Monthly Archives: January 2008

4WardEver. A site for Mikey Powell and others who have died in custody

From Tippa Naphtali
Stand Up For Your Rights

4WardEver UK was developed as an off-shoot of The Mikey Powell Campaign for Justice. The Friends of Mikey Powell Campaign for Justice was established by the family of Michael Lloyd Powell (known as Mikey), a cousin of the renowned poet and writer, Benjamin Zephaniah, following his death whilst in Police custody. Mikey was 38 years old and a father of three young children.
4WardEver exists to provide information and resources on families that have lost loved ones and suffered injustice, and supports the call for reform within police, penal and mental health institutions in the UK and internationally.
In a very short time after Mikey Powell’s death, his family met with other affected families who, like them, had no voice on the worldwide web; and what began as a basic website focussed on Mikey’s case gradually developed into something much more comprehensive. The site developed to have a broader focus than its original theme, and it was decided that a new site would branch off independently, and be called 4WardEver.
The website has now become a widely used reference and information resource for many families, their friends, supporters and campaign groups. 4WardEver also provides other online resources, is involved in the organisation and participation of events for justice, and direct support of families through a West Midlands based sister organisation, the Family Advisory Support Trust; and a free website development service for affected families and friends called The Family Web Pages Collective.
Why we feel passionately about custody deaths:

Between 1969 and 1999 over one thousand people died in police custody alone, not counting deaths in prison and psychiatric institutions. No one has ever been convicted for any of these deaths.
In October 2004 the then Home Office Minister, Hazel Blears commenting on a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) report noting a reduction in such deaths said, “There was an encouraging reduction in the number of deaths of people from minority ethnic communities from 22 in 2002/03 to 10 in 2003/04.
She went on to say; “The PCA report found that while there are grounds for concern about some aspects surrounding the general treatment of detainees, there is little evidence that this concern can be attributed to racist attitudes or behaviour.”
These words however, were of little comfort to the dozens of families who have lost relatives in these circumstances.

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The death of a woman prisoner. Yes, it’s Styal again

Announcement from Pauline Campbell.

Lisa Marley, aged 32,
died on 23 January 2008, while in the care of Styal Prison, Cheshire
Demonstration will take place on Tuesday 5 February 2008
at 1.30 pm, for the duration of the afternoon,
outside HMP & YOI Styal, Styal Road, Styal, Nr Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 4HR
Banners will be displayed, and flowers laid in memory of Lisa
All are welcome to attend, including reporters/photographers
Lisa Marley is the first woman to die in prison in 2008.
Ms Marley, a mother, was being held on remand at Styal Prison when she died.
The demonstration will be led by Pauline Campbell, mother of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, 18, who died in the so-called care of Styal Prison and Young Offender Institution (YOI) on 18 January 2003.
The protest on Tuesday 5 February 2008 will be the 28th demonstration to be held outside women’s prisons in England since protests began in April 2004.
To date, Pauline Campbell has been arrested 14 times, and has stood criminal trial just once [26.09.07] when the judge threw the case out of court. More.
Figures refer to apparently self-inflicted deaths, England and Wales. (There are no women’s prisons in Wales.)

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Israeli support for Palestinians

One would have thought residents of Sderot and the surrounding area would be in full support of the Israeli government and Ehud Olmert. Apparently not as the following articles from Jewish Voice for Peace indicate. In Hebron too there is a former Israeli soldier conducting a tour pointing out the suffering of Palestinians at Israels hands. It’s the distant lobby of those living overseas who have no actual connection with Israel, but who are affected by sentiment and the all powerful Zionist lobby which support Israeli government policy, a lobby against which no presidential candidate dare utter a sound. Among American leaders ex President Jimmy Carter alone raises a voice.

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Anti-Labour legislation

The following piece from the Socialist Labour Party made its point forcefully! I want to share it:

In 1863, dockers from Liverpool and Manchester refused to unload bales of cotton produced by slave labour in the southern states of the USA. This resulted in a bitter strike which brought hardship to the dockers and the workers in the cotton towns of Lancashire.
The sacrifice of the British workers helped the northern states of the US in the civil war. A monument carrying an address by Abraham Lincoln was erected near Manchester town hall to commemorate the strike.
But what relevance has this chapter of British labour history got for today?
Well, 150 years later, under a Labour government, the strikers would be thrown in jail, their union’s funds seized and the southern slave states allowed to pursue compensation for restraint of trade!
This leads us to the need to repeal all anti-trade union laws and, as one step in that struggle, secure a safe passage into legislation of the Trade Union Freedom Bill.
Despite wide support across the labour movement, the Bill continues to be talked out by New Labour apparatchiks.
Our forefathers stood up to the employers and government of the day to help free slaves, we haven’t even got that right.
Stand up against the anti-trade union laws and let’s win back the right to fight.


Coming soon to a school near (very) you

I went to a governors’ presentation on what we, unpaid long-suffering volunteers, will have to do to work out pay for staff following the introduction of single status for school staff.
Don’t get me wrong I take on the role of governor because I want to ensure kids get the best education we can give them, particularly those who are struggling because of unfavorable home circumstances.
What I don’t like is being set up. Single Status has a serious purpose in bringing poorly paid women in line with everyone else. It has been in the pipeline for a rather long time, principally because it was realised that it was going to be bloody expensive to do what was intended. That is pay a living wage and backdate it to April 2007.
I lost confidence in the presentation when a head teacher announced that he had already been to a head’s presentation and what they told him them was quite different.

