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Archive for January, 2011

By Councillor Maya de Souza

The tough times that students and others are likely to face over the next few years leave little to be happy about. However, it is good news and very reassuring to see this new age of responsibility amongst our young people and huge levels of determination. Its clearly about more than tuition fees. Students are supporting campaigns from the excellent and imaginative Uncut tax avoidance campaign to justice for Gaza and the protection of our public services. I am proud to see Camden’s young people play such a major part in this.

They understandably feel a sense of being let down by the older generations and left with a debt to pay back. We had the free education, if not as universal as at the moment, and the benefit of a well-funded welfare state. Bankers and others in the City earned and continue to earn astronomical amounts – clearly unrelated to effort pushing up the cost of living in London and without paying much in terms of tax revenue. And in the end, the taxpayer has had to bail out the banks and the welfare state appears to be in danger.

There are some even bigger debts which they will no doubt soon become aware of, if they are not already. These relate to the huge levels of poverty in many parts of the world,  exacerbated by our trade system, which create instability and weaken the social order. And perhaps even more so, the debt from having burnt, with so little restraint, vast amounts of fossil fuels emitting greenhouse gas emissions into the air. The costs of adaptation to climate change are likely to be impossibly large and unaffordable especially for poorer countries. In this country, the debt will also be large, adding to our deficit.

I shudder to think what our young people will feel when they recognise what has recklessly been allowed to happen. But it is reassuring to see them campaign with so much determination – and I hope they will join the growing grassroots movement for sustainable ways of life, peace and eradication of mass poverty. Their increased activism makes me feel that we have some chance of achieving the changes that we need to see for the sake of fairness between generations, equity across the globe, and global safety.

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by Natalie Bennett

There was a huge meeting — more than 200 people crammed into Camden council chamber — last night to launch Camden United Against the Cuts.

A great deal was said, and anger expressed, and it is hard to do justice to it all, but here’s a few highlights:

National Union of Teachers – The pupil premium is “an utter, utter con”. Money is being taken from deprived inner cities and given to Surrey and Devon. It’s not that they dont need resources, but the money shouldn’t be taken from here. “The branch has instructed me to organise a strike to protest at the vandalism.”

Definitely winning the “drawing the hollow laugh of the night” was a speaker from UCL, who said that students had been given a rapid political education. “Writing to MPs doesnt work, voting Lib Dem doesnt work; you have to break the rules to have an impact.”

Jane, a local parent, said she didn’t want to have to choose between her daughter’s care and her job. “We use Coram Play Scheme – no doubt I’m biased but it is the most fantastic in borough. We have to act now before the February council meeting.”

Green Party member Jane Ennis spoke about the campaign to save Camden’s libraries that was won 15 years ago. “We can do it again.”

Andrea, a council tenant involved in South Hampstead Against the Cuts spoke about the fear over the closure of a local respite care centre, and grave concerns about youth services.

George Binnet in the chair, applauding a powerful contribution from the UKUncut speaker, was being a trifle facetious when he said: “Thanks for that great injection of fighting spirit, and now Cllr Theo Blackwell…”

Ruth from the Unison Retired Members Branch spoke about how she is involved in running health service for asylum seekers, and in that capacity had just received a letter from private health provider offer a day seminar at the cost of £700 per participant. Addressing the councillors present, she said: “If council is paying £700 per delegate, I warn you that the voluntary sector will be watching.”

Upcoming Camden events
Tuesday January 25, Open Camden United organising meeting, 7pm NUT offices, Mabledon Place
Wednesday, January 26, for the EMA day of action, there will be a teach-in at Euston train station from 5pm
Monday 28 February, Lobby of Camden Council, 6pm, Camden Town Hall

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This will be discussing the draft delivery plan for a greener Camden. Groups allocated funding from the Camden communities green fund will also be sharing the progress they are making.

Registration is essential and places limited – please encourage your contacts to book their place online at camden.gov.uk/greensummit.

On Saturday 29 January 2011, 9.30am to 2.30pm, at Maria Fidelis School, Upper school site, 34 Phoenix Road, NW1 1TA (five minutes walk from Euston Station).

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