Colette Williams explains why she has declared her Candidature as the Respect Party candidate for the ward of Moss Side in the forthcoming local elections on 22nd May 2014.
Having organised conferences to discuss and highlight how the cuts are disproportionately impacting on the community here in Manchester and particularly in Moss Side, marched and rallied over cuts and impending privatisation of our NHS, campaigned against the Moss Side Carnival being moved out of the community to Fallowfield, having been on demonstrations over the loss of EMA and the rise of student tuition fees bringing attention to how this impacts on our young people, having stood up against the English Defence League by taking part in counter demonstrations, marched and organised in Moss Side to raise a collective voice against the bedroom tax, organised meetings on Deaths In Police Custody & racism, collected 100′s of signatures for petitions, supported local individuals who have been harassed and discriminated against by the police, helped and supported individuals over issues of housing and problems with the threat of exclusion from school, marched and protested against the cuts to local services, youth clubs and much needed children services, actively supported as many organisations as possible, developed and created training programmes and jobs for those that were finding it extra difficult to get into work due to the fact they were in long term unemployment or that they had criminal records as getting them into jobs would reduce the risk of reoffending, developed and managed informative historical and artistic programmes, delivering a programme about the involvement of African and Caribbeans in the First World War, been a volunteer Presenter on Peace FM 90.1, raised money for the sickle cell charity, African Caribbean Mental Health Services and McMillan Cancer Research charities, I have immensely enjoyed serving my local community.
I firmly believe I could do much more as your local councillor as I have a passion for service and seeing Moss Side develop and thrive.
I therefore declare my Candidature as the Respect Party candidate for the ward of Moss Side in the forthcoming local elections on 22nd May 2014.
Respect is an acronym of Respect, Equality, Socialism, Peace, Environmentalism, Community and Trade Unionism.
We are a British left-wing party committed to standing in defence of the values of Peace, Justice & Equality. While inequality may never be eradicated, the direction of travel must always be towards equality. We need to make people realise that the more they get out of life, the more they should be expected to put back in.
Respect is in favour of a balanced and fair immigration policy. We are in favour of an EU Referendum, in which we would campaign to remain a part of Europe. Until then, we wholeheartedly welcome all EU migrants who seek to work hard in Britain, just as many British people work abroad.
Respect is in favour of a colour-blind points-based immigration system which is weighted in favour of those coming from Commonwealth countries to which we owe a historic debt.
In Britain, a land where poverty and social problems sweep the country, it is not sufficient that people have to accept a minimum wage. In times of high unemployment, a labour force which is not united will inevitably slide into a race to the bottom. It is too easy for companies taking on people who are desperate to work to pay them the minimum amount.
We support a policy of progressive taxation, not least because providing economic relief for those in most need of it will benefit our economy in the long run. Our workers need the basic dignity of a living wage; not just the minimum but something which assures the basic living requirements of everyone in our community.
Moss Side has come a long way from the 1980’s and 90’s of riots and gang related gun crime deaths of many of our young people.
The hard work of local people individually and in groups to work with youths, parents and the police has made for great improvements and crime reduction to the extent where there is less crime in Moss Side than areas like Didsbury according to official statistics.
The police’s role is vital which depends on good community relations so it is important to challenge the minority of officers who would undermine that relationship by their inappropriate use of stop and search.
Moss Side has benefitted from capital investment from central government which has led to considerable renovation of existing housing stock, such as local terrace housing and the Alexandra Park Estate.
A large site on Great Western Street has been developed by Moss Care Housing Ltd. The former Manchester City Maine Road site has been redeveloped. The Bowes Street area, adjoining Princess Road, has been redeveloped, at the cost of £17 million, including the renovation or transformation, with some new build, of 155 properties in five streets with the aim of Moss Side being the “neighbourhood of choice”
Land adjacent to the development, formerly occupied by Bilsborrow primary school and the Stage Coach bus depot, both demolished as part of regeneration, remains vacant with no clear future use at present, though local community groups have short term plans to utilize the space for a gardening/food growing project.
The hard work of residents’ groups and other organisations together with regeneration and redevelopment is changing perceptions of the area. The universities also add further diversity together with migrants from across the globe.
The work has been going on for a number of years, and new resident groups are forming all the time. There is a real community spirit and a campaigning ethos from as far back as PRAM (Princess Road Action Movement) which at the end of the 1970s ran a magnificent campaign to prevent the building of a motorway through Moss Side.
It is a good neighbourly multicultural community but the development of the area has been mainly due to capital funding from the central government which has now been withdrawn in Manchester, just as things were starting to look up.
In campaigning against the cuts in services in the area it is clear the way forward will not be a reversal of these cuts although I will fight to have the financial resources restored. In my experience our greatest resource is the energy of local people. But it can be more effective if we have councillors who are in touch with the new dynamics of the area and are willing and energetic to give support and leadership.
It is my pledge to give that support to local people to achieve their individual and collective objectives. There needs to be a strong determined voice coming from elected councillors in Moss Side as to how social economic regeneration and access to services needs to be a priority. This will prevent the risk of a return to the neglect in the past which caused so many social problems.
The current councillors seem to be silent on most issues. This was particularly evident on the recent issue of the Moss Side carnival being threatened to be kept in Platt Field permanently. This would result in the loss of a much valued long established cultural asset for Moss Side that builds community spirit.
Cultural industry activities with the carnival can create local employment and encourage creative people to access local networks. It also provides trading opportunities to some of the most marginalised in our community. The current councillors of Moss Side are resigned to the out of touch assertion that the Carnival should be moved from the ward of Moss Side where it has taken place for over 42 years. The councillors have been silent on this issue along with many other issues for far too long therefore it is my pledge to be that voice for the people and community of Moss Side in order to ensure that access to services, jobs and opportunities are secured, developed and remain in Moss Side.
By Colette Williams