Tag Archives: liverpool

Victory as People Power Forces Liverpool Council Homeless Fines U-Turn

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Liverpool Industrial Workers of the World unreservedly welcomes the sensational decision of Liverpool City Council to scrap their consultation on plans to fine the homeless a whole eight days ahead of its planned conclusion. We are delighted that homeless people now no longer face this added threat of being penalised for the social crime of homelessness.

Like Oxford, Hackney and Wycombe authority before them, Mayor Joe Anderson’s council has floated the idea, hoping it will go through, only to be overwhelmed by the public backlash against it. In doing so, the council has shown the potential of mass working class action to make changes in the world. Anderson and Liverpool Labour have given way on this one issue, because it risked jeopardising the rest of their austerity agenda.

Only yesterday morning, Liverpool IWW started a Facebook event page proposing a demonstration against the homeless fines. Within hours, scores had pledged they would attend, hundreds of people had been invited, and many were leaving comments on the page. Some raised their own demands, such as Joe Anderson paying back the £89,000 of public money he received from the council for legal advice on a private matter (he’d been sacked by a school he did no work for).

The homeless fines threatened to be a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’. When asked by the media for a reaction in response to Liverpool IWW’s press release, the council retreated a step. The council’s deployment of pro-cuts Councillor Rachael O’Byrne to the Facebook event page confirms this.

Liverpool Labour’s explanation for the whole affair beggars belief. According to Liverpool Confidential , “Anderson intervened to have the scheme scrapped after hearing about the proposals yesterday [Wednesday]”. Councillor Steve Munby went on, “The proposal was not a decision by the council cabinet, but was drawn up by officers following complaints from residents and the BID [Business Improvement District].”

If we are charitable to Anderson, it still looks devastatingly bad. He is the mayor of the city, he is paid a large salary, and he dines with the greedy business owners who were pushing this scheme on a very regular basis. If the official story is to be believed, he was somehow unaware of the council consultation nearly a month after it began on 9th October. He is therefore totally out of touch with the affairs of his own council, and totally incompetent.

The far more likely explanation, of course, is that Anderson, O’Byrne, Munby and colleagues are simply lying through their teeth.

Liverpool IWW will continue to fight for the interests of all working class people in the local area, so we can guarantee that this is not the last that Mayor Anderson and all his bloodsoaked poverty pimps will hear of us.

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Press Release: Liverpool IWW Calls For Demonstration Against Fines for the Homeless

homelessness

Liverpool IWW condemns the council’s proposed “Public Space Protection Order, under which the homeless could be fined up to £1,000 for the ‘crime’ of begging. We call on the people of Liverpool to show their opposition, by demonstrating at St Luke’s bombed out church a week on Saturday (14th November) from 12 noon, and signing the Change.org petition, which already had nearly 7,000 signatures at the time of going to press.

It is shocking that we find ourselves in a position where we need to argue for the right of homeless people not to be fined for their poverty, but thanks to greedy mayor Joe Anderson this is exactly the situation we are in. No-one begs for the fun of it. People beg out of desperation, because our society has badly let them down. £1,000 would be a huge amount of money for any working class person, but for a homeless person it is almost unimaginable, and could never be paid.

If Liverpool Labour wanted people to stop begging, they would stop implementing policies which massively increase poverty in our city. Instead, they aim to criminalise deprivation, in order to create a corporate paradise in Liverpool One, the Central ‘Business Improvement District’, and beyond. While Joe Anderson claims that his hands are tied by the Tory government when he makes spending cuts, it is his anti-homeless crusade which really shows what kind of man he is. Not content with using the police to starve homeless people out of a former bank a few months back, he now seeks to use crushing fines to force homeless people out of the city where they may well have family and friends.

On a different note, we worry that the proposed ban on “erecting unauthorised structures in public places such as gazebos, tents, tables and chairs, stages, temporary shelters, boxes and crates” will mean an attack on the free expression of those who want to speak or perform publicly, or distribute information.

But it’s not too late for Anderson and co. to save face. We note that councils in Oxford, Hackney and Wycombe have proposed similar measures, only to abandon them when they’ve realised the depth of public opposition.

Our union, the Industrial Workers of the World, has a long history of both organising the homeless and fighting for free speech. We’ll continue to do so as long as there is breath in our bodies.

Liverpool IWW Spread Message that Claimant Advocacy is Not a Crime!

