Notes of meeting held on 18th April 2015 at the Forge, Camden.
Present: Eddie Farrell (chair), Janos Abel, Denise Arnold, Carol MacNichol, Alan Spence, Trevor Griffith (Rennaissance Britain), Mary Fee (note-taker). Apologies: Michael Mulvey (France).
Minutes of last meeting on 11th April 2015, were approved.
Mary reported that “www.democafe.uk” has been booked, which members agreed was a good name. Mary was concerned that members on the group need to make a commitment to managing the website. Eddie said he has three other websites to take care of, so was unsure how much time he has for it. Denise is willing to learn how to edit it, and would arrange to meet up with Mary.
Regarding the logo which Eddie had made through a combination of letterpress and screen printing; Mary had drafted a what she considered, a tidier version of the logo for legibility of the word DEMOCAFE and also what she suggested was a somewhat more aesthetic look. Group asked for opinions: Alan and Carol felt the original one had something closer to the gritty and somewhat haphazard way Democafe came together and operates. Mary suggested Michael Mulvey would possibly be happier with her tidied up version. Denise and Janos were happy with the original. Eddie was interested in the whole aesthetic conversation going on, as a lifelong hard-copy maker he liked how other criteria had entered into the equation from everyone’s access to computer graphic software. Mary was thanked for her work on the graphic.
Save the NHS Campaign:
Eddie had sent an email to 38 degrees attaching the flyer on saving the NHS that Mary had done based on Alan’s text, andwasdismayedwhenanautomatedresponsecameback. Marysaidthisdoesn’t necessarilymeantheyarenotgoingtorespond,butsofarnohumanreplyhadbeenreceived – NB Michael Mulvey had said we should accept that DemoCafe is doing something different.
However Alan would like to pursue them on how we can collaborate, and said he would try and get through to their director David Babbs and engage him on it, the idea being to encourage face to face meetings as well as petitions. Denise wondered if we should contact the Kentish Town 38degrees group and find out how that works on a local level.
Alan had reproduced brought two articles from the Camden New Journal, one celebrating Wendy Savage’s 80th birthday party, and the other by Professor Allyson Pollock “Only legislation can restore the NHS”, and would contact her.
As an example of privatisation in the Royal Free, Denise reported that M&S is now running the cafe? She asked the question that if Easyjet use to claim they earned very little from an airline seat and most of the income brought in was from people buying food, drink etc when travelling with them. Blood tests are also contracted out? Mary said that this is the way department stores run, with companies running different counters, so the NHS is using an existing commercial model.
Denise mentioned the case of a family with 4 small children she knows who are living in a Covent Garden council/ housing association flat. A property owner has bought the flat next door, he constantly complains about the noise they are making, knocking on their door at all hour to tell them he is officially complaining about them. Other officials are coming to the door to do the same and the family areso disorientated that they are now desperate to put in for a transfer, out of their central London home. Denise sees this account and another in Highgate she gives, as examples of harassment of council tenants by surrounding home owners in order to get rid of unsuitable families from inner city areas.
Eddie commented that James Corbett, of the excellent online The Corbett Report – is a good example of someone who encourages members of the public to do some serious research. Eddie reckons that rather than Denise’s comments just being something random in a Democafe meeting that perhaps we should take James Corbett’s advice and start to seriously compile such harassment stories into a research file to help people connect the dots. Denise suggests a Facebook page might be a good way of doing this. In one form or another, there is obviously a lot of it going on in and around London at present. Some of it quite brutal, so much so that gentrification could be seen these days as a form of ethnic cleansing.
(Picture of Flats being demolished for new ones at Manor House)
Janos reiterated that the fundamental problem about housing is the price of land, a centuries-old oppression of the many by the few, and quoted from Danny Dorling’s book “All that is Solid”, which says the peak time for equality was 1971-1974. Denise endorsed this, i.e. inequality has gradually increased since then, the value of property always going up.
NB of relevance here is Fred Harrison’s alternative take on Magna Carta, that it was the beginning of exploitation by the rich of the poor: http://www.sharetherents.org -see his presentation introducing his latest book “As Evil Does”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwU2CvR3mm8&feature=youtu.be
Janos went on to say that an expedition is being organised by Occupy London to Runnymede Village on 25th April in celebration of the Forest Charter, which he would like to attend, and will report back. Trevor was unclear what’s happening there, he said on TV it was the landlord trying to move them because it’s near the memorial, and an American contingent is coming to celebrate Magna Carta on 15th June.
Trevor reported that he is working on a book, the Decline and Fall of Social Housing. Carol talked about empty properties, and squatting groups occupying them. Trevor wondered if a dispensation could be given to charities who put people in the properties who won’t cause a social problem, and wondering if a dispensation could be given to organisations which are providing housing.
Eddie wondered why it was in some way easier to go and support a demonstration site rather than what is actually happening on our doorstep; back to gentrification/evictions again. Russell Brand’s work with the New Era Estate being a good example of support for a real life, rather than demonstration situation. Mary suggested that people turn up for a sense of community, and also out of homelessness.
Mary wondered why the model of co-operative housing has not propagated well, was it because people don’t trust each other enough? Carol mentioned that in the 1980s, she herself bought the Old Piano Factory in Kentish Town together with three friends, having formed a company to own the common land, but felt it wasn’t feasible any longer because of the price of land/ property. Eddie says everyone knows about speculation now, it’s on the TV as entertainment.
Denise mentioned that the best housing coop she knows about, was Rainbow Housing coop, a row of two dozen properties, owned by the Council in Milton Keynes, this was housing for young families, whereas such projects are often for the elderly: http://www.independent.co.uk/property/house-and- home/come-together-could-communal-living-be-the-solution-to-our-housing-crisis-6260020.html?action=gallery
Eddie asked Mary if she could write some notes about the kind of co-operative projects she had worked on (theoretically) with Chris Cook. Meanwhile Janos will try to draft an initial document on housing, as requested by Michael Mulvey.
• Eddie mentions, Kakistocracy – a form of government in which the worst people are in power.
• Denise mentions scepticism about Climate Change and would like to present on this at a future meeting.
• Mary mentioned a meeting of Camden LETS to be held at her place in Tufnell Park tomorrow from 2pm (social) for 4pm EGM, to elect a committee.
Eddie reported that Ray Sheath is interested to attend to see what we are doing as an example of the cafe society model that he wants to promote in relation to the 2015 Constitutionalists, but to invite him the week after next, as on 25th April DemoCafe will join the outing to Runnymede.
Lastly Eddie mentioned an invitation to all to take part in a Real General Election Headline Exhibition he and Danny Flynn are organising at G511ERY, Seven Sisters Road.
See invite pdf attached.