By davidcheethamcanterbury / 2020 News / 0 Comments

Anne Seller, my friend and friend of so many across the Canterbury district and beyond was a highly respected and loved by all who knew her and by all those whose lives she touched in many walks of life.  Whether as a philosophy lecturer, a school governor, long time Labour Party member, former Lady Mayoress, fellow church member, artist or a peace activist, Anne was known as a kind, thoughtful, listening person. Underlying her gentle mild tempered personality there was a deep inner strength and conviction in all that she worked for and participated in.  A teacher friend told me that Anne was the best speaker she ever invited to talk to and with her 6th form students.  Gifted in drawing people out of their shyness or reluctance to participate in discussion, Anne had exemplary personal communications skills. Her smile, her sense of humour and warm generosity of nature was able to reach out to even the most withdrawn individuals.  She was a 101% giving person deeply committed to any project she believed in. 

Others are more qualified than I to talk of Anne’s academic career, her leading role relating to women in philosophy, her art and church work.  I recall other parts of her full life in which I was proud to be her friend for 39 years.  I first met Anne in the Peace Movement in the early 80s when CND membership was flourishing.  We both helped to found the Canterbury Christian Peace movement along with others including the then Dean of Canterbury.  Anne helped to organise ‘affinity groups’  of activists who would engage in peaceful non-violent direct action (NVDA) which our women members employed to support each other when participating in peaceful protest at nuclear weapon sites.  She was a frequent visitor to the Greenham Common Women’s peace Camp where, on one occasion, she was among those of us arrested for cutting the wire of the perimeter fence.  I recall it said that she also broke though the fence while in a mini-bus.  While she was a gentle, unfailingly courteous person, Anne was also a strong woman passionate and resolved in her beliefs.

In 2001, Anne was the Lady Mayoress to Lord Mayor Fred Whitemore, also a long term member of the Labour Party and Labour councillor.  They were determined to bring the Civic Team closer to ‘ordinary’ people ensuring that they visited and supported small community groups and individuals working in the community.  During this time I remember her being invited to undertake quite a tough assault course at Canterbury barracks.  She did not hesitate to join in and did so with gusto.

I, my family and countless others, mourn Anne’s loss but will remember her with affection for her friendship and all the memories we shared together.

Julia Seath November 20

By Amy Licence / Latest News / 0 Comments

As equalities officers in Rosie Duffield’s CLP, we wholeheartedly condemn Rosie’s toxic and ill-informed comments around trans people. These comments show a complete lack of understanding of anatomy and gender identity, and are actively harmful to the trans community. 

 

A few days ago, CNN posted an article referring to “Individuals with a cervix” and it was clear that the language used in that article was gender-inclusive, accepting that people with cervixes can both be women, trans men and intersex people. Indeed, the National Health Service is clear that it is not just those that identify as women that are at risk of cervical cancer and other associated health problems. 

 

For a self-proclaimed ally to so blatantly disregard the existence of trans people is a sad indictment of the fact that solidarity can be so easily misused and misunderstood. Transmen are men; they are not women. This statement is uncontroversial but so often, certain individuals have interpreted this as an attempt to invalidate women’s rights or even used it as an opportunity to present transpeople as a danger to women. Scapegoating transgender people in this way is dangerous and encourages hostility towards a group of people who already face a huge amount of discrimination just for existing and distracts from real issues that all women (including transgender women) have to deal with.

 

Creating an environment where cisgender women’s rights and transgender people’s rights are dichotomised; where ciswomen and transpeople are pitted against each other does not promote equality for anyone. It takes two groups who would benefit from mutual solidarity, and puts them on different sides of a pointless culture war which only benefits those that don’t want society to change. As socialists, our core aim should be to fight for a society where everyone’s material needs are met, through local activism and influencing policy however we can. This includes transgender people, who want to live happily and safely just like everybody else. 

 

It is disappointing that our MP does not know this and we call on her to issue an apology to the trans community and engage and learn from trans comrades. Most of all, we extend our solidarity to the trans community and will always stand by them.

