Just a reminder of some exciting things going off this week.
First: This Saturday is the Wortley Festival where we have a Freedom Rider stall. We have lots of leaflets, badges and t-shirts to use there. It is always a very impressive range of stalls – a great day out even without our stall! We shall be setting the stall up from mid morning but the event runs from 1pm to 5pm.
If you are using a bus the 23 leaves Barnsley at 12.55 and arrives Wortley 13.25
A return bus leaves Wortley 16.30 and arrives back about 17.00 – buses only run every two hours.
You will be more than welcome if you can join us.
Second: Tuesday 18th at 10.30am we are having a rally at Barnsley train station as part of the national protest at train fare rise announcements. A good chance to rally in Barnsley again so they don’t forget us!
Third: Thursday 20th at 11am Barnsley library the next Freedom Rider planning meeting.
The Freedom Riders will be protesting outside of Barnsley Town Hall, at the first full council meeting since the local elections, on Thursday 4th June from 9.30am to 10.30am. Please come and lend your support.
First off, we had another very successful Freedom Ride meeting in Barnsley library. It was decided that a group of us will go through to Sheffield this Saturday to join a demonstration against austerity and threatened Tory cuts. The demonstration starts at 12 in Devonshire Green (at far end of West Street). Some of us are catching the 11.14 train to Sheffield from Barnsley so you can meet at Barnsley station if you want (do allow time for queues at ticket office). Some people are going by bus. Do take note: anyone thinking of using the tram – it is not running into Sheffield from Meadowhall or from Sheffield train station.
We will have our banners on the demo in Sheffield. It is not a very long march, it is going to the Town Hall. We will also have leaflets to give out about our June 23rd demonstration at Sheffield station.
The meeting agreed to carry on with the lobby of Barnsley Council on Thursday June 4th from 9.30am to 10.30am. A number of people have agreed to contact their councillors to ask them for a new start from a new council. If you want details of how to contact your councillors then send back a reply to this email. The lobby will also be joined by the campaign against the Bedroom Tax and other groups fighting cuts.
The meeting also agreed to support the demonstration in London on Saturday June 20th, the People’s Assembly March against Austerity. 11 people put down to go on the coach which will be leaving Barnsley at 7.30am. It is a chance to put the Freedom Ride campaign on the map in London. If you would like to go email or phone/text me on 07985 028003.
Finally, 3 of us met the Managing Director of Stagecoach, Paul Lynch, to ask about the idea of them introducing a £1 flat fare outside of the 9.30am to 11pm time. He gave a number of reasons for not wanting to do that based on how he gets money from the PTE. We suggested a way that he could approach them and Tony is going to send a letter from the Freedom Riders arguing that Stagecoach’s ideas should be considered by the PTE.
Then Paul said that Stagecoach have decided to bring in a scheme that will allow the elderly with early medical appointments to travel free before 9.30am if they show their letter or appointment card. A trial scheme will be run for 6 months in Barnsley starting on June 15th. He wants to see how this trial works in Barnsley but anticipates extending it to the rest of South Yorkshire.
A further meeting has been arranged for Thursday 27th August to discuss how the trial has gone.
This is a good benefit for a number of the elderly who have early medical appointments. It is a long way short of what we want to return to but it shows that all the time we keep campaigning we keep winning a bit more.
Many thanks to all who turned up to our birthday party rally today. Well over 100 and lots of people sent their apologies for not being able to get along.Tosh McDonald, our old friend from train drivers’ union ASLEF, now National President, came along to bring us warm greetings and support again. 14 other speakers including from the Bakers Union and Unite Community spoke.
We had birthday cake which we enjoyed greatly.
Postcards supporting the campaign to take trains back into public ownership were distributed as well.
We had arranged to give some out at Barnsley train station tomorrow as well but I do not have any cards left so that will not go ahead.
We can be proud that our campaign can still turn out such large numbers. As we chanted “Northern Rail hear us say – Freedom Riders here to stay!”
There is no planning meeting this week because we could not get the room in the library. The next meeting will be Thursday April 16th at 11am Barnsley library.
We couldn’t have asked for worse weather! Snow, bitter cold and strong winds.But nothing deters the South Yorkshire Freedom Riders!60 from Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham and Sheffield took the bus to York where we were met by members of York Trades Council, pensioners from Leeds and Bradford.We went to Northern Rail Headquarters. They refused to come out to speak to us. They would not even open the door! But our shouts and chants made sure
they knew we were there and what we want.
Then we marched through York to have a snow blasted rally. We got lots of support from people walking by.
Speakers from York Trades Council, Yorks and Humberside National Pensioners Convention, York Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and the Green Party all offered support and best wishes.
