Dorset Bookfair Collective statement on Portfield Community Hall

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The idea of a Dorset Bookfair has been around for a couple of years, waiting for a suitable venue. When we came across Portfield Community Hall in the historic town of Christchurch, it seemed to offer everything we needed at a price we could afford. Being able to hold the afterparty there was a bonus.

The day was a great success; we caught up with many old friends and made new ones, Dog Section Press summed up the mood:

“Just want to say an enormous thank you to everyone at the Dorset Radical Bookfair Collective for putting on such a great event!

It was only the first one but it felt like it had been going for years, because the sense of solidarity was palpable. Really hope you do another one next year – we’d definitely come again!”

We got so much positive feedback we immediately sought to book a date at the same venue, with a programme of events in the meantime, from film shows and discussions to self-defence workshops. We had £100 deposit on breakages, and since there were none, expected it returned within a few working days.

The management were quite elusive; when we eventually got through they refused to accept our booking citing vague complaints of noise and “criminal damage” from neighbours. We wanted the details so we could conduct our own investigation – most attendees are either personally known to the collective or part of our extended networks.

At first there was the utterly preposterous allegation that police had been called (don’t you think we would have noticed?) We had people on the door and all around the site to protect our equipment in case the fash put in an appearance. To date, neither the hirer nor licensee has been troubled by the cops.

Even more risibly it was suggested that they had interviewed residents regarding damage to these silly electioneering placards middle class people put in their gardens! – Keep in mind that Dorset police lack the resources to conduct doorstep enquiries on arson and burglary these days, after more probing, we got this:

” For your information the crime number was 55170083198

You weren’t contacted as it was felt, although the people concerned exited the building, your responsibility was to the hall, and not to peoples actions in the street, also you state it was serious, all I said was criminal damage, no one was injured and the hall paid for the damage caused. It was almost certain alcohol related and it was felt it was better for everyone if it was put down to experience and we learn from it. Hence the decision that this particular event cant be booked again past 8pm, and we are reviewing our terms and conditions. As a police response this has been logged so may in the future effect any TENS licences applications that are made.”

– Beth Richards (Our italics)

The number quoted is what police call an ‘occurrence number’, there is nothing to suggest it was logged as a crime. It gets better:

“This was the chairman decision in the first place and he was one of the local households affected on the night. I am not going to go into details of who has complained as the complaints were made to the hall, and I don’t feel this is right to pass on, but 4 complaints came in about the noise in the street.”

The Chairman is councillor Trevor Watts (Flight Refuelling trading as Cobham Mission Systems), 197 Fairmile rd, BH23 2LF. Apart from Beth Richards, the other trustees are councillor Tavis Fox (J.P. Morgan Chase) 78 Portfield Road BH23 2AQ, and Councillor Susan Spittle (unemployed) 82 Hurn Road, BH23 2RP. Cllr David Fox has been deceased since 2014, so he’s in the clear.

Giving the others the benefit of the doubt, click on this to see how far google maps says Chairman Watts house is from the hall, just under a kilometer. How the hell was his household affected on the night? Unless it was the bollocking he got from his crippled post-election Tory party for hosting a gathering of lefties, anarchists, punks and skinheads on his manor. As it goes, we had anticipated this issue; a member of Wessex Solidarity takes up the story:

“You might like to know we had been monitoring the condition of the many political placards in the area for a week or so prior to the bookfair, and consensus was that they would not be touched. It is a tribute to the extraordinary level of goodwill and trust the local group has built up with our movement that this was rigidly adhered to, regardless of alcohol consumption. In particular the one in Tavis Fox’s garden at 78 Portfield road was still intact on Monday morning. The one up by Mr Watts’ place had been got at weeks earlier (not by us).”

Most of us are indifferent to party politics, but if, in our cups, we’d wanted to vent some class anger, there’s a Bentley just round the corner in Addiscombe road. Had there been damage to one of those signs, they remain the property of the party that issues them, and have no sale value, especially with an election only 4 days away. Has this charitable trust then made a donation to the Tory party, at the instigation of Cllr Watts, or was the money simply pocketed?

