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‘One Barnet’ Council meeting occupied (video), UK Uncut Starbucks Barnet action this Saturday

 
  • Residents to turn Starbucks Barnet into a refuge from the cuts – a library and crèche -  as part of UK Uncut’s national day of action against corporate tax avoidance this Saturday

  • Follows Occupy London supporters, Barnet residents and Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) taking over Barnet Council Cabinet last night in protest at council’s decision to approve an outsourcing contract to Capita, another tax avoider, which will see around 70% of council services undemocratically outsourced in the Borough, resulting in higher costs and falling standards 

 

Saturday 8 December, Barnet residents, anti-cuts campaigners and Occupy London supporters will transform a Starbucks in Barnet into a library and crèche to highlight the impact of cuts upon women’s services, as part of UK Uncut’s national day of action, which sees more than 35 actions across the UK. [1] Meet 11.30am at Friern Barnet Library, wrap up warm and bring a charged up Oyster card!

Barnet for sale: residents say no derailing Council meeting, occupying Friern Barnet Library

The news follows Occupy London supporters, Barnet residents and Barnet Alliance for Public Services (BAPS) taking over a Barnet Council Cabinet meeting last night (6 December) in protest at the council’s decision to approve an outsourcing contract to Capita – another tax avoider – worth at least £320 million, as part of the so called ‘One Barnet’ programme. [2] [3] Seen as the billion pound Barnet gamble, this privatisation programme is viewed as privileging corporate commercial interests above the well being of the communities of Barnet, leaving a deficit of democracy in the Borough, introducing unaccountable private service providers, delivering lower standards of service whilst sacrificing quality for private profit. and a complete disregard for accountability, whilst costing more. [4]

Interrupting the meeting last night residents ‘mic checked’ a statement condemning the council’s failure to represent their views. Having successfully derailed the meeting intended to hand over Barnet’s service to Capita, the local residents decided to hold a peoples’ assembly in Hendon Town Hall debating demands, strategies and future actions, including news that Barnet resident, Maria Nash, has instructed lawyers to seek Judicial Review of the One Barnet Programme.

This latest action in Barnet, follows the loss of essential services already in the Borough, such as the Friern Barnet Library, closed due to ‘cuts’ by Barnet Council in April 2012. Occupied in September 2012 by local residents and Occupy London supporters, as part of the campaign to force the Council to preserve the service, the reopened Library has enjoyed tremendous success, opening six days a week with more than 8,000 books donated and a jam-packed calendar of community events. [5] The UK Uncut action comes as the library occupiers prepare to face potential eviction from the Library, with a decision due to be handed down at Barnet Civil and Family Court Centre on 18 December. [6]

This Saturday – Starbucks Barnet

Coming just days after £10bn of new spending cuts were announced in the Chancellor’s autumn statement, and buoyed from their recent actions, Barnet residents and activists will take part in Saturday’s day of action targeting Starbucks as a result of its tax avoidance. [7]

Highlighting how the cuts to public services disproportionately impact women nationwide as well as as the particular circumstances in Barnet, this promises to be an exciting day to have coffee in Barnet, with all welcome, particularly families affected by the cuts in the Borough. Starbucks recently hit the headlines after a Reuters investigation disclosed that the company had paid no UK corporation tax in the last three years, despite reporting sales of £1.2bn. [8] The company was also reported to have filed accounts saying the company’s UK operations were making a loss, while reporting strong UK profits to investors.

Campaigners have highlighted research showing that women experience a disproportionate impact as a result of the government’s public spending cuts. [9] Women are bearing the brunt of cuts to public sector jobs, wages, housing benefit, childcare, and pensions. [10] Additional hardship on women is being caused by the government’s decision to cut £5.6m from violence against women services, £300m from Sure Start centres and a further £10 billion in benefit cuts. Every day 230 women are turned away from refuges as a result of the government’s cuts to women’s services. [11]

Local Barnet resident Frances is confused and upset by her Council and the Government. She said; “I am so angry right now. Public services like my local library are the centre of our communities. People come for toddler groups, for their studies, even to keep warm in the winter. The Friern Barnet Library occupation has highlighted the massive community support for Friern Barnet Library, and challenged not only its closure but the One Barnet programme and the privatisation of our public services in general. Come join us on Saturday and let’s make sure the tax avoiders know that enough is enough, and paying tax shouldn’t be an optional thing that corporations can do if they want, whereas real people and small business must do it.”

Notes to editors

[1] http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions/ / https://www.facebook.com/events/386379688109467

[2] http://occupynewsnetwork.co.uk/baps-action-press-release/; video of Council meeting being disrupted: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0qFEuL4mVI&feature=youtu.be

[3] http://www.ethicalconsumer.org/linkclick.aspx?fileticket=X2oXolNsBiw%3D&tabid=1882

[4] http://barnetalliance.org/

[5] The occupiers entered the library building at the beginning of September this year following the closure of the library by Barnet Council in April 2012. The group of local residents and Occupy activists have ensured that it continues to serve the community, which in turn has shown its support by donating over 8000 books, as well as providing volunteers and continuing to use the library, which has become a thriving centre for the Friern Barnet Community again.http://fbpeopleslibrary.co.uk

[6] Barnet Civil and Family Courts Centre. St Marys Court, Regents Park Road, Finchley Central, London N3 1BQ

[7] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/george-osbornes-raid-on-middle-class-400000-forced-on-to-40p-income-tax-rate-8386957.html

[8] http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/15/us-britain-starbucks-tax-idUSBRE89E0EX20121015 [9] http://www.tuc.org.uk/extras/Gender_Impact_of_the_Cuts.pdf& http://fawcettsociety.org.uk/documents /The%20Impact%20of%20Austerity%20on%20Women%20-%2019th%20March%202012.pdf

[10] http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/10/31/domestic-violence-rape-crisis-cuts_n_2049137.html

[11] http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/care/charities-have-to-turn-away-women-seeking-refuge/6520815.article & http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/index.asp?PageID=1237

 
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