,000 students simply marched peacefully through London, tuition fees would not have developed into the high-profile issue it has become.

Many Liberal Democrat candidates signed an NUS pledge before the election that they would vote against any fee increase. The breaking of this pledge by the Lib Dem leadership became a focus for Porter. Porter declared to the guardian  “Committing them to oppose any rise in tuition fees was a master-stroke”. The journalist replied: “Well it would have been a master stroke, I agree, if the Lib Dems had felt bound by it – but in the event they just tore it up”.

“I still think that it was a remarkable campaign tactic”, said Porter. “Because the pledge meant that one of the parties could not run away from it”. “It was the most effective campaign of 2010”.

“But they did run away from it”, replied the journalist, “didn’t they”? “They did,” he conceded, without missing a beat. “The preferred outcome from the pledge would’ve been that the Liberal Democrats stuck to it – but they didn’t.”

On the 21st February, Porter announced he would not be standing for re-election in the Student Union elections in April. Porter said that the campaign over fees is “moving into a different landscape” and the union needs a new president.

In an email to members, Porter wrote: “So this new regime brings with it a new landscape, and I believe the NUS needs reinvigorating to enter into the next phase of this campaign. After considerable soul-searching, I believe there needs to be a new President to lead the student movement into that next phase. As a result, I’ve resolved not to seek re-election at the National Conference this year”.

This is only the second time in over 40 years that an NUS President has not run for a second year in office. In a guardian interview following his announcement, Porter maintained he would be certain to win the presidency if he chose to stand. “Oh, without a doubt”. He predicted the NUS will elect a successor very much in his “image” – and said his tenure “had been a terrific success”.

Regarding the student protests, he told the Guardian, “I cannot see, on the issue of tuition fees, how illegal protest is helpful.” “Well tuition fees, whilst I disagree with them, are not the biggest evil in society. It is not the worst decision that the Labour government made to introduce them, and it is not the worst decision this coalition has made to increase them.”

He concluded his Guardian interview with: “For me the question is about what next year would’ve been like. And I think that the NUS, and also me personally, need to be able to draw a line under the tuition fee debate, and I suspected that my continuation as NUS president would’ve inhibited us to move on from the tuition fee issue”.

Aaron Porter then, leaves us with a sigh of resignation for the inevitable. ‘We lost, now lets move on’.  The Voice Of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford also gives a sigh, a sigh of utter contempt. What a waste of space.

There’s nothing inevitable about the education cuts, fee rises, or the implementation of the Bologna process and the marketisation of education. There is everything to play for. Education is only one area of the public sector that is under attach from the ConDem government. Workers And Students Unite is not an empty slogan,  together we can stop all cuts. There is an alternative, but we must first see the end of this government.The TUC National demonstration on the 26th March is the first step and a spring-board to develop anti-cuts groups in every town, college and university in Britain.There are coaches subsidised by Surrey Unison leaving from Staines, Woking, Guildford and Redhill. Everybody is welcome. Tickets are only £2.00 Rtn. You can buy a ticket on-line at http://www.saveourservic.es or email:guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk

The Fire Brigades Union is warning that cuts to the fire and rescue service will put lives at risk, after a spate of high-profile house fires. The union advises the public to “get out and stay out” in the event of a fire and to call professional fire-fighters to tackle any blaze.

However the union is warning that cuts will worsen the service. Government figures show that average response times to house fires have slowed over the last decade from 5.5 minutes to 7.3 minutes.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary said: “Every second counts when there’s a fire. Our job as fire-fighters is to rescue people and we aim to get to every incident as quickly as we can.

“But the public should know that cutting fire-fighter jobs, fewer fire engines and other cuts will delay our intervention. The planned cuts to the service will cost lives if they go ahead. They must be stopped. The FBU wants fire services and councils across the UK to follow the example of the Scottish government and investigate how to improve response times to house fires”.

Here in Surrey, the council is preparing to cut the fire service by 25%. Many stations will loose their night time cover. Others will see a reduction in fire engines and redundancies are planned across the board.