(c) William Dolce

This afternoon, members and supporters of Liverpool IWW held an information picket outside the town centre job centre, on Williamson Square. We are one of several IWW groups and other activist organisations holding demonstrations at job centres this week. Scottish Unemployed Workers Network called for solidarity with claimant advocate Tony Cox, who faces court in Forfar tomorrow on the ludicrous charges of threatening behaviour, refusing to give his name and address and resisting arrest. He was arrested at an Arbroath job centre last January, whilst representing a highly vulnerable unemployed woman.

(c) William Dolce

Scottish Unemployed Workers Network assert that:

“We believe that this case highlights the climate of fear that is evident within many job centres, but that it is not only benefit claimants that are treated with contempt. Welfare advisors are also being subjected to bullying and intimidation, as in the recent case of Mike Vallance at High Riggs Job Centre, when they attempt to represent, often highly vulnerable, benefit claimants. The SUWN will resist any and all attempts to curb the rights of welfare and citizen advocates to represent the unemployed, and we ask you to join us in our fight to ensure that ADVOCACY IS NOT A CRIME.”

In Liverpool today, we distributed info provided by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, backing up with legal statements the fact that ‘advocacy is not a crime’. Claimants visiting the job centre took our advice enthusiastically, and were generally pleased that someone was taking a stand against the Department for Work and Pensions, and the bullying regime inside job centres. Our social networking presence also got a number of likes and follows during the picket.

In fact, the response was so positive that we will soon begin a regular series of job centre info distribution pickets, offering advice, encouragement and solidarity to claimants – who represent some of the most vulnerable elements of the working class.

Liverpool IWW Condemns Police Use of Dispersal Notices Against Activists

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The Dispersal Notice this Saturday

Liverpool IWW condemns Merseyside Police’s use of Dispersal Notices to control activists in Liverpool city centre.

Merseyside Police used this legislation against activists for the first time on Saturday 22nd November. People taking action with the Liverpool Rise For Palestine group were presented with a Dispersal Notice during their weekly protest against shops linked to support for the government and economy of Israel. This itself followed heavy repression of an anti-fur trade demonstration in the city the previous Saturday, when three protesters were arrested outside Harvey Nichols, and released on bail conditions banning them from the town centre.

This Saturday (29th), the activists who had gathered in Liverpool city centre were not actually intending to protest anything. In fact, they were deciding where to go for a drink when police officers came over to ask about their plans. When no real answer was given, the activists were given the Dispersal Notices, which banned them from large areas of the city centre until 6pm.

This developing pattern suggests that police are working with businesses in the area to suppress political expression during peak shopping times in the run-up to Christmas. While this is completely unacceptable in of itself, it also sets an extremely worrying precedent. Will Merseyside Police – and other forces around the country – use such a pretext into the new year? Undoubtedly they will try to.

Under the terms of the 2014 Anti-social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act, police are authorised to exclude a person or a group of people from a particular area for a period of up to 48 hours. They can only do this if “satisfied on reasonable grounds that the use of those powers in the locality during that period may be necessary for the purpose of removing or reducing the likelihood of (a) members of the public in the locality being harassed, alarmed or distressed, or (b) the occurrence in the locality of crime or disorder.”

As people commented on Saturday, this legislation appears to mean that cops can trample on democratic rights at will, since they are not required to present any proof that harassment or crime is intended. One officer farcically commented that activists may have “polystyrene balls”, and these “may cause distress”. However, when invited to search for these mysterious balls, he declined.

So essentially, the say-so of a cop “of at least the rank of inspector” is all that’s needed for this clampdown to be legal. However, the legislation also declares that police officers “must have particular regard to the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly” set out in articles 10 and 11 of the Human Rights Act 1998. On the previous Saturday, it is clear that freedom of expression was trampled. This Saturday, it was freedom of assembly’s turn.

We therefore believe that the officer “of at least the rank of inspector” who issued the Dispersal Notice themselves broke the law. In fact, it appears Merseyside Police saw the 2014 Act as merely the best cover for their real agenda – protecting and serving the rich and powerful.

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The people of Liverpool standing up for democratic rights in 2008

This level of police repression of Liverpool activists has arguably not been seen since the ‘capital of culture’ days of 2007/08, when increasingly regular state harassment of campaigners saw a broad umbrella group come together to oppose the police. On 11th October 2008, designated ‘Freedom Not Fear day’, ten different organisations held stalls on Church Street. Police tried to seize literature and people, but the general public became enraged, and blocked their vans for over an hour. Stunned by this, Merseyside Police had adopted a much more ‘hands off’ approach until recently.

Though Liverpool IWW are yet to experience any repression of our new group’s activities, we hope a diverse group of activists will once again stand up to the state’s attacks. The only freedom we have is the freedom we struggle to win and defend! An injury to one is an injury to all!