East Midlands Trains have launched an attack on free space and freedom of movement in Sheffield, closing off public access to our railway station. Their plans to install ticket gates at the bridge through Sheffield station, cutting off access to a vital route, have faced determined opposition from the grassroots group Residents Against Station Closure, and a poll on the subject found 95% of Sheffield residents opposed it, but EMT have refused to listen to objections. They claimed they were going into negotiations, and then suddenly closed the route off without issuing any warning. Residents of Norfolk Hill and Park Hill, and anyone using the tram stop at the back of the station, will be forced to use a longer and more inconvenient route, making life much harder for disabled people and those with young children.
But this issue doesn’t just affect them: it’s a sign of a much larger and more worrying trend. A spokesman for East Midlands trains said that “a line had to be drawn”, and we agree - by making this decision, EMT have put their profit margins ahead of the views of the 2,076 Sheffielders who signed a petition opposing the barrier, and we can’t let them get away with it. It raises serious questions about democracy when a scheme so universally unpopular with pretty much everyone can be pushed through. As for our elected representatives, MP Richard Caborn boasts that he’s “told them not to do a daft thing like this again”, but what’re the chances of them actually listening to him? If we’re going to defend the principle that public needs come before private profit, it’ll take more than fine words from politicians - we need to build a large and militant movement, capable of scaring the arrogance out of bosses who’ll never listen to our views unless they’re forced to.
For more infomation about Residents Against Station Closure their website address is:
Anti-militarists disrupt careers fair
At the beginning of this month Sheffield students targeted military recruiters and arms dealers at the University’s Spring careers fair, demanding they have a say over who is allowed on campus. The stalls of QinetiQ, Rolls Royce, the Army and the Navy were all dismantled with protesters bagging up materials from the stalls and removing them from campus.
The careers fairs, held in university buildings, are events run by private companies for a profit and often include employers such as the Army, Navy, Rolls Royce and Quinetiq. Rolls Royce is renowned for its arms deals providing billions of pounds of weapons to countries (including dictatorships like Saudi Arabia) across the world every year. Students also protested about the military, including the Army and Navy, being allowed on campus. These institutions continue with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while advertising nice safe jobs and luring graduates in with promises of free further training which is in fact given in return for years of service. Rolls Royce is one of the top investors in the university, investing in research which ultimately is used in weapons manufacture, students attacking the company felt education and expertise should not be used for arms companies purely because they are willing to pile money into it! Students and staff should have a say in how money is spent and where funding comes from instead of the university being run as a business in the interests of profit. The university has repeatedly refused to listen to the large body of students at staff who wish to end the university’s ties with the military and arms trade.
Fargate poses the Question - Lib Dems What are they good for?
Seriously, what is the point of the Lib Dems? As far as anyone can tell, their main selling point seems to be that they’re not Labour or the Tories – so basically, like the BNP for people who aren’t racists. And if you think that sounds useless, you’d be right. It is undeniably the case that, unlike their two main rivals, they’ve never been trusted with much power, so they’ve never had the opportunity to make any really disasterously bad decisions, but then again I’ve never started a war or buggered up the economy, and you don’t see me claiming that I should be trusted to run the country as a result.
But what do they actually have to say for themselves? One of their biggest boasts is that they’ve spent nearly half a million pounds on 15 extra Police Community Support Officers. You can debate whether or not more cops are a
good investment, but it’s hard to deny that PCSOs are utterly useless – they’re not even real cops, they can’t join the Police Federation, and can only make citizen’s arrests the same as anyone else, they’re not trusted enough to carry batons or CS spray, and South Yorkshire ones don’t even have handcuffs. But they are allowed to carry rubber gloves. Basically, they’re no different from anyone else having a stroll around the place, except the Lib Dems are paying half a million quid for 15 of them. They’re not there to tackle proper crimes like rape or murder, most of their duties consist of things like hassling beggars or stopping people littering – we can all agree litter is a bad thing, but is it really that far up the list of problems the world faces today?
Their councillor Sylvia Anginotti actually boasts that they “pressure” the government to provide more help to “the business community” - i.e. bosses. They claim that they’ve helped persuade the government to lower business
rates – so in other words, money that could be used to pay for schools, hospitals, or even more of the useless fake cops they seem so keen on will instead be staying in the pockets of rich business owners. And they seem to think this is something to be proud of.
Even more inexplicably, they’ve refused to even discuss a government offer of £370,000 to help fund free swimming for pensioners and children – although presumably if the children involved were re-branded as Youth Police Swimming Pool Support Officers, they’d be all for it. They’ve also pushed through pay cuts for low-paid workers like nursery staff while hiring two new managers on £50,000 salaries – a decision Labour went along with at the time, and then criticised once it’d been made in an attempt to score points. And they’ve cut funding for community groups – after all, who needs to encourage a genuine sense of community when you can just throw cash at ever-increasing numbers of fake bobbies?
At a time like this, genuine alternatives to the status quo are desperately needed, but the Lib Dems’ unspiring record makes it very clear that they have no real alternative to offer. Lib Dems – what are they good for?
Plus much more inside ...