City school to take over military land?

TA Harold StreetHereford Cathedral School is rumoured to be looking into a landshare deal with the Territorial Army at its Harold Street site.

Sources within the school have indicated the front field of the TA centre is to become new hockey pitches for pupil use.

Plans are still being finalised but the development may prove to be a stepping stone to open the land up for use by the community.

The field has a long history of community use, whether legally or illegally, attracting many local residents who used to climb the old wall to play football and other games. Not surprisingly, they were quite often chased off the site and threatened with a ‘clip around the ear hole’.

Up until the second world war, the space was used regularly for sporting matches by the cathedral school themselves, as well as Hereford Rugby Club and Bartonsham Rovers. Posts and canvas were also added to the top of the wall to stop locals watching for free from the road. Despite this, there appears to be no record of any community activity on the green after the 1960s.

The present day bars that enclose the land were put up as added security during the height of the Troubles.

In more recent years, St James and Bartonsham Community Association has negotiated unsuccessfully with Herefordshire Council to have the bars removed and the land returned to community use.

Perhaps this military base is best not cited within a residential area at all. Are the cathedral school plans the first indication that the TA may be considering packing up its things for good?

1914: Teachers strike for better pay

This year is the centenary of the 1914 Herefordshire teacher’s strike.

Teachers first walked out on Monday 2 February in a fight for higher wages, with the Daily Telegraph at the time reporting 69 schools closed by the Tuesday.

Many pupils refused to go to school and be taught by scabs, with significant disturbances happening around the county.

These photos (taken from that week’s Hereford Times) show some of the mischief pupils created in support of their teachers.

Ledbury school strikeLedbury: “Miss Creasy, the new mistress, surrounded by girls who prevent her entering the school.”

Ashperton school strikeAshperton: “Group of Ashperton children who refused to go to school because their master (Mr Bolton) was on strike, and a new man (Mr Dry) was taking his place.”

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.

Herefordshire workers join biggest walkout for decades

Workers from many industries took strike action on Wednesday to defend attacks on their pensions from the Tory government.

Teachers, paramedics, nurses, local government staff and others from across Herefordshire downed tools and took part in the strike.

Picket lines were in place outside many offices and schools and over 200 people attended the midday rally in High Town, where speeches were heard from a number of union officials.

Unison organiser, Steve Akers, called on workers to “debate and win the arguments surrounding the pensions and cuts in your communities, workplaces, pubs and clubs”. “Go back to work and organise,” he said.

Herefordshire Unison are continuing to organise around the pensions issue and have called another strike committee meeting for next Tuesday 6thDecember. Taking place at 12.30 at the Town or Shire Hall (TBC), the meeting is currently open to officials from local union branches only.

Yet the Heckler believes that these meetings should be open to all peopleaffected by the pensions issue, including workers, families, service users and all involved in the struggle against government cuts.

Strike action around the region also received great support. Six hundred people took part in a march in Worcester, after speeches and a rally at Tramps Nightclub. Unions have said over 75% of Worcestershire teachers were on strike. In Gloucester 2,000 people joined the mass rally at Gloucester Park, after marching from Shire Hall.

Nationally, the picture is much the same. Large rallies and thousands of pickets taking place across the country, with over 2 million public sector workers taking part in the action and more supporting them in rallies, on picket lines and in solidarity actions. A national demonstration was held in Birmingham, with tens of thousands also marching in LondonBristol and Manchester.Almost 70% of schools were closed, over 42% of the London Ambulance Service was on strike, along with a third of local council workers and a quarter of civil servants.

Students have acted in solidarity with striking lecturers and other public sector workers, showing that the  pensions struggle is linked with tuition fees issue and other government ‘austerity measures.’ A series of occupations has taken place at universities across the country in the run-up to November 30th, and on the day itself. So far, students have taken part in occupations at Aberdeen, the University of West England, Goldsmiths, Cambridge, Birmingham, Edinburgh, the University of East Anglia, Liverpool, Essex and Royal Holloway. Many also joined picket lines and demonstrations on the day.

Others, including anti-capitalist/anarchist protesters, electricians and UK Uncut also took action. A group of activists affiliated to the Occupy London group spent the day touring London, supporting pickets, joining protests and linking up with other demonstrators. In the evening they broke off and entered a building on Haymarket, occupying the office of Mick Davies, CEO of mining company, Xstrata, a ‘leading light of the FTSE 100’ and one of the highest paid. Activists unfurled a banner saying ‘All power to the 99%’ on the roof, as police kettled supporters below and moved in to make over 20 arrests.

Meanwhile in London, a group of striking workers were kettled by police outside a library in Hackney in a move that shows the increasingly anti-democratic direction that policing in the capital is taking. Forty-one strikers were arrested for a breach of the peace.

Electricians, who are currently involved in a campaign of early morning pickets and occupations to defend their working contracts, also supported the striking public sector workers.

Anti-cuts group, UK Uncut held what they called a day of ‘SolidariTea.’ They attended picket lines with tea and food for cold strikers.

We cannot doubt the significance of the action. The sheer number of people taking part is something that hasn’t been seen in years. Workers from different industries are showing solidarity with each other and breaking down the government’s public vs. private sector propaganda. Strikers are joining together with students and anti-cuts activists. The struggle is being broadened, with tactics diversifying.

We need to ensure that the links made are cemented and the momentum is kept up. One-day strikes alone will not defeat the government’s programme of cuts and attacks on the workers of this country. More occupations, blockades, go-slows, pickets and protests against government targets, banks and the super-rich are needed. We have many weapons in our arsenal – let’s use them!

Hereford strike committee meeting, 12.30pm Tuesday 6th December, Town or Shire Hall (TBC).

All out on November 30th!

Support striking workers in Hereford – rally in High Town at 12 noon, Wednesday 30th November. 

Wednesday 30th November is to see the largest strike action by British workers in decades. An estimated 3 million public sector workers including teachers, NHS workers and local council employees, will strike in opposition to the Coalition Government’s planned changes to public sector pensions, which will mean workers paying more into pension schemes and working for longer. The TUC coordinated action will include picket lines and rallies across the country, with members of over 20 unions taking part.

Students are supporting the strikes, along with anti-cuts activists, UK Uncut,anarchist groups and many others. Unsurprisingly, the government and other mainstream parties have attacked and condemned the striking workers, and the media have been very hostile towards them.

It is essential that we stand together with public sector workers, against the planned changes to pensions and against other attacks on working class people. It is only through sustained and coordinated action like this, with workers standing together and acting in solidarity with one another, that the destructive government spending cuts can be defeated. An injury to one is an injury to all – support striking workers!

Rallies in support of the strike are also happening at the following places in the region:

  • Gloucester- March startes at 1pm outside Shire Hall. Rally at 2pm at Gloucester Park 
  • Worcester- March starts at 11.30am on Mealcheapen Street. Rally takes place between 12.30-2.30pm at St Andrews Methodist Church.

Details of events across the country can be seen on Unison’s ‘Day of action events map.’

Anarchists have set up a website to keep people updated about the activities of anarchist and radical groups on November 30th. You can view it here.