progress is not the elimination of struggle, but rather a change in its terms’ - Aneurin Bevan

99% Local

In Darlington in the last few months there have been a number of interesting initiatives in response to / relevant to "the political economy of austerity":

+ Darlington Football Club is to become a Community Interest Company after a nail-biting last-minute rescue bid prevented last rites being read by the administrator. Darlington's Labour MP Jenny Chapman deserves credit for championing of the idea that the Supporters' Trust and local business people to keep the club up and running. The hard work now begins, but as an example for other institutions in the town which face closure, this is attempt to have a community-based club offers hope. Which we need a lot of these days. Thankfully, the first tranche of shares issued have been quickly snapped up by supporters - a total of £250,000 being raised to keep the club going.

+ Humantics, a Community Interest Company which runs the Forum music venue in the town has tried to access public funds which are supposedly there to support the "big society" under the Tory-Liberal coalition, but been knocked back in one instance because it is a CIC and not a registered charity. Which, I suppose goes against the spirit of encouraging local community action - and seeing social enterprise as a verb rather than a noun. But it does show the extent to which public funding - and that means PUBLIC SPENDING is vital to the success of the community and voluntary sector.

+ Friends of Cockerton Library is a group which has been set up to prevent the closure of the village library, which is something of a community hub and is greatly valued by local residents, especially children. Their petition on the Darlington Borough Council website has drawn a significant number of signatures. The library is to remain open but with reduced hours - a tribute to the work of the Friends group. Let's hope they can build on their activities so far - which have included an event for the national day for libaries, linking the threat of closure here to other towns and cities in which library provision is under threat because of government cuts.

+ Darlington for Culture, a co-operative that was established last year to secure the future for the Arts Centre and cultural services in the borough, has expressed concern about closure plans. Cuts to the council's funding by central government led to the decision to reduce the subsidy for the Arts Centre, and Darlington for Culture took over the running of the centre for two nights a week. Now, the council plans to sell the building and use the proceeds to work towards the construction of a new Arts Centre. There have been two protests in support of the Arts Centre remaining open, both well attended and musical - timed to coincide with council meetings at which the future of arts funding was being decided.

+ Occupy Darlington, an affinity group calling for financial reform, held a few "free stalls" before Christmas. They were a stunt to raise awareness of the role of the banks in determining economic activity, and involved goods being given away to Christmas shoppers - along with "Darlos" a potential local currency. The Northern Echo covered these demonstrations - with photos and interviews with participants. Members of Occupy Darlington are holding a discussion on "Where's all the money gone?" in the garden bar of the Arts Centre on the evening of Monday 19th March - since the austerity measures (government cuts & private sector shrinkage, in other words) are linked to the financial crisis (the banking system), it's important that the 99% get to discuss the Marvin Gaye question "what's going on?" and then the Lenin question "what is to be done?".

No comments:

Post a Comment