By Katey Pugh / 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.’

 

 

By Councillor Alan Baldock / Latest News / 0 Comments

Canterbury’s Wednesday and Friday general market is ever popular and has been part of our City Centre for a very long time.  But will this generation of market traders be the last, sacrificed by Canterbury City Council as the collateral damage needed to enable a gentrification of public space.

 

The report that accompanies the public consultation on the refurbishment of the public realm in St Georges Street was clear that the closure the General Market will benefit business in the Whitefriars, as such a desirable outcome of the project.  Such blatant protectionism is this Conservative Councils choice, rejecting as it does their mantra of free market in favour of supporting big business.  I guess none of us are too surprised, nor that the Canterbury BID are getting fully behind this proposal.  This as reasoning to explain the loss of more than thirty jobs and many market businesses is unacceptable and just wrong.

 

No one can doubt that St Georges Street in particular is in very poor condition and underused as a public space in the City Centre, its desperately needing a refurbishment.  But the reason for its condition and decline is not a weekly General Market, the victim in this scenario.  It has simply not been maintained, nor has it been kept clean, properly supervised or promoted as an event area by Canterbury City Council.  For many years it could have been run as a vibrant public space, but this Councils approach has been lacklustre and fragmented at best, undoubtably resulting in its present appalling condition.

 

Even after the proposed £600K improvements the available public space is little changed.  The events talked of in the Council Report on the proposal are of course aspirational as is the sculpture, art and other traders suggested, all are just possibilities.  The loss of the general market is ironically the one firm proposal on the new public space.

 

This refurbishment of St Georges Street public realm should instead be a catalyst that drives a holistic change, encompassing the old and the new, tradition and innovation.  It is not the time to sanitize what residents and visitors see and do, nor to become nothing more than the tacky extended shop front to big business. 

 

There is scope for our City to have vibrant and interesting shops in Whitefriars and the rest of the City Centre, markets that are artisan, street food that is delicious and a City Centre General Market two days a week so we can buy anything from a locally grown cauliflower to an inexpensive coat for the kids.

 

The Labour Group of Councillors on Canterbury City Council, with the support of Rosie Duffield MP will continue to campaign to make the case for keeping the General Market and delivering a City Centre that seeks to be different.  A place for performance, street art and the artisan, a space to promote small business and a whole lot more.  There are seven days in a week and three hundred and sixty-five days, we don’t need to close a General Market we need to gain events and markets for five more days every week.  A busy exciting and ever-changing City Centre will undoubtably bring customers to both our shops and markets, securing there future together through the evolving retail world in the City they choose to share with residents and visitors.