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Is Capita getting paid on time?

I am just one of a long list of people “waiting patiently” for payment for services rendered unto the City Council. Since the payments will either prevent accounts going into the red or interest will be lost (or both). I wrote an e-mail to Stephen Hughes, Birmingham’s Chief Executive, copied to Mike Whitby, Leader of the Council. I pointed out that if it was me owing the Council money there would be little leeway before action was taken to recover the debt:
Dear Stephen Hughes, I have not received even an acknowledgment to my e-mail which I am re-sending. I look forward to a response. I am continuing to lose interest on outstanding payment.
Yours sincerely,

John Tyrrell
—– Forwarded message from john.tyrrell —–
Date: Wed, 09 Jan 2008 11:33:20 +0000
From: john.tyrrell
Subject: Payment to contractors
Dear Stephen Hughes,
I wrote to you in December about non-payment to contractors. I made the point
that if citizens failed to pay their accounts with the City Council action would quickly follow.
Non payment to contractors means loss of interest and bank balances being overdrawn. Will these costs be re-imbursed? In my case it backdates to October and November.
The Council knows full well that the introduction of new systems can lead to disruption and should take this into account. It certainly isn’t the fault of contractors who do their best to supply a quality service.
Yours sincerely,

John Tyrrell
This was the reply I received:
Dear Mr Tyrrell
Further to my email sent earlier today, I have now been advised of the following by my Interim Head of Shared Services Centre –
The settling in of our new system is taking a little longer than anticipated and I am sorry this is causing delays in getting invoices paid. Certainly as a City Council, we do fully recognise the importance and value of the service provided by contractors such as yourself and we are extremely grateful for the patience displayed during this stabilisation period.
A great deal of consideration and contingency measures went into the planning, design and construction of our new system and our prime concern was to keep disruption to an absolute minimum. Whilst this has been achieved to some extent, clearly we have fallen slightly short in some areas because of the complexities involved.
So far as loss of interest is concerned, I am sure you are aware of the Late Payment of Commercial Debt Regulations and the City Council would consider any claim under that legislation. Hopefully, however, we would be able avoid that and fast track payment of invoices in cases that are notified as particularly urgent.
Once again, I do apologise for these delays and I can assure you that everyone is working flat out to settle in the new system and revert to business as usual as a matter of urgency.
Yours sincerely

Stephen Hughes
Chief Executive
Birmingham City Council
Adrian Goldberg has been doing a bit of digging for his Stirrer column and found a lot of unhappy folk out there. No guys don’t fret, don’t you know what a privilege it is to be one of the chosen to serve the Council?

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Birmingham UK show solidarity with Gaza

A group gathered together near the Bullring in Birmingham yesterday (23.1.2007) to show their solidarity with the people of Gaza. Passers by took leaflets and candles were lit to remind us that lights have gone out in Gaza because of the inhumane blockade by the Israeli government.
There are further rallies being held across the globe, including London and again in Birmingham on Saturday, 26th January.

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Waiting to die in Gaza

It appears there is nothing in the way of the Israeli government doing just as it pleases so that the seriously injured in Gaza cannot be saved if emergency power fails. The population is being punished. They are punished because they upheld their democratic right and voted for a group which displeased the Israeli government, the US government, the British government all of whom yell and bawl “democracy”. They keep preaching, but not practicing, as they parade their religiosity and maintain their “holiness”.
Al Jazeera reports that Israel has allowed relief supplies as “a temporary measure” but how far this will be effective for the poor and the sick remains to be seen. PNN reports the death of five people due to the cuts to supplies.

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Saving Iraq

Tony Blair embarked on Mission Impossible having been advised of the likely outcome. There was little planning or forethought and so the inevitable happened.
It seems incredible that those who cry democracy loudest practice it the least. Although we pride ourselves living in a democracy the whim of the elected leader can carry the decision based on the particular views, prejudices, whims of a single person. This has happened repeatedly in Britain’s history not least over Palestine where both Jews and Palestinians blame the British for todays chaos. Many decisions were made on the basis of belief based on sentiment and religious upbringing so that the Zionist cause had blind support.

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David Winkworth

My cousin, David Winkworth was well known in Cockermouth in Cumbria. He set up a printing press museum some thirty years ago in addition to the bookshop on the town’s Main Street. David passed away following an operation shortly after Christmas and Vron and I went to his funeral on 6th January.
We arrived at the parish church midway through the first hymn having taken the wrong train from Birmingham New Street. We just hadn’t considered that two trains left at exactly the same time for Edinburgh, one along the east coast, one on the west. Somehow the Virgin train manager, Michelle, worked out how we might get there. Nothing from Tamworth which does connect up with Penrith, so back to Birmingham just in time for the Glasgow train. This bypassed Penrith stopping at Carlisle, so we had to catch the next rain back to Penrith which arrived barely in time for a bus to Cockermouth. No snow in Cockermouth, but in the surrounding areas it added to the beauty of the scene with the trees decorated with white filigree. It didn;t appear of much consequence until we heard later reports that Helvellyn was a no-go area with warnings of an avalanche, unusual for the district.

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