For example Conservative Council is shutting Staines fire station from 7pm to 7am every night, leaving Staines without night fire cover.

Residents and anti-cuts activists will be converging on Staines fire station at Falcon Drive, Stanwell, to protest against the cuts.

The protest is supported by Save Our Services in Surrey, Guildford Against Fees And Cuts, Staines Labour Party, local unions and of course The Voice of Anti-Capitalism in Guildford- as well as many others.

Your support will be very much appreciated. Yet again, Tory cuts are taking priority over people and in this case human rights. But together we can reverse the cuts.

So please try and make it to Staines if you can.  Saturday, February 26 · 11:00am – 2:00pm

DETAILS:
Assemble on the green in Falcon Drive for 11:00am
Protest down Flacon drive and turn right into Claire Road.
Protest down to Town Lane and take a left towards Staines fire station to hear talks from the unions and the labour party.

Speakers from:
-FBU
-GMB
-UNISON
-Save Our Services In Surrey
-The Labour Party

Please join the Facebook events page for more details and to show your support. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=103785973033803

Please don’t forget about the TUC National demonstration against the cuts in London, March 26th. There is subsidised coach travel leaving Staines, Guildford, Woking and Redhill. Just £2.00 Rtn. All are welcome. See Facebook event for details:  http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=103785973033803#!/event.php?eid=178381258861986

To buy a coach ticket on line visit www.saveourservic.es
Or email: guildfordagainstfeesandcuts@yahoo.co.uk

 

Surrey University Student’s Meeting:
Save Our Services – Cuts In Surrey

26th October,
Student’s at the university invited Chris Leary from Save Our Services in Surrey to address its weekly meeting at the University.  

Around fifteen students and supporters attended the meeting. Markus, Society President, opened with a short speech about some of the concerns he and his fellow students have about the cuts.

“Universities are about to receive a 40% cut in funding across the board”, he told the meeting. “The funding for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Technology) subjects is to be ring fenced, so that the Arts and Social Sciences will no longer be publically funded, but will be paid for through fees alone. This represents a decisive break from the liberal education ethos of the Post War University system”.

“As a consequence Universities like surrey are already concentrating on recruiting non-EU students, who are charged higher fees, in order to make up the shortfall”.“The Lib Dems are beginning to distance themselves from the recommendations of the Browne Report, fearful of the backlash that is gaining momentum. Ministers are talking about raising the cap on fees to £12,000 instead of a total abolishment of the cap. Meanwhile, the Scottish government voted to keep education free earlier in the year”.

“The University’s Vice Chancellor is keeping quiet about the cuts that are about to take place in the University. However, two Sociology lecturers have already been threatened with redundancy, with minimum redundancy payments, unless they take early retirement”.

“The head of the Law Dept. has been forced to take a sabbatical and her vacant post integrated into the Hotel and Catering Management Dept. Another lecturer was sacked on the flimsy pretext that a letter of complaint she wrote was insulting. Meanwhile, the School of Law has been integrated with the school of Management and is now called The School of Law and Management”. These moves represent “cuts by the back door” Markus told the meeting.

After a screening of some short films, showing how students around the country are resisting the cuts, Chris Leary from Save Our Services in Surrey addressed the meeting. He said “Social Services in Surrey are going to be hit hard by the Comprehensive Spending Review”(CSR).

“A report published by credit analysts, Experian says that Guildford is the eighth best placed borough to cope with public service cuts. However there are many pockets of poverty in Surrey”, Chris said. “Spelthorne, a borough in North Surrey was estimated by the report to be seventieth on the table”.

“For example Esher, a small town in the centre of Surrey, is divided by the railway that runs through the town. There is a ten year differential in life expectancy between the two halves of the town. Surrey is not all stockbrokers” said Paul.

“Surrey needs its public services to survive”, continued Paul. “And Council workers spend their money in the local economy, unlike Surrey’s stockbrokers, who stash their money in off shore accounts. Once the public sector redundancies start, the whole economy will suffer”.

