Lime trees not limelight

The fight to save the Edgar Street trees continued this week with a demonstration of local residents and activists. Those who attended made their feeling known with music, song and the redecoration of the trees. It was a good turn out for the first demo, but almost inevitably it was hijacked by politicians. In the resulting video that was produced from the demo (which can be viewed here) these politicians feature heavily.

All residents of Hereford have an opinion on the trees, politicians included, but why they have to be thrust to the front of the campaign is unclear. Councillors from the ‘It’s their County’ party in particular have a bad record when it comes to community led organisations. Lets not forget that they destroyed the anti-Edgar Street Grid campaign in order to get themselves elected. And since when did the Tory party give a shit about the environment. Clearly for these individuals the limelight is far more important that the trees.

The people who really matter are those directly affected by the planned road widening scheme. Local residents like Anne-Marie Dossett who are working tirelessly to ensure that the public are listened too. These are the people who are driving the campaign, and should be commended for doing so.

What matters is the opinions of local people who feel passionate about saving these trees. Let hope their views aren’t ignored in favour of self serving politicians

The fight continues.

Tenants & Homeless seize abandoned council house

In the early hours of Monday morning, activists appalled at the crackdown on homeless beggars and the council’s lack of action to create badly needed new homes seized one of Birmingham’s 11,000[4] empty properties. The group calling themselves Birmingham Tenants and Homeless Action Group issued a statement on their website[1] condemning the City Council for failing to take action to help the growing homeless population of Birmingham, which has risen by 25%[2] since 2009.

 Claire Lister, 23, an activist involved with Birmingham Tenants and Homeless Action Group, said, “Homelessness is on the rise and the council is effectively doing nothing, worse – homeless charities have been cut by 29%[2]. Birmingham already has the highest rate of homelessness in the UK[3] and with the incoming housing benefit cuts even more people are going to be at risk of becoming homeless.”

The group are doing up the property to hand over to a homeless person. They say the council, who owns the property, should put it back into use immediately as social housing. Andy Hamilton, 23, said, “This property has been left empty for years now; there is nothing wrong with it. People are living rough on the streets they are getting very ill and even dying. We want this house and others like it to be put back into use right-away to help tackle the housing crisis.”.John Holland ,25, said “A roof over your head should be a right. 11,000 houses are lying empty[4]; – this place mustn’t be left empty when it could house a family.”

The group are demanding the council put back into use as social housing as many of the 11,000 empty homes as possible to deal with the growing homeless problem.

As of the 1st September a new law (Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 [5]) will come into effect making it illegal to squat residential properties. The group condemn the new law saying that squatting is used by many homeless people as a means of keeping a roof over their heads, the new law is in effect targeting and marginalising society’s most vulnerable.

[1] www.network23.org/bthag 

Birmingham Tenants & Homeless Action Group
- e-mail: bthag@riseup.net
- Homepage: www.network23.org/bthag

From Indymedia UK

Rioter jailed…for over 1,800 years!

It’s a year on from the riots that swept across the country and some interesting statistics have been released.

A total of 1,292 naughty boys and girls have been jailed for their part in the riots, out of over 3,000 prosecuted. The average custodial sentence was 16.8 months, four times higher than the average term dished out for similar crimes under ‘normal’ circumstances. Unfortunately, the judges were sooo hyped by the headlines, that they dished out a sentence of 1,808 years to an unlucky 13-year-old Facebook-using hoodlum from Stow-on-the-Wold.

‘ang about sarge, they’ve got a banging knicker selection

If Twitter was anything to go by at the time, bored 20-something students were going to enter into an unusual pact with the country’s most notorious firm – ‘The Daily Mail Hit Squad’ – to take it to the scruffy ruffians taking part in the burnin’ an’ a lootin’.  Others predicted that millions of cops were gunna get murked. It was a nonevent on both sides.

But a man was jailed for 16 months for stealing an ice cream, taking just one lick before he was nabbed. Why wasn’t he as opportunistic as the other looters, why didn’t he finish the whole damn thing?! He doesn’t like coffee flavour. He wanted double choc chip.

A bloke also stole a single Nike Air Force 1 trainer in Slough. Apparently Pauline from down the road got the other one before him. Gutted.

Community activists planting for the future

Local residents lead by example today when they planted potatoes in the grounds of Victoria House in Whitecross. Activists hope this act of ‘guerrilla gardening’ will publicise their campaign to secure the future of the area for use by the wider community.

Victoria House and the surrounding land is currently owned by Herefordshire Council. At present developers McCarthy and Stone are in negotiations to buy the site and build some retirement flats. Their plans hang in the balance as permission to demolish the house has yet to be granted. Parents and teachers from the adjoining Lord Scudmaore School are also angered by the prospect of flats over looking their grounds and signed a petition in protest at the plans.

The campaign, lead by the charity St Nicholas Community Association, puts a far greater value on the site. Jane Gutteridge from the Community Association told the Heckler that due to a lack of community space in Whitecross they’d like to take over and run Victoria House on behalf of the community. “70% of people who responded to the councils City Plan consultation said they’d like to see the house retained for community use, we’ve got nothing in Whitecoss apart from a couple of run down church halls.”

If the campaign is successful they have some exciting plans for the site. “Groups like Herefordshire Growing Point and Growing Local is Going Local are keen to get involved and create a food education centre and community garden”, Jane told us, “Transition Hereford would also like to work with us to make the house environmentally sustainable.”

With the lack of facilities in Whitecross the campaign plans to host other much needed services including health advice clinics, pre-school groups, credit union, exercise classes and a cafe and cookery school.

So it appears that the council have a decision to make, either sell off Victoria House and make a fast buck, or actually do what they are supposed to do and think about providing for the people of Hereford.

Hereford Heckler #21 out now!

The latest issue of the Hereford Heckler, and the last in its current format, is now available online and will soon be hitting the streets.

This issue includes;

  • An exclusive article on the council sell-off of all its service
  • Taxpayers to pay for £27m new road
  • Child poverty ‘significant issue’ for Herefordshire
  • ‘We’re back!’ – the low-down on the Heckler, what we’ve been up to and what we’re doing next
  • Charles Pickles, executive board member of ‘Hereford Futures’ and blood-thirsty huntsman
  • City printing firm closes
  • The campaign against the government’s Workfare schemes
  • The battle over supermarkets in the county
  • and much more

To view or download this issue, click on the image below-