Bath Bomb #26 Special Edition Out Now

THE BATH BOMB

@nti-copyright: copy and distribute!
Issue #26
free/donation
Nov 09

“A noisy conscience hammering away on the shoulder of Bath”

Shock Exposé: B&NES To Slash 90% Of Public Sector Jobs

Bath Bomb has received a shocking set of documents that reveals B&NES Council’s plans to cut its workforce by 90% from 6,000 workers down to just 600. To make it worse, the ‘lucky’ 600 will have their job descriptions taken away, meaning they could be collecting bins one day and dealing with your council tax claim the next. On the 8th of October, unions were invited to a meeting with the council in which they were told that they could expect the massive job losses as part of a package that includes the mass privatization of public services and jobs in the Bath area.

The proposal to privatise 90% of council services and jobs is not just a massive assault on workers, it is also the most worrying attack on the people of Bath and the services they receive yet from a council that is increasingly showing itself to be interested in profit and greed over the needs of B&NES residents. This thrust to privatise services will lead to a decimation of the care provided for those most in need. There will be no public accountability, no security of services, and of course, no care at all for those who cannot afford it. If this proposal goes ahead in any form, it will mean the end of local government and all the vital public services that go with it, and the introduction of care and social services run by for-profit companies who put their own profits above the needs of the service users.

As recent history has shown us, privatization has never brought about greater efficiency and monetary saving for the end user (trains, buses and energy companies anyone?) – it has always led to a sad shadow of a service, hanging the people who rely on the services out to dry while private companies line their pockets. This is not just the sacking of many thousands of workers, it is the sacking of public services in Bath, and fighting to make sure that these crazy, greed-driven plans never go ahead will be one of the greatest challenges the people of Bath have ever faced. A massive campaign aimed at fighting back against the Council’s plans involving local trade unions, community groups and local activists is already gaining momentum. To get involved, contact bathactivistnet [at] yahoo.co.uk

What the proposals mean:

• 5,400 council employees sacked, or handed over to private companies
• Our public services privatized
• No accountability in local services
• Public services slashed, or cut altogether
• Public services only for those who can afford them

What we can do to stop the proposals:

• Send a letter of complaint to the Council
• Email us to get involved in the fight back
• Email local trade unions to send them your support
• Let council workers know that you support them

News From The Picket Lines

Local activists have been gearing up to support the posties in what looks set to be a long battle between workers and management. The posties are out on strike as a result of a series of attacks by Royal Mail and the government that would see postal services slashed, workers’ conditions changed for the worst and the privatization of the post service. This is not just a fight for jobs and conditions, but for frontline postal services such as post offices and regular deliveries which Royal Mail management are systematically trying to destroy. If we allow the postal service to fall into private hands, it will go the same way as the trains, the buses and the energy companies – more cost for a worse service, all for the sake of private profit.

October the 22nd saw the start of two days of postal strikes, including a 50-strong picket line at the Manvers Street post depot in Bath. The strikers were supported by local activists from the Trades Council, Bath Activist Network and the Bath I.W.W Branch who brought down solidarity donations and snacks for the striking workers. The strikes look set to continue, so why not show your support by popping down to the picket lines with some snacks or coffee or by popping a message of support near your letterbox. This is not just a fight for jobs, it is a fight to save a vital public service – if the posties lose, it could be weekly deliveries and £1 stamps by next year!

Helphire Help Themselves, We Suffer

To anyone not living in a mansion and driving a Bentley, the government’s claims that the recession is over comes across as a sick joke. Sure, the economy may have stabilised, and the bankers are once again pocketing wedges of our cash (like they ever really stopped), but what does it mean for the rest of us? Politicians across the spectrum are starting to think about where all of that money they gave to the banks will come from, and CEOs are wondering how to claw back their profit losses, and they are all reaching the same answer - cuts! All three parties have announced that they intend a wholesale round of public sector cuts if elected, all promising measures such as a one third cut in the number of firefighters, £2 billion off the education budget, the privatisation of the postal service, greenlighting more odious 'academy' schools and the wholesale dismantling of the NHS. Bosses, on the other hand, are going redundancy mad, with local firm Helphire shedding hundreds of jobs over the past year, and hundreds more in the pipeline as just one example of a pattern repeated up and down the country.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us picking up the tab for greedy, corrupt politicians, bastard bankers and scummy bosses who are all in the rich man’s club together, while they let us suffer. This doesn't have to be the way though; fighting trade unions such as the I.W.W, FBU, RMT and the CWU are leading a fightback locally and nationally to ensure that we, as workers and ex-workers get what we deserve. Our advice - join your sector’s union, join the IWW (a militant union for all workers that is growing by the day), get involved in the fightback for what you deserve - don't bear the brunt of a recession that you had no part in creating, and next time you see your boss, take that old school tie and fucking choke him with it! Is the recession over? Of course not, so get involved in the local campaign against recession, or for debt, bailiff, rent or employment advice by contacting bathactivistnet [at] yahoo.co.uk

http://www.iww.org.uk

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Direct Action Stations At Bathampton Meadows!