This Thursday we should have thawed out and will be meeting at Barnsley Library at 11am to discuss how we mark out anniversary on March 31st. Please come along if you are able.
We had a very successful lobby of Transport Committee yesterday and then marched down to Barnsley interchange to show support for cleaners and other staff facing redundancy. We are asking the Transport Committee to use some of its £12.2 million reserves to return our concessions and to oppose these cuts.
Attached is photo of our protest with Dave leading the ‘clean up your act’ with his mop. Hopefully there will be a story and similar photo in Chronicle this week.
We have our next planning meeting this Thursday in Barnsley library at 11am.
Anyone who is able to turn up earlier might want to support a lobby of the council meeting at Town Hall. The campaign against Benefit Sanctions met last night and called a lobby of the council meeting from 9.30 to 10.30 am on Thursday to protest at council budget including the poorest in Barnsley being forced to pay higher council tax bills.
We are getting quite a list of names to go to York on March 2nd for protest at Northern Rail headquarters. If you want to join this protest email back or let us know at Thursday’s meeting.
We had a very large meeting again last Thursday to decide what we are doing this coming year. There was a very good discussion and the following activities have been arranged.
Monday 26th January 11am: meet at Barnsley train station. We will have a short rally there and then go round to Midland Street where Stagecoach have their offices. We are going to demand that they consider bringing in the same offer that TM Travel have introduced of a £1 fare between 9am and 9.30am and after 11pm.
Monday 2nd February 1pm: lobby outside Transport Committee on Regent Street Barnsley. Their minutes show that they have reserves of £12.2 million pounds. This is 15% of their previous year’s spending! We are going to demand that they ‘clean up’ their budget by spending some of this on returning our concessions. Bring a brush or a broom if you can to show we are there to help with the ‘cleaning up’ of the budget. Following the lobby we will go down to the interchange to use our brushes and brooms to clean up the interchange to protest at jobs being cut which will reduce cleaning among other things.
Thursday 5th February 11am: Next Freedom Ride planning meeting in Barnsley Library. We decided to hold meetings every two weeks so the next meeting after this will be 19th February.
Monday 2nd March: Protest outside Northern Rail headquarters in York. We are going to hire a coach to take people there. We hope to pick up Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster getting to York about 11.45am. If you want to take part in this protest then let me know so I can book a seat for you.We also discussed arranging Freedom Rides again in the near future. A number of new ideas were put forward about how to organise these. There will be more discussion about how to do this at the rally at Barnsley station on 26th January.
Other things happing: I have just been informed that Barnsley Council have decided to cut funding of the mobility shop between Alhambra and Holland and Barrett. This will have a devastating effect on many disabled and elderly people who use the mobility scooters to travel round town to do their shopping. It is an issue that we should take up. Any ideas welcome.
Thursday 22nd January: the Yorkshire and Humber National Pensioners Convention quarterly meeting is taking place at Hillsborough Arena. Some people at Thursday’s meeting said that they were interested in going. The meeting starts at 11am. We will have a chance to report on Freedom Riders but most of the meeting will be dealing with other items of concern to pensioners. If you are intending going let me know and I’ll pass on details of how to find the venue which is 3 minutes walk from the Hillsborough Park tram stop.
Thursday 29th January 2.30pm: Barnsley Retirees Action Group meeting Age UK offices bottom of Queens Road. We will be discussing how to fight back against other cuts being made to pensioners.
Tuesday March 31st: will be exactly one year since our first Freedom Ride. Do think about something exciting we can do to mark that anniversary.
A reminder that our next planning meeting is this Thursday 15th January 11am Barnsley Library.
The Passenger Transport Executive have begun the New Year with customary arrogance.
In spite of a brilliant Freedom Ride lobby of 40 outside their meeting last Monday and good arguments put forward by Tony they ignored all the evidence from our consultation last year.
It is true that they backed off from cutting our concessions any more this year which shows they knew that would have created mass protests.
But they have not met any of our suggestions about how to look for a compromise and they have made cuts which affect everyone. The ending of printed timetables will be a serious concern to all those who have no access to the internet which includes many elderly. The cutting of cleaning facilities at the interchanges and bus stops will make the travelling experience worse for all of us.
On Thursday we can look at plans for the Freedom Rides this year. Apart from still campaigning about the train travel a number of people have suggested issues around bus travel, particularly looking at the issue of not being able to use passes until 9.30am.
Finally, thanks to those who turned out at stations on January 5th to leaflet against the train fare increases as part of the national campaign. 35 stations were leafleted around the country. People everywhere are starting to stand up for better treatment on public transport across the country.