My report on a demo at Tesco in Cardiff on Radical Wales.
Demo flyers in PDF – English and Welsh
Click on links BELOW pics to download.
Dear Gerald Toms (Millenium Stadium General Manager and former Chief Superintendent of South Wales Police and Commander of the Cardiff Division) and Roger Lewis (WRU Group Chief Executive, ex- Managing Director of ITV Wales, ex-Managing Director at EMI Records and ex-world wide President of the Decca Record Company),
Firstly, may I thank you for making some of us homeless yesterday for the sake of maintaining power over a building that you have shockingly neglected. The old Inland Revenue Building on Westgate St, Cardiff, which you ‘own’, was occupied with the intentions of turning it into a community and art space, as well as a much needed communal home for some of us that can no longer afford to heat our homes and barely feed ourselves. After researching both of your histories, I think I can safely assume that neither of you have ever wanted for anything.
The government’s outrageous austerity measures are hitting those not as privileged as you extremely hard. The cuts to vital community projects and support groups mean that many of them cannot continue unless they are offered free space to do so. You have that space, yet feel it is more important to exercise power than negotiate.
Attempts were made to locate the owners of the building before we entered it, but it seemingly doesn’t exist. We didn’t break and enter. We walked through an already open window. It was obvious when looking around inside that other people had been in there. There was already graffiti on the walls and half eaten food present.
As soon as you made yourselves known as the ‘owners’, we opened negotiations with you. We asked for a 6 month rolling contract with a two month mutual notice period. We said we would pay no rent as this was a not-for-profit project, but would cover utility bills and general maintenance. You said you’d get back to us, and you did. A couple of hours later, you sent your solicitor with a court hearing date scheduled for three days’ time. Then a court bailiff came by and told us that we’d probably have until between February and April as the courts were so busy. We were evicted with immediate affect yesterday. Two well used phrases come to mind:- ‘Money talks’ and ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.’ Both the law and the media have clearly been ‘on your side’ during our occupation, so I’ll add ‘We’re all in it together’ for good measure. The media have consistently lied and misquoted us. This was never intended just to be a media centre for the Occupy movement. It was just one tiny aspect of what our intentions were.
So why didn’t you negotiate? You could have added clauses etc. to a contract. You could have helped us stick it to Westminster and Cameron’s ‘Big Society’. You could have showed a side to the WRU that isn’t just about making money from rugby fans via over-inflated corporate prices, but instead is aware of its roots and gives a shit about its communities.
Welsh people have been suppressed by England’s powers forever. Now it seems that the WRU, instead of being community conscious, have joined the bully boys.
The old Inland Revenue building is beautiful, unused and falling apart from the top down (a bit like society, really). I can only hope that now we’ve highlighted this that you will put some effort into maintaining it rather than just using it as a base for the builders of your £multi-million projects in the future as it has been used in the past.
I can only hope that you consider what our intentions were, are taking time out to research how Welsh communities are affected by Westminster’s savage cuts, and that you will avoid turning the old Inland Revenue building into a luxury hotel or apartments and will put it to good, non-profit use.
(and any signatories in the comments)
My first article for Radical Wales! An inside view of The Great Tax invasion squat in Cardiff!
Or, at least, not if you’re breastfeeding!!
The Owain Glyndwr is on St. John St in Cardiff. A few of us have been meeting there fortnightly, or, more precisely, in the Tair Pleun which is attached to the Owain. In fact, we have a regular booking which, when around 40 members of Occupy Cardiff joined us on Monday 14th November, two days after they were brutally evicted from the lawns outside Cardiff Castle, our booking had disappeared.
After speaking with the bloke running the (very quiet) bar, he gave us the go ahead to use the Tair Pleun side to meet, but asked if I could move everyone over to one side so he could move some tables about. This was for access to the toilets for folks using the Owain as their regular toilets are upstairs, and they had a speed dating event going on. Fair enough.
Then I was asked to stop folks using the fire exit, to stop them standing or sitting in certain places and to make sure no-one consumed their own food and drink. As far as I saw it, their tills were ringing a lot hotter than usual for a Monday eve, though clearly not because of the speed dating. A couple of us were hassled to go upstairs as they only had six participants. I was definitely at a ‘chill out, you’re taking money and everything’s cool so let everyone get on with it’ point at that stage.
I spent most of my time in the Owain side for reasons I’ll probably go into in another blog, but wandered in now and again. On one such occasion, the bloke running the bar collared me again and asked if I could get people out with kids. Erm, ok, but their not actually in an open bar? I said I’d mention it, but it takes ages to pack kids up, right? 😉
So I shouted that folks with kids would have to leave. At this point, Neil McEvoy was already pumping his ego at the meeting. There were only one couple there with kids, and they were happily co-operative, but would need some time to gather stuff etc.
Then, and I am still struggling to believe that this shit still happens, the bloke running the bar said to me. . . .
‘Oh, and someone’s breastfeeding.’
It took me a minute to process this. Was this just an observation or was he having a go? Was it consuming your own food rules gawn mad? But then he added. . .
‘People are eating!’
Oh dear!! I tried to explain the law to him, but he kept coming out with little gems like ‘people are having to come through here for the toilets. They don’t want to see that’, so I lost my rag a bit. He was adamant that he was right, and he was clearly disgusted on a personal level. I asked to speak to the manager and he said he wasn’t there, so I asked for his number. He declined giving it to me.
I spoke to the lady who was breastfeeding. Understandably, she wasn’t over-impressed either!
He did come and find me a while later, and said ‘You were right about that thing, so I apologise.’ Well, thanks!
I didn’t see much of Neil McEvoy kicking off, though could hear him shouting. Then I heard that he’d been escorted off the premises. When I said to the bloke running the bar that he’d kicked out a councillor, he looked worried, but didn’t deny it. Seems he has since in the local press though!
McEvoy’s actions created a natural break in the proceedings, but as folks went to the bar, they were told they couldn’t buy alcohol. McEvoy did receive some abuse outside, including from me, but he wasn’t holding back with his insults, either!
Not long after the meeting resumed, two rather large bouncers told us that we had 15 minutes to get out. Nice that! I did argue the toss, pointing out that it was a political debate so would inevitably get heated at times, but nothing had, or was likely to be, broken.
I then had the same conversation with the bloke running the bar. . .and his manager! The manager who apparently wasn’t there, but, in fact, lived upstairs and was in all the time. I also brought up the breastfeeding issue with him. His attitude was that it was fine because the bloke running the bar had apologised after checking with him.
Train your fucking staff properly then!!
I am truly stunned that this level of ignorance still exists over something so natural!
So the EDL are making a calendar!!
They’re advertising the wish for us all to send our photos in to firstname.lastname@example.org but have stressed that they must be EDL related.
Reckon I may have saved them some time.
Got them all in HD if you want then, boys!!
These will be available from the RemEDL website for £57.38 unless you’re a bit of a member, which you will be if you want one of these.
Happy New Year!