The Government Office of the South West have denied a public enquiry into the concreting of Bathampton Meadows, meaning the Council’s original green(ha ha)light for the project still stands. It also looks like the ‘Rapid’ Transit route, which ploughs through a nature reserve and dozens of back gardens (acquired by Compulsory Purchase Orders - forcing the garden owners to hand over the land) has got the go-ahead. The Meadows are home to bats, foxes, badgers, herons and cormorants, not to mention being a beautiful green space right on our doorstep, and not forgetting the fact that concreting over important floodplains has led to tragedy elsewhere (including the massive floods in Gloucestershire a couple of years back).

This decision is pretty bad news, but it is what we expected from greedy and corrupt politicians. The battle is not over, but now we are fighting on more familiar territory - direct action and protest. There will hopefully be a public meeting very soon involving BAN and other groups opposed to the plans, so let’s start dreaming up some schemes to save the Meadows now! As is often the case, appealing to the good side of politicians has failed (largely due to politicians not having a good side), so now it is up to the enraged population of Bath, who put ecology and community before profit, to jam a spanner in the works of this stupid and ecocidal scheme once and for all!

http://www.response2route.co.uk/wordpress/?p=221
http://www.savebathamptonmeadows.org.uk/

Posh Parasites Pooh Pooh Punt

In between ranting, propagandising and generally getting on the nerves of Bath’s well-to-do, some of us at Bath Bomb HQ like nothing more than a gentle stroll down the canal to unwind. On our way down, we find friendly faces, decent conversation and beautiful boats dotting the towpath. One of the most spectacular boats belongs to a Mr Ian Gill, who has covered his home in elaborate carvings and designs. Mr Gill is also a central part of Bath life, getting involved in various local cultural and charitable events - an all round decent bloke, with a very interesting boat. But, the boat is not just interesting, it is an eco boat! In an attempt to lower his ecological impact, Mr Gill punts his engineless boat from place to place, generally between Bathampton and Bath so that he is close to his work. But British Waterways (boo hiss) and an array of local snobs (bigger boos and hisses) have decided that the boat is an 'eyesore' and that he is not travelling far enough to be considered a 'continuous cruiser' (this issue started when he was too ill to move his boat). So now the NIMBY brigade, backed up by BW, are attempting to boot Ian off the cut. If we allow them to get rid of our artistic friend, we will not only see someone lose their home, but we will lose another little bit of what makes Bath such an interesting and quirky place to live. Ian’s boat is covered in banners and petitions, so next time you take a stroll down the beautiful Kennet and Avon, why not stop to sign and give support to a bloke who is the victim of the prejudice that is all too common in some areas of our fair city.

Enough Room To Swing A Cat

It’s been a long time coming, but activists in Bath are soon hoping to open up a radical social centre in the heart of the city. Located at a large formerly commercial building on Upper Bristol Road left abandoned by its owners since at least 2001, the renamed Black Cat centre (in honour of the industrial tradition of the ‘wildcat strike’ for better working conditions, particularly in these hard times) is due for opening soon. Although commercially unmarketable due to its location and state of repair, the building is perfect for uses such as this.

But what is a social centre? Well, a social centre can mean many things to many people; in this case, Black Cat will be a consensus-run counter-capitalist initiative, where everyone has an equal stake and an equal say, offering up a living example of a world based on solidarity, mutual aid and co-operation, rather than selfishness and authority. Operating as eco-friendly and free as possible, the space is open for use by all the local community, for non-commercial and progressive purposes. Established so far is a permanent FreeShop, an info-stall for local events and campaigns, a radical lending library for your educational needs, and samba dancing classes, but other things are in the pipeline: legal rights self-education sessions, reading groups, art workshops, nature walks, and donation-based community cafe, among others. If you or your group needs an affordable meeting space, therapy room, art studio, rehearsal space, exhibition venue, or if you have any other such schemes you’d love to become reality, get in touch: bathsocialcentre [at] gmail.com

Black Cat’s is scheduled for its opening night on Friday the 20th November, with a gig featuring folk artists Robb Johnson, Tracey Curtis and Cosmo, and a community open day on the Saturday.