 

Signed

Kate Robertson, Women’s Officer

Rita O’Brien, LGBT Officer

Peter Forrest, BAME Officer

Rory Heap, Disabilities Officer

Emily Bagnall, Youth Officer

 

Some useful links:

 

Definitions of cisgender, transgender, gender identity etc.: https://www.stonewall.org.uk/help-advice/faqs-and-glossary/glossary-terms 

 

NHS information on cervical screening: https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/sexual-health/should-trans-men-have-cervical-screening-tests/ 

 

UK based Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust for more information on cervical cancer: https://www.jostrust.org.uk/

 

Mermaids is a charity providing helpful resources and information for transgender people and their families in the UK:

https://mermaidsuk.org.uk/

 

Original CNN article: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/30/health/new-cervical-cancer-screening-recommendations-wellness/index.html?utm_term=link&utm_medium=social&utm_content=2020-07-30T21%3A25%3A58&utm_source=twCNN

 

By Chris Cornell / Latest News / 0 Comments

Last Thursday, Canterbury City Council voted to establish a COVID-Emergency Committee of 17 councillors to make all major decisions of the council, potentially up until May 2021. The Labour Group, whilst acknowledging the scale of the emergency that we are in, proposed and voted in favour of amendments which would bring about greater accountability and prevent this decision being understood by many as a return to the ‘Executive’ system of governance which dominated local politics in the area in the early 2000’s. In this piece, Councillor Alan Baldock reflects on the discussion:

 

‘We all inhabit an ever changing new normal, local leadership has never been more important and nor has a willingness to listen and engage with local communities.  It is those communities that need local Councillors to be there helping them to survive today and have hope of a better life to come when this horrible disease is no more.

Thursday last week CCC stopped listening and started hiding, running away from scrutiny and challenge and the very people they represent.

The Conservative administration excluded twenty-one of the Councillors you elected last May from representing you and your family in the debates and decision making until quite possibly next May.  They have been deliberately and knowingly excluded during a period that in history that shaped the beginning of our recovery to a new normal.

Not only has the Tory administration now excluded Councillors it is in a panic driven rush towards, what is to all intense and purposes, a return to the Executive system so hated in Canterbury and Whitstable especially.  An Executive system of Governance, where a small group of Councillors take all the decisions, was replaced after a long and bitter campaign by a Committee system in CCC.  This Committee system now involves almost all Councillors one way or another and offered good opportunities for scrutiny and challenge, openness and public involvement.  All those checks and balances leading to robust and generally wise decision making, it’s not perfect but hugely better than an Executive.

Labour Councillors for Canterbury and Whitstable tried to prevent a Tory and LibDem sleepwalk back to the quasi Executive system.  The Torys excuse was the COVID19 emergency, they even named this new, all powerful Committed the COVID Emergency Committee.  

The Tories empowered the Chief Executive to make significant decisions and choose what to bring to the new CEC Executive style Committee.  They have prevented opposition Parties from presenting Motions or asking formal Questions, they have prevented members of the public from Petitioning and finally refused to agree that all Councillors should be involved in a future decision to extend this emergency arrangement past August.  All these lost checks and balances were ways of holding an elected Council to account, making democracy work for the people that elect their representatives.  This Tory administration has chosen to believe it is above challenge and has a devine right to rule and as such can do as it chooses without scrutiny or public accountability. Opposition for Opposition sake is poor governance, that’s not what Labour do.  At the Council Meeting on Thursday last week we presented a workable and legal solution that offered the stability of the Committee system we have now, encouraging good debate, challenge and public engagement.  To speed up the process during the emergency period we would have empowered the Committees to ratify all their decisions without reference to a full Council meeting.  The existing appointed Councillors, with there Committee knowledge and experience would be there for the emerging recovery online in virtual meetings and of course in the heart of their communities.

Along with the LibDems, Labour Councillors wanted certainty in writing that this was a temporary governance arrangement.  Frighteningly we did not get this, in fact the Tories voted against just such assurance.  How confident would you be after seeing the obedient whipped Tory Councillors vote against every single opposition amendment submitted to protect the democratic process, a process that must always be there to hold a Council of any colour to account.  Never has it been more important than now as it leads its residents into an unknown new normal along a long and challenging path that crosses all our lives and those of our loved ones.  Sadly, that is in doubt in Canterbury for the foreseeable future.’