Minutes: General Meeting 01.03.2014

Saturday 1 March 2014 – Central United Reformed Church, Sheffield

Present: 23 supporters

Apologies: Stuart R, Maxine B, Gareth L, and Dan M.

1) Speaker: Mhari L – co-organiser of recent Atos demo in Sheffield on 19 February.

Mhari opened the meeting with a talk on the recent demo against Atos and its contract with the DWP to provide Work Capability Assessments (WCAs). She described how it was a part of a nationwide set of demonstrations co-ordinated mainly online. It was a success due to Atos giving notice that it now wants to exit early from its contract!

  • Another set of nationwide protests is to be organised for around early April.
  • Atos is withdrawing but we need to be on guard against future contracts.
  • A brief question and answer session followed.
  • Les W told the meeting that the government has proposed that people should be charged to appeal.
  • It was AGREED to launch a SYPA petition calling for the resignation of Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith. Matthew R to action.

2) Stand up to racism rally – Sat 22 March, London

Sam B promoted this important protest which will be UN Anti-racism Day.

Those wishing to go can book a place on a special coach from Sheffield (contact details on leaflet distributed at meeting).

3) Election of delegates to the People’s Assembly Against Austerity – National Recall Conference – Sat 15 March, London

We received 9 nominations for 10 delegate places (1 person withdrew late). All 9 were elected, names follow: Maxine B, Heather B, Leroy M, Matthew R, Dan M, Stuart R, Carrie H, Joe F and Sam B

There is still a spare place which we will try to fill.

It was agreed that a reasonable contribution to travel expenses would be made from SYPA funds for anybody unable to afford the total cost.

4) Next Soapbox: Sat 29 March 12-2pm, outside The Moor Market

  • AGREED to have a mixture of scheduled and non-scheduled speakers to attract attention of more shoppers (last time was an ‘open mic’). AGREED to have Auntie Austerity (Heather B), Shirley F (or another Benefit Justice speaker), Climate Change speaker (Margaret S to sort), Mhari L on DWP protests (Matthew R to ask), NUT speaker on 26 March strike action (Matthew R to arrange).
  • AGREED to purchase a new megaphone online.
  • Carrie H to ask Alice C if her street theatre group can perform.
  • Sam B to contact the Socialist Choir to see if they can perform too.
  • AGREED to have a stall with leaflets and sign-up sheet.
  • Laura P to be asked to arrange video vox pops (Matthew to liaise).
  • UCU will be asked to have a speaker (Deborah C to enquire).

5) Forms of Communication

Carrie H expressed her concern that communications were not being sent out in good time. This was acknowledged and would be improved upon.

6) Benefit Justice/Bedroom Tax campaign Day of Action – Sat 5 April

Shirley F and Paul P spoke of the need to re-energise campaigning against the Bedroom Tax and other government welfare reforms. Support for campaigning had faded in the city since a flurry of activity last year. The meeting AGREED a motion of support for continued activity (Appendix A) which includes a protest outside Sheffield Town Hall on Sat 5th April as part of a national day of action, 1 year after the imposition of the Bedroom Tax.

7) Any other business

The meeting endorsed a call for prominent speakers to speak at future General Meetings. Suggestions included Ricky Tomlinson and Danny Dorling.

Sam B to arrange a speaker on Economic Arguments for the Alternatives, separate to General Meetings.

Carrie H suggested a series of Assembly Alternative meetings.

AGREED to highlight disabled access for all SYPA meetings.

Forthcoming events:

Fri 7 March – Miners’ Strike Public Rally, 7pm at Sheffield Central Library Theatre.
Sat 8 March – Protest at Lib Dems Conference in York, organised by the TUC, 11am at Clifford’s Tower. Coach seats available from Sheffield (leaflet distributed).
Wed 19 March – National PA Budget Day protests.

Next Organising Committee meeting: Tues 18th March, Sheffield Hallam University, 6.30pm.

Next General Meeting: Sat 12th April, Central United Reformed Church, 12-2pm

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