“500 Local civil service jobs are due to go as town centre offices are closed. The job Centre is also due to be cut, just when unemployment is rising in the area. Funding for the National Tax Office in Woking is to be slashed, whilst corporations get away with massive tax evasion”.

“Vodafone for example, has recently had a six billion tax bill written off because the government claims it doesn’t have the resources to pursue the company through the courts”.

“The axe has already fallen in Surrey before the CSR was published. Surrey’s primary schools have been urged to become academies thus removing the council’s responsibility for primary education. Thirty Connexions careers and guidance centres are to be closed in Surrey, leaving only two centres for the whole of Surrey. The Council’s policy is cease providing all services that it is not required to provide by law. This includes bus subsidies and youth centres”.

“Road building projects have been scrapped. The Guildford town centre Council offices, employing 2000 staff is set to close. Community Support offices in Frimley, Farnham, and Staines are going to close. Family support and social workers’ funding is going to be scrapped”.

“A third of the Local Government and Communities budget is going to be slashed. Meanwhile Surrey Council has received the lowest Ofsted rating for its services- and the council’s response?..To discuss suing Ofsted for lying!..You couldn’t make it up! But the real reason for the lack of proper services is of course a lack of funding”.

“These cuts are ideological and politically motivated. The national debt is not historically high as the government would have us believe. It now stands at 48% of GDP. However, for most of the 20th century the debt has been over 100% of GDP. Five years ago the debt stood at 38% of GDP, so when the government claims that New Labour has massively increased the debt and led us into this impasse, they are lying”.

“The debt is not a problem. The government could easily restructure the debt in order to pay it over a longer time if it chose. A 0.05% tax on speculative financial transactions, the so-called Robin Hood Tax, could net the country 30 billion a year, halving the deficit”.

“David Cameron, speaking on Radio 4 two weeks ago was asked if he was going to reverse the spending cuts once the deficit had been repaid- and of course, he said no”.

However Chris told us, “These cuts can be defeated. We have already had successes. Brooklands College when threatened by closure drew a huge reaction from the local community. A campaign spearheaded by Save Our Services in Surrey brought together staff, parents and students and forced the council to save the college”. “Shortwood School in Staines was saved through a mobilisation of the entire community”.

 “We need to link up all local struggles to save services. These cuts are a unified attack and they require a single unified response”. In the ‘90s we saw the defeat of the Poll Tax by the whole community coming together and refusing to comply. This is the response we need now”. Already we see ministers starting to backtrack on Child Benefit and University fees.

Redhill Coalition Against Cuts Meeting:
7pm on Tuesday 2nd November @ The Garlands, Brighton Road, Redhill.

North Sussex And East Surrey Anti Cuts Coalition Meeting:
8pm on Tuesday 2nd November @ St John Church Hall, in the Broadway, Crawley

(Sponsored by North Sussex and East Surrey Trades Union Council)

Join Save Our Services in Surrey on Facebook
Join Guildford Against Fees And Cuts on Facebook
Botom-Of-Post - Protest

Public Meeting: Introduction To The Cuts

21st, October 2010
Last night saw the official launch meeting of the Royal Holloway Anti-Cuts Alliance at the Royal Holloway University, Egham, Surrey. It was a fantastic meeting with over a hundred and fifty people in attendance.

So many meetings of this kind never go beyond phrasemongary, “Tories are bad, they eat your kids and kill your parents” etc. But every speaker was interesting and engaging. Each speaker brought a wealth of knowledge and loads of facts and figures.

The speakers spoke about the cuts from a variety of perspectives but all made the point that the fight against cuts in education and the rise in fees must be linked to the resistance to the wider public sector cuts.

The meeting heard speakers from Save Our Services in Surrey, UCU, BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts), The Student Union’s Women’s and Equality Officer, a member from the NUS National Executive and Ben Robinson from Youth Fight For Jobs.