Now to allegations relating to the terms of hire, Beth Richards again:

“The complaints involved people being in the garden till late, There were certainly alot (sic) of people still in the garden area till 10pm, terms and conditions state the garden must be vacated by 8pm or dusk which ever is earlier. They also complained that there was alot of people making noise in the front car park and street till at least 12.30pm. There were definitely still alot of people around then and the final people didn’t leave the hall till 1pm, an hour after your booking finished so again I cant really argue with this one.”

That is a bare-faced lie. The garden was vacated at 8pm, the Angry Workers group voluntarily undertook litter picking and at 8:10 a member of our collective witnessed the garden was immaculate and the gate had been closed, it remained closed until we left.

“We can confirm that reminded us personally at 7:45 to leave the garden, where we were sitting in a group of ten from London. We tidied the garden – professionally, as at least three of us are working as cleaners and road sweepers – and left for the train station by 8pm…

Thanks for the great event”

– Some Angry Workers

“There are any number of witnesses to the fact that the garden was empty after 8 … I was there all day from 9 in the morning till midnight, the only activity then was cleaning of the work tops and oven in the kitchen area, which obviously had to wait until the bands had eaten and the barrels had been drained and carried out.

Your fridge was a disgrace, by the way.”

– Branch Secretary: Industrial Workers of the World, Dorset General Members’ Branch.

Everything was cleaned and put away; linen was taken away and laundered. The following day we visited to fine-pick in daylight and found nothing. The site was left in better condition than we found it, especially the fridge, a bio-hazard that had to be thoroughly decontaminated before we could put our food in it.

So what have we got? A malicious e-mail to the cops, and four in-house complaints made by people who evidently didn’t witness the proceedings, resulting in ex-gratia payment to a crony, or cronies.

“Thank you to everyone involved in organising this event. We had a really good day, met with interesting people, heard fascinating talks, I even bought a book! You can count us in if you do it again next year.”

– Dorset people’s assembly

“That may be our new favourite radical bookfair! Had a great day. If anyone didn’t manage to get everything they wanted on our stall we put it all for FREE on our website. Available to download as PDF and Mobi/Epub for your kindle or other e-reader.”

https://afed.org.uk/publications/pamphlets/

– Bristol Anarchist Federation

As for the deposit, after a full calendar month of contradictory and implausible excuses, with much badgering by us and our friends, it was returned.

Sadly we can’t recommend Portfield hall, and if you’re up on the balcony, watch the handrail, it’s rotten as a pear. If someone goes over and breaks their neck, the police probably will attend.

We’ll be back!

Déjà lu: Who are Academics For?

If I were you I’d just read the blog

architectsforsocialhousing

On the weekend of 10-11 June ASH attended the Housing Justice conference being held as part of the ‘Small is Beautiful’ festival in Wales, and for something to read we took Anna Minton’s new book, Big Capital: Who is London For?a copy of which, signed by the author and sent to ASH, had arrived earlier that week.

Reading it, however – and particularly the third chapter on ‘Demolitions’ – was a strange experience, like reading a summary of just about everything ASH has written about and published on our blog over the past two years. That’s not surprising, as we met Anna in 2015, and she and Paul Watt had invited us to publish our October 2015 blog article ‘The London Clearances’ in the special feature of City they were editing on housing activism. I remember Anna had been generous in her appraisal, arguing that this text, which was…

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Radical workers’ bloc at Tolpuddle 2017.

All good clean fun!

Wessex Solidarity

Not a lot to report this year, except a fine weekend catching up with friends – and a big shout out to Les once again for the Wob kitchen.