EVENTS

Bath Hunt Saboteurs meetings, 2nd and 4th Monday of the month, 8pm, The Bell, Walcot Street

Debt advice drop-in, Tuesdays, 4-7pm, Black Cat social centre, Upper Bristol Road

London Road Food Co-op, Wednesdays, 4-7pm, Riverside Community Centre, London Road

The Lost Plot workday, Thursdays, 10am-dusk, Bathampton

Bath Stop The War Coalition vigil, Saturdays, 11.30am-12.30, Bath Abbey Courtyard

Recycle Your Sundays, Sundays, 10.30am, starts Abbey Churchyard, the regular series of sociable, easy-paced cycle rides, http://www.rysbath.org.uk/ Hazel 01225 469199

Bath postal office workers’ picket, Saturday 31st November, from 4.30am(!), Manvers Street entrance to the sorting office,

Free Vegan Food Fayre, Saturday 31st November, 12-4pm, Broadmead Baptist Church, Union Street entrance Bristol

Bath Activist Network meeting, Thursday 5th November, 7.30-9pm, downstairs at The Hobgoblin, St James Parade

Bath Animal Action meeting, Monday 9th November, 8-9pm, backroom of The Bell, Walcot Street

Transition Open Forum, Tuesday 10th November, 7.15pm, Widcombe Social Club, http:// www.transitionbath.org

Bath Green Drinks, Wednesday 11th November, 8pm, Rising Sun, Grove Street

Bath FreeShop, Saturday 14th November, 12-3pm, outside Pump Rooms, Stall Street

Broadlands Orchardshare Volunteering Day, Saturday 14th November, 12-4pm, Broadlands Orchard, Box Road, Bathford, email broadlandsorchardshare [at] googlemail.com or phone 07532 472 256

Bath Cycling Campaign meeting, Monday 16th November, 7.30pm, The Rising Sun, Grove Street, http://www.bathcyclingcampaign.org.uk

Bath Friends of the Earth meeting, Wednesday 18th November, 8pm, The Cork, Westgate Buildings, http://www.bath-foe.org.uk

Black Cat social centre opening night, Friday 20th November, time tbc, Upper Bristol Road

The Big Kebele Party ’09, Saturday 21st November, 9-2am, Easton Community Centre, Chelsea Road, Bristol, £6 entry, http://www.kebelecoop.org

Transition Drinks, Wednesday 25th November, 8pm, upstairs at The Raven, http://www.transitionbath.org.uk/events.html

Theory Corner: Debt Con Gone?

A workshop at last month’s Bristol Anarchist Bookfair brought out some interesting ideas about debt. At the Gleneagles G8 meeting of the industrial world’s so-called leaders in 2005, it was agreed that 18 of the world’s poorest countries would be forgiven $40 billion of their official state debt. Even though that original sum was incurred arming paramilitary police forces to crush democratic movements in those countries, or was squandered on building Sub-Saharan palatial swimming pools and other luxuries for the rich, it was the common people that suffered through debt, with IMF adjustment programs wiping away their public services and self-sufficiency, obligating them to sell away necessities like food and textiles for rock-bottom prices to the west. The IMF didn’t send bailiffs round to Idi Amin’s son. Wiping that financial slate clean was unarguably the right thing.

And yet when a similarly deliberate process is used to destroy the lives of people here, with more and more petty laws sending higher proportions to prison, the sell-off of public transport and undermining of hospitals, education and welfare, the smashing of unions and community, and the increasing precariousness of modern working conditions, no one really bats an eyelid. We get a second or third job, we get wasted on the weekend, we take out a loan on a widescreen TV, all in a bid to temporarily sidestep the anxiety and stress that’s on its way. Rather than being paid sufficient wages, we’re encouraged to borrow more and more. An excess of capital is created by exploiting a resource – us – and then lent back to that same exploited resource to generate interest, and tie us into a web of mortgages, loans, crippling repayments, repossessions and red letters. And if you escape this, it’s not down to being more responsible or a better person, it’s just a matter of pure chance.

The Citizens Advice Bureau reported in February 2009 that the average client owes nearly 17,000, a 66% increase since 2001. Thus, the average debt level is 18 times the person’s monthly income, and would take 93 years to clear at an affordable rate – leading to mental breakdown, relationship disintegration, and suicide: a death sentence, in effect. Repossessions are up 36% from last year, 20 homes are repossessed each week, and bailiffs visit 50 a day for council tax alone – using loud knocking, shouting and neighbours as a weapon to embarrass people on their visits; when what really should happen is that neighbours come out in their masses to see these vultures off – bailiffs should be too scared to stick around. Wiping all personal debt would liberate millions and is unarguably the right thing to do. So begs the question: how do we do it?

http://www.eb-da.org/?p=105

One Down…

German energy giant E-on have repeatedly put off making a decision as to whether to build a new coal power station at Kingsnorth. Now they’re saying their plans are put off indefinitely, citing the recession as a concern. Couldn’t have anything to do with those pesky activists, could it?