Chris Leary from Save Our Services in Surrey gave an informative talk about what the cuts meant for the people in Surrey. Whilst Surrey is an affluent county said Chris, “there were many pockets of poverty”. According to the government’s survey of Boroughs, the Surrey Borough of Elmbridge was the ablest in the country to cope with the cuts. Runneymede, another Surrey borough came seventh. However Spelthorne came seventieth in the table. “There are 30,000 people working for Surrey County Council (SCC), many on low incomes, so not everyone in Surrey conforms to the stockbroker commuting stereotype” said Chris.  

“There was a move by SCC, earlier this year to force all secondary schools into a federation of academies thus divesting itself of all responsibility for secondary education. There was such resistance that the Council was forced to back down, but immediately approached the primary schools with the same proposal. Academies do worse in league tables”, Chris told the packed meeting. “They don’t even generate extra income”.     

Chris spoke of other cuts planned by the Council. “With regards to young people, the SCC has published the target of achieving zero needs for sixteen to eighteen year-olds, which means all young people will be in work or education. However the council is reducing the grant it gives to the private company that runs the Connections careers and counselling service. It is going to close twenty centres, leaving only Camberley and Epsom to service the entire county. We have already witnessed a reduction in social workers and their admin support”, Chris added.

“The council also plans to slash the grant it awards bus companies to provide non-profitable bus services. It has also announced it will scrap all of its education welfare officers”.

“The council is talking of scrapping its present library service and replacing it with mobile libraries that may only visit once every fortnight. SCC also plans to shut down its youth services, closing youth centres, some of which were  only opened two or three years ago”.

“These cuts are just a few of those announced following the Council’s Spending Review and come before the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review announced a couple of days ago”. “The government announced an unprecedented 20% reduction in revenues for local councils which will further devastate communities and local services”. Chris concluded that we need to link education issues with wider service cuts and build a coalition of resistance of students, workers and service users.

Next to speak was Duska Rosenberg, Royal Holloway Professor of Information and Communications Management and UCU member. She told the meeting that “whilst all other countries are investing in education, the UK is slashing budgets and predicted some Universities may close”. “This can only harm the future prosperity of the country”, she told the audience.

Professor Rosenberg spoke about the government’s plan to ring fence STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects whilst cutting funding for the arts and social sciences. As a professor whose discipline bridges the physical and social sciences, she told the meeting how the arts earn money for the economy.

“However it’s not just about economic growth, there’s also an issue of intellectual growth and education for its own sake. We need a government that respects this.

One cannot divide technology from social sciences”, she continued. “One needs to know how technological advances affect society”.

“A recent government think tank reported that the UK needs more graduates to compete in a knowledge economy, so each University needs to be preserved. However, it’s not just about academic staff, there are also thousands of administration and support jobs at stake. They are indispensible to Universities. It’s about all of us”.

A BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts) spokesperson addressed the meeting. He called the cuts disgusting. “According to the Institute of Fiscal Studies these cuts are the greatest since the World War Two”. The cuts, he said “will devastate all communities, but black people will be disproportionately effected. Black people already suffer from greater levels of unemployment. Black people die younger, and more black people go to prison than go to university”.

“Studies have proved that in times of recession racism increases and we can already see this dynamic taking shape in the way that asylum seekers are being scapegoated in the media. 80% of public sector workers are black and for the most part work in lower paid support jobs; these are the very jobs that are being targeted for cuts”.

He concluded that students have a proud tradition of anti-racism and urged all students to emulate the French and fight against the cuts. He finished with a quote from Nelson Mandela: “A society is judged by the way it treats its poor”.

We heard from the Student Union’s Equality and Diversity Officer that women will also be disproportionately affected by the cuts. “According to studies, 60% of students who are lone parents are considering giving up their studies due to the hike in tuition fees. Women already take longer to pay back their student loans.  Domestic violence services are also going to be cut, along with homophobic and HIV services”.

Ben Robinson from Youth Fight For Jobs also spoke from the platform. “The Education Maintenance Grant will be scrapped”, he told us. He said “the government has announced plans to cut a half million public sector jobs, but have not mentioned that it will have a knock on effect of creating another half million unemployed on top of this. Already there are 2.5 million people chasing a half million jobs. One quarter of all young people are unemployed, and for young black people it’s a half”.

