Thursday, 26 March 2009

Anger in North Wales - Hundreds March in Bangor; Teachers demonstrate in Rhyl

There seems to have been a flurry of protesting across North Wales last week, the first report was something I was personally involved in and was a weird protest with passersby stopping and cheering on the demonstration as it passed by and was greeted by a huge mass of people in the city centre (our estimate is perhaps on the low side!)

Hundreds March in Bangor

‘The Citizens of Bangor Deserve Better’ – is the Facebook group set up a few months ago in protest atthe poor leadership of the local council. People are desperate for affordable housing, but local developers building houses for their own profit which usually consists of student accommodation and is a source of anger in the city. The recession has brought the closure of around fifty shops, adding to the lack of jobs in the city. The city also lacks a cinema and lost its theatre recently.

The list of problems is endless and with the council allowing endless amounts of expensive private student accommodation to be built, increasing service charges and taxes and not seeking to create new public amenities which residents have been asking for, they decided to get active.They know that the mass reserves of money taken by the council, rumoured to be at £47million could be used to improve services in the area. A lot of discussion on these issues was seen in the local press. The leaders of the county council were interviewed about their response to the protest group and gave poor answers, in answer to one question about improvements to youth clubs and play areas they answered that they were doing up the library!

Saturday saw the first public action of the group, a demonstration of around 100 people who were greeted by at least 100 or so more people when we arrived in the city centre, lots of shoppers also stopped to cheer on the marchers. Once there, three speakers addressed the rally, including Iain Dalton from the Socialist Party. He pointed out that the government had given billions to the banks, but only a small proportion of that would be needed for what we were demanding. He also held up the example of the struggle of the Militant-led Liverpool City Council in the mid-80’s and contrasted it with Gwynedd Council’s dumping of cuts onto ordinary people. Another speaker spoke out against the threat of privatisation of local housing, which will further worsen the situation of unaffordable housing. The Socialist Party and Socialist Students helped to organise the protest, particularly with regards to drawing up the demands of the petition, helping to advertise the event and giving ideas at meetings. There was also a strong Socialist presence at the protest with a contingent on the march and the sale of 22 copies of the Socialist and several pamphlets. The campaign will continue with talk of potentially setting up a new party to represent ordinary people in Bangor, with plans of an open meeting and further actions to take the campaign forward.

Teachers Protest in Rhyl

Over 40 teachers, members of NASUWT took one day strike action in protest at plans to axe two six form facilities in Rhyl, North Wales. The council’s plan to close Rhyl High School Six Form and Blessed Edward Jones Sixth Form would mean that the only sixth form provision in the town would be at Llandrillo College.
The action was well supported with almost 100% turnout on the picket line at Rhyl High School, where the governors are controversy supporting the councils proposals. Rex Phillips, NASUWT organiser, told The Socialist, “Aswell as the threat to teachers jobs and conditions, we are also concerned that transferring all Sixth Form provision to the FE sector means there will be no local democratic accountability. We are disappointed that the school’s governing body is supporting Denbighshire County Council. This is in contrast to Blessed Edwards, where the Governors and the Head teacher are very supportive”.
A initial public consultation revealed 240 out of 250 responder were opposed to the plans for a single six form. The one day action is unlikely to be the end of the dispute and further action is being considered, with union members at Blessed Edward Jones being balloted-results are to be expected early next week.


Anonymous said...

The closure of the cinema then the theatre were absolutely appalling! Holyhead's cinema is only hanging on by a thread.

Have you seen how Anglesey CC have decided to close two of the three pools on Anglesey because they do not have a statutory duty to provide swimming facilities?

Leftwing Criminologist said...

Yes, but I've not come to expect all that much better of Anglesey County Council. Been meaning to do a post on cuts by Gwynedd and Anglesey county councilsas both are attempting to shave lots of their budgets