E-on’s head office has been invaded; they were forced to abandon their graduate recruitment drive last year after protests at several campuses; Kingsnorth’s cooling towers have been damaged by Greenpeace; last year a weeklong camp was held there by the Camp For Climate Action, during which activists tried to break in by land and by boat; last Fossil Fools Day someone snuck in all on their own and pressed the big red off button!

It’s very likely that Kingsnorth will never be built. We can’t afford to forget though, that there are still plans to build seven other coal plants around the country – an EU decision is imminent as to whether to grant funding for a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) demonstration plant at Hatfield, near Doncaster, which is widely expected to get approval. Aside from the fact that “capturing” emissions and “storing” them under the ground sounds pretty dodgy, the technology won’t be commercially available for at least 20 years, yet it’s being used as an excuse to press ahead with new coal. We don’t have time to wait for CCS – we need to drastically cut emissions now.

This is why we need to stop coal, and the decision on Kingsnorth shows that we can do it. We’ve got a big job ahead of us, but throughout history changes have been made by ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

http://www.wdm.org.uk/campaign-success-eon-shelves-plans-dirty-coal-king...

Bath Activist Network are a local umbrella group campaigning on issues as diverse as development, environmentalism, anti-war, animal rights, workers’ rights and more. Helping to produce The Bath Bomb, we are open to anyone, and our members range from trade unionists to anarchists, liberals to greens, and people who just want to change Bath for the better. For details on meetings, demos, or just to get in touch, email bathactivistnet [at] yahoo.co.uk, or see our website: http://www.bathactivistnetwork.blogspot.com

And now, to the disclaimer: As anyone is free to contribute, the opinions expressed in each article are not necessarily reflective of each contributor. Naturally, any right-wing or corporate bullshit will be binned and spat on. Needless to say, the opinions of the author of this disclaimer does not necessarily represent the views of any other contributor...

Co-Mutiny On The Brizzle

As well as all the actions a-sailing the seven days of the Bristol Co-Mutiny, workshops and other such treasures were sighted. The flagship of the fleet was unmistakeably the convergence space, a squatted church at Park Place in central Bristol, home port to film exhibitions and performances, a kids’ space and freeshop, and regular donation-based slap-up dinners. Of the workshops, they were many and varied, encouraging sustainable living and self-empowerment, one way or another: highlights include plant identification, knitting/spinning, sound tech and break dancing! Shiver me timbers, but there were anarchic madness, too. A 50-strong 'No-Borders' demo and workshop took place at the Trinity Road police station (from where asylum seekers often get detained without warning while signing in), and 60 salty seadogs boarded the centre for the Anarchist Olympics day.

On the Wednesday, a motley crew of climate refugees and upset penguins invaded Bristol airport, leafleting passengers, and tummy-diving on the luggage racks. While businessmen fly short-haul to their meetings, thousands of people around the world are being displaced by the effects of climate change. Bristol Airport plans to expand must not be allowed to go ahead, savvy?

Things came to a head on Friday the 18th September with ‘Repossess the Banks’, designed to illustrate the glaring inequalities in our society that lead to working people being kicked out of their homes because of the banking crisis, whilst those responsible get paid avast bonuses with our booty, and also called for community control of all the banks, especially those now kept afloat by public investments. On the day, over 100 gathered bedecked in snappy carnival masks to make merry in a tour of Bristol’s financial district. Police were initially wrong-footed in a hectic, impromptu coal-dumping stunt in BT (funders of coal extraction), and retaliated with sudden and savage brutality, dragging faces across concrete and panicking their horses, against a modest salvo of paint bombs and custard pies. But once the smoke cleared, the good ship Co-Mutiny set sail, and the hundreds involved fond it an educational and fun event well worth repeating in the future.

http://comutiny.wordpress.com/
http://bristolnoborders.wordpress.com/
http://www.nobristolairportexpansion.co.uk/

Crap Local Cops Let BAN Meet Cameron!