On Saturday there was a short discussion to mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, which Leninist-apologists continue to identify with the Bolshevik power-grab and its agonising consequences, rather than the bold experiments in workers’ self-management that flourished briefly between February and October 1917. These were part of a revolutionary current that developed spontaneously on every continent in the early years of the last century. It had no need of party games or secretive professional revolutionaries. Your first idea is usually the best one but people have an unfortunate tendency to identify with leaders, especially ones that seem to have come out of nowhere (but have actually been peddling the same ideas for years). Just as they grasp the need to…

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Kontakta album demo

A while back we recorded some tracks down at our rehearsal studio, Planet Sounds. One track is not being released as it’s due to go on an Antifascist benefit. The other usable tracks are now up for your ears on Bandcamp. It’s pay what you want if you want to download it, if you’d like a hard copy with lyrics drop us a line it’ll be about £2 plus postage…..Luke made the cover one lunchtime out of a copy of the S*n he found at work, he’s collaging at a year 3 level already!! Hope you like it anyway, here’s the link
https://kontakta.bandcamp.com

Bristol Anarchist Bookfair Saturday September 16th 2017

Wessex Solidarity

It’s 2017 and the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair Collective has new collective members, a new venue, a new date and some new ideas.

As well as all the usual exciting features of the bookfair such as the amazing range of radical literature and the networking opportunities, this year there is going to be a particular emphasis on workshops and discussions. For this reason we have had to change venue. We needed somewhere with good workshop spaces and while our previous venue has been almost perfect on other ways it doesn’t have this.

Our new venue is smaller and so stalls will be limited. Priority will be given to activist groups that organise using anarchist principles and we would ask that groups campaigning on similar issues consider sharing a stall. The number of book stalls will also be reduced although there will still be a huge range of books. As well as…

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From Solidarity Networks to Class Organisation in Times of Labour Hallucinations

Angry Workers of the World

BvQeXZ7CUAAjM5X.jpg

Dear sisters and brothers,

Some comrades from Frankfurt got in touch recently, wanting to set up a solidarity network. They approached us with some concrete questions. [1] We want to use the opportunity to reflect more generally on our limited experiences with our solidarity network initiative so far and about the political direction we want to take steps towards. We do this against the current background of post-election ‘Corbyn-mania’ and a surge in political activities focused on the Labour Party. The first part of this text briefly explains our opposition to the focus on electoral activities, whether that be through the Labour machinery or in the more post-modern form of ‘municipalism’ [2] – despite the fact that locally in our area, the election circus had less of an impact, given that most workers here are not allowed to vote anyway. And as an alternative to this electoral turn, the second…

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Political Women: Sandy Rose, Socialist, Feminist, Trade Unionist

lipstick socialist

In this occasional series I ask the question; why do some women become political activists?  Sandy Rose was part of the post war generation that lived at a time of great hope, this is her story………..

sandy

“I was born in 1945 and my parents were very conservative and narrow minded”. Sandy left school at 17  and then worked in a library for a year before going to university at 18.

In order to do a degree she had to  overcome both her parent’s objections and their refusal to make the parental contribution to her state grant. In order to support herself she worked in various jobs,  including  one at the London Zoo.

In 1967  Sandy went to the London School of Economics to do a postgraduate diploma in social administration.  LSE was then  a hotbed of radicalism,  and it was there that Sandy met her future husband, Brian Rose.  “He…

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Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe

You’ve been asking for it, here it is:

Ingredients

250g self raising flour
25g soya flour
3 tablespoons of cocoa powder
150g sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300ml soya milk
125ml sunflower oil
3 tablespoons golden syrup

Get a big bowl, and sieve the self raising flour, soya flour and cocoa powder. Pour the sugar on to the top. Don’t worry about mixing it at this stage.

In a jug dissolve the bicarb of soda in to the soyamilk. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl with the flour (don’t mix it yet) Then pour on the oil and the golden syrup.

Now slowly mix it all together. Mix it so it’s all combined etc, but without overmixing.

Split the mixture between two cake tins and cook in a preheated oven at 170 degrees for 25 minutes. (Fan assisted Ovens should lower the temperature to 160)


If you want to make ‘butter’ icing use 100g dairy free marg, 200g icing sugar, 1 table spoon cocoa powder.

Put the marg in a bowl and beat it until it goes really soft, then pour in the sugar and cocoa powder, and mix it in.