“Presently, anyone under 25, cannot get housing benefit for their own home, they are limited to renting a room. The government’s spending review has raised this to 35 years. This means a loss of privacy, space and independence for claimants until they are 35 years old”.

“The government is only making cuts because they can get away with it”, said Ben. “The banks, still largely publically owned, have paid 15 billion pounds in bonuses this year. The richest UK banks are paying the lowest corporation tax in Europe”.

The last speaker to address the meeting was Sean, the NUS National Executive Mature Students officer. He told the meeting that the Browne Report meant that poorer students would receive a second class education because they will not be able to afford the higher fees charged by the leading Universities.

“The government’s emphasis on STEM subjects will mean only the richer Universities charging higher fees will be running Social Science courses. These will be unaffordable to most students, so that in future it will be the students from richer backgrounds taking the lead in politics and the media in later life.

The Tories, he told us “are finishing Thatcher’s job, marketising education and the NHS and attacking housing benefits, which are due to be capped at 30%  below the average cost of accommodation. “The UK’s structural debt stands at £100 billion whilst the richest thousand UK citizens have £80billion of personal wealth.

So, he concluded, “Lets all get to the demo on 10th November and demand No Cuts And No Fees, and take this message to the Coalition Of Resistance conference on 23rd November. And LETS GET FRENCH!!!!”
Statement of the Coalition Of Resistance
Royal Holloway University Anti Cuts Alliance
Save Our Services in Surrey
Join Guildford Against Fees And Cuts on Facebook
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Official Launch Meeting: Save Our Services in Surrey

The 14th October saw the official launch of the Save Our Services in Surrey campaign. 80 people came together to discuss the governments planned public service cuts and plan a local response. There were delegates from a dozen local union branches as well as several community and campaign groups.

Apart from the many trade union branches that sent delegates, there were delegates from Surrey County Council Trade Unions (SCCTU), Royal Holloway University Anti Cuts Alliance, Peace & Justice Coalition, Peace Party, Guildford Transition Towns and Redhill Coalition Against The Cuts.

Save Our Services in Surrey has already been active prior to the official launch. It has successfully led campaigns that have saved Shortwood School and Ashford College and lobbied the council earlier in the year to oppose fire service cuts. 

The meeting took the form of an open discussion rather than having a panel of speakers.
Dan, from the Royal Holloway University Anti Cuts Alliance told the meeting that the coming marketisation of education and public services will have dire consequences for the young and the vulnerable in society. The Royal Holloway NUS president recently stated that the two successful anti-cuts meetings on campus gave him the mandate to take action not just over education cuts but public spending cuts in general. The NUS at Holloway was fully backing the Anti-Cuts Alliance and its public meeting arranged for the 21st, October.

A Surrey County Council union official spoke about the Council’s “Public Value Review” whose conclusions are due out next week. She told the meting; “We must fight for every job, and if we save just one job it will be a victory. We must work with many other communities and groups, and be proactive if we are to be successful”.

An official from the UCU spoke to the meeting, she said “the managers at the University of Surrey pretend they don’t know what’s going to happen about the cuts in the University. Everyone knows there are cuts coming, but the management are not being up-front about them”.

Another local union official spoke about the national debt that the government keeps telling us about. She said “yes, there is a huge debt at 48% of GDP, but this is nothing like the national debt following the war. For much of the 20th Century the national debt was running at over 100% of GDP- and for the ten years after World War Two the National debt was over 200%- peaking at 250%. During this time the country was able to build schools, roads, undertake a massive house building programme and create the welfare state”. These cuts she concluded “were political and not economically motivated”.A union official from the Royal Surrey Hospital Trust told the meeting that management was restricting union activity and its campaigns over closures. He spoke of eighty recent redundancies with another eighty planned for the near future.

A student told the meeting that we were in this position because of the banks. “It’s not my fault” he said, “It’s not my mistake”.