Friday the 18th September saw everyone’s least favourite toff scumbag David Cameron (you know, that bloke who wants to bring back foxhunting, slash public spending, give more of our cash to the bankers, dismantle the NHS, concrete over Bathampton Meadows etc. etc.) visit Bath for an 'open' meeting. In fact, to get into this open meeting, you had to pre-book, provide ID (despite the Tories allegedly being against ID) and submit to various security checks and approval from the local Tory branch leader.

These best laid plans were ruined however by an anonymous whistle blower who contacted BAN with the time and location of the meeting. This information was then 'accidentally' plastered all over the internet, and before long, both BAN and the Save Bathampton Meadows crew had called protests. The turnout was pretty decent, involving around 20 assorted malcontents and a large police presence. The protest gained support from the general public, but not the lads and ladies queuing to get into the meeting, literally all of whom were obviously from a certain class (we'll give you a clue, it wasn't working or middle!).

The protest passed peacefully, and as the BAN contingent were about to call it a night, a posh comb-over in a suit (evidently the bloke who put on the event) appeared behind a locked gate and told the cops to make sure that no BANners got inside. The police smugly replied that they had the situation under control, and the BAN activists, who had been preparing to go home, smelt a challenge. As it happened, dodging security was more than easy, and within minutes, and right under the noses of the dozy plod, two activists were over the wall and into the 'Cameron compound'. As heckling was about to begin, the BANners were accosted by a posh prat in a tweed suit, issuing commands in what was either posh speak that the rest of us aren't privy to, or gibberish! However, the handcuffs and equipment on his belt got the message across, and BAN, being reasonable folks, left the building, stopping only to ask the cops who had promised not to let them in for the keys to the gate. Much hilarity followed as the cops got confused about the law, ranted about foie-gras and desperately tried to concoct a reason to arrest the activists. Having set alarm bells ringing at Cameron’s Eton reunion and confounded the local cops (again), the protest faded into the night for a well-earned pint! Thank god we weren't the bad type of terrorists, or there would have been a lot of red faces and embarrassing questions in the Bath cop shop!

Review: Bath Bus Station

Directed by: Multi
Starring: First Bus
Duration: Probably not many years
Classification: Not suitable for persons of 15 years of age or over (or under)
Genre: Road Movie/Horror
Black and white
England, 2009

In the absence of an usherette I found myself a charmlessly utilitarian metal seat. However, from there I couldn’t see whether the main star – the X39 to Bristol – was about to make an appearance because it was behind a large map and opaque doors. By the time I’d gone to find out when the leading role was due someone else had nabbed my seat. During the interval there were no toilets because they only open during office hours.

There was no kiosk for popcorn or indeed any kind of refreshments – just a vending machine with overpriced, tooth rotting multinational juice which was in any case out of order. Rubbish on the ground because there were no recycling bins. Rules, regulations and surveillance. Three days after it opened the First empire struck back by putting the ticket prices up. What kind of a show is this?

Stars out of ten: NONE

Anyone who has had a brief encounter with the new Bath bus station will know it is bad and ugly when it could have been so good. Just imagine, gentle passenger, if there was a community-controlled public transport system in a society where resources were directed into socially useful projects. What a technicolour classic Bath bus station could have been! The Edwardian façade of the much-loved Churchill House retained as a rotunda with geothermal heating. On the roof-top a café with stunning views over the River Avon and the city of Bath. Room inside the building for transport help and bookings service, accessible twenty-four hour toilets (flushed with rain water and with urine harvesting facilitated of course) and perhaps a small exhibition space. The concourse built along the riverside with roof gardens and solar panels above providing electricity for real-time electronic information displays. Local artwork on the model of the Lisbon metro where painting and sculpture transforms the space for commuters. Oh and dry secure storage for bicycles and… sorry, got to go now, I’m about to be kicked out for loitering.

What A Bunch Of Hunts

Well, here we go again, another year, another hunt season. Hunt ban or no hunt ban, the last two months have seen hunts up and down the country engaging in ‘cubbing’ – early morning forays into our delightful deforested countryside, illegally teaching the new year’s batch of young foxhounds to get a taste for fox-flesh. Likewise, hunt saboteurs have been equally busy, getting up at silly o’clock, disrupting the hunts, masking fox scents, calling away the packs and avoiding hunt violence. However, from November 1st, hunting season officially starts, horse-riding, horsey-teethed, shiny red coats and all.

Superficial steps were taken with the woefully weak hunt ban of February ‘05, but if the Tories get in, even that will go, and sabs will be needed more than ever. If you have what it takes to save our wildlife, give Bath Hunt Saboteurs a call: 07854 062336, or come to the meetings on the second and fourth Monday of the month, 8pm at The Bell on Walcot Street.

http://www.hsa.enviroweb.org/