SOUTH YORKSHIRE “FREEDOM RIDERS” VICTORY RALLY

SOUTH YORKSHIRE “FREEDOM RIDERS”

VICTORY RALLY

Assemble outside Sheffield Magistrates Court Castle Street

0900hrs Monday 8th December 2014

then  march to Sheffield Railway Station

 

Please come and join us for a massive Victory Rally in Sheffield on 8th December. Something remarkable happened in South Yorkshire this year when literally hundreds of pensioners and disabled people – supported by trade unionists from the area – took direct action in response to swingeing cuts to concessionary travel on local public transport. In a series of “Freedom Rides” in which hundreds of protesters boarded local trains and refused to pay, we saw some of the biggest acts of civil disobedience so far in protest at this Government’s Austerity spending cuts anywhere in the country. Originally planned as a mass protest rally on the day two “ringleaders” were due in court to face public disorder charges, this has been turned into a Victory Rally now that the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) was forced to drop all charges thanks to public pressure.

 

 

Message from Dave Gibson Chair of Barnsley Trade Union Council which provided crucial leadership support for the “Freedom Ride” protests:

“I would like to invite ASLEF, the Bakers Union, UNITE the Union, the RMT, Barnsley Trades Council, Sheffield Trades Council, Unite the Resistance, the Yorkshire region of the National Pensioners Convention, the Regional TUC and the National Union of Journalists to have a speaker at our rally outside the Sheffield Magistrates Court from 9am onwards on Monday December 8th. This is in recognition of the consistent invaluable support we have had from your organisations.

The rally has changed in nature as the CPS have just announced that they are dropping ALL charges against George Arthur and Tony Nuttall because of insufficient evidence. This is despite 13 Transport Police being lined up to give ‘evidence’.

We obviously consider this climb-down to be very significant, not just for George and Tony, but for our campaign. We endured a campaign of heavy policing from June onwards which culminated in kettling 60 of us on Sheffield station on June 23rd – and the 2 arrests. Their tactics were designed to intimidate us. So their retreat gives us the renewed determination to press on harder for free train travel for older people.

We have decided at a 40 strong meeting today to turn the Dec. 8th protest into a celebration of the charges being dropped, a political rally and a march to Sheffield Station Platform 1 to protest outside the British Transport Police offices.

We hope that your unions will not only provide speakers for the rally but will do all you can to mobilise support for both the rally and the demonstration.

We have coaches coming from Barnsley and Huddersfield(provided by UNITE), another from Doncaster and Rotherham and transport – again UNITE organised – from as far away as Bristol and Durham.   

The South Yorkshire Freedom Riders are fighting hard to stop Tory austerity policies wrecking our lives. If we win, it will be a victory for the whole movement.

in solidarity,

Dave Gibson (on behalf of the Freedom Riders)”

 

 

Tony Nuttall – arrested and charged “Freedom Rider”- addressed Sheffield Trade Union Council on Tuesday 25th November -just days before CPS dropped all charges!

Tony explained the history of the protests which have involved 500-800 people since February 2014 in opposition to cuts in concessionary travel for pensioners and disabled people in South Yorkshire. There were a number of mass meetings, lobbies of Councils and SYPTA as well as 6 “Freedom Rides” – where hundreds of protestors travelled on local train services and refused to pay. This pressure led to a massive climb-down by SYPTA on 8th June when unrestricted free travel was restored on all bus and train services, including into West Yorkshire as before. For pensioners, free travel on local trains was not restored but half fare was introduced instead of full fare. This was a victory for the “Freedom Riders” but it was agreed to continue the protests to try and win back free travel on trains for pensioners too. However on the next “Freedom Ride” on 23rd June the protesters were confronted by a massive police and security staff presence who were clearly aiming to stop the protest. 50 protesters were kettled on the station platform for 40 minutes. It was then the protesters were “attacked” by the police and security staff causing elderly and disabled people (some of whom were in wheelchairs) to be pushed to the ground. It was clear they were aiming to pick out the “ringleaders” and this is when Tony Nuttall and George Arthur were roughly manhandled and arrested. A massive protest rally is being planned for Wednesday 8th December from 0845hrs onwards outside Sheffield Magistrates Court on Castle Street when Tony and George appear under public disorder charges. UNITE is laying on coaches for protesters to travel to the rally from Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster and minibuses are bringing protesters from Leeds and Huddersfield.

Questions and comments from the floor included:

·        UK Pensioners enjoy one of the lowest pensions in Europe and have had a massive cut (worth £5B nationally) by reducing inflation upgrading from RPI to CPI. 

·        Norwegian oil profits were reinvested into pensions giving the highest state pension in Europe. Norwegian pension funds have recently bought Sheffield’s out of town shopping centre Meadowhall

Assemble outside Sheffield Magistrates Court Castle Street

0900hrs Monday 8th December 2014

then  march to Sheffield Railway Station

 

Please come and join us for a massive Victory Rally in Sheffield on 8th December. Something remarkable happened in South Yorkshire this year when literally hundreds of pensioners and disabled people – supported by trade unionists from the area – took direct action in response to swingeing cuts to concessionary travel on local public transport. In a series of “Freedom Rides” in which hundreds of protesters boarded local trains and refused to pay, we saw some of the biggest acts of civil disobedience so far in protest at this Government’s Austerity spending cuts anywhere in the country. Originally planned as a mass protest rally on the day two “ringleaders” were due in court to face public disorder charges, this has been turned into a Victory Rally now that the Criminal Prosecution Service (CPS) was forced to drop all charges thanks to public pressure.

 

 

Message from Dave Gibson Chair of Barnsley Trade Union Council which provided crucial leadership support for the “Freedom Ride” protests:

“I would like to invite ASLEF, the Bakers Union, UNITE the Union, the RMT, Barnsley Trades Council, Sheffield Trades Council, Unite the Resistance, the Yorkshire region of the National Pensioners Convention, the Regional TUC and the National Union of Journalists to have a speaker at our rally outside the Sheffield Magistrates Court from 9am onwards on Monday December 8th. This is in recognition of the consistent invaluable support we have had from your organisations.

The rally has changed in nature as the CPS have just announced that they are dropping ALL charges against George Arthur and Tony Nuttall because of insufficient evidence. This is despite 13 Transport Police being lined up to give ‘evidence’.

We obviously consider this climb-down to be very significant, not just for George and Tony, but for our campaign. We endured a campaign of heavy policing from June onwards which culminated in kettling 60 of us on Sheffield station on June 23rd – and the 2 arrests. Their tactics were designed to intimidate us. So their retreat gives us the renewed determination to press on harder for free train travel for older people.

We have decided at a 40 strong meeting today to turn the Dec. 8th protest into a celebration of the charges being dropped, a political rally and a march to Sheffield Station Platform 1 to protest outside the British Transport Police offices.

We hope that your unions will not only provide speakers for the rally but will do all you can to mobilise support for both the rally and the demonstration.

We have coaches coming from Barnsley