A Green Party councillor and member of the Redhill Coalition Against The Cuts related his experiences of council meetings where “alternative service delivery” was being discussed. “Council meetings are always about the best ways to make cuts, not if the cuts should be made”. The council at Redhill plans to cut 20% of its workforce.

A Surrey unison member said to the meeting; “councillors don’t use services themselves because they tend to be better off. They don’t really know what it means to have their services cut. They often think council services are luxuries. 52 libraries are under threat in Surrey. The number of Social Workers and their support staff are being cut and the Council’s adult service is being slashed. Staff are already exhausted with case loads exceeding 100 cases. Managers should come out of their offices and see what is happening on the ground”.

Chris Leary, from Save Our Services in Surrey urged everyone to join SOSiS and create a central campaigning hub. “We can support individual campaigns by picketing and putting pressure on councillors and Council managers. We need to be united, proactive, and demand the services we need”.Before the meeting closed there was a unanimous vote to adopt the draft constitution and three officers were elected. Chair, Co-ordinator, and Outreach/Campaign Organiser.

Two further meetings were announced:
Holloway University Anti Cuts Alliance meeting in Egham, 21st October.
A student meeting against the cuts at the University Of Surrey 26th October.
Join Guildford Against Fees And Cuts
Save Our Services in Surrey

Redhill Coalition Against The Cuts
Royal Holloway University Anti Cuts Alliance
Anti cuts coalition in Sussex and Surrey Public meeting
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Banks to knock £19 billion off their tax bill despite taxpayer bail out

Despite being rescued by taxpayers during the crash, UK banks will avoid paying £19 billion of tax on future profits by offsetting their losses during the financial crisis against their tax bills. This is equivalent to more than £1,100 for every family in the UK, a TUC report says today (Monday).

The TUC report – The Corporate Tax Gap – says that as well as benefitting from an £850 billion bailout from taxpayers and the Bank of England during the recession, banks are able to offset their £19 billion of tax losses between 2007 and 2009 against paying tax on future profits.

The report, authored by tax specialist Richard Murphy, has calculated this double subsidy from the accounts of five UK high street banks – HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Lloyds TSB and HBOS (later Lloyds Banking Group) – and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) data.

The Corporate Tax Gap warns that banks could soon be paying a lower rate of tax than small businesses. The corporate tax gap – the difference between the rate of tax set by the Government and the actual rate companies pay – has grown by an average of 0.5 per cent a year over the last decade. Between 2000 and 2009, the effective corporation tax rate fell from 28 per cent to 21 per cent, much deeper than the headline rate cut from 30 per cent to 28 per cent, says the report.

With the Government planning to reduce corporation tax to 24 per cent, the UK’s largest companies, including banks, will soon be paying an effective tax rate of 17 per cent – three per cent lower than small businesses, who are less able to exploit loopholes and therefore pay a headline rate of 20 per cent. As a result, the UK will soon have a regressive corporation tax regime, says the report.

The TUC has calculated that the banks’ £19 billion double subsidy could pay for the following cuts between now and 2015:
*Switching the indexation of benefits from RPI to CPI (£5.84 billion)
*Housing benefit (£1.77 billion)
*Tax credits (£3.22 billion)
*Child benefit for higher rate taxpayers (£3 billion)
*Estimated cuts to the science research budget (£3 billion)
*Estimated cuts in HMRC resources to tackle tax avoidance (£2.1 billion).

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: “Banks caused the global financial crash and triggered the recession that produced the deficit. Yet not only did they take almost a trillion pounds from taxpayers to bail them out, they are now using the losses caused by their irresponsibility to cut their tax bills for years to come”.

 The Government’s bank levy is small change compared to this huge loss as the business-as-usual bonus levels show. It’s double bubble for the banks, but huge cuts, job losses and VAT increases for ordinary families. Small firms have every right to be angry too. Not only are they finding it hard to get credit from the banks, soon they will be paying more tax on their profits than the banks and other big companies.
Botom-Of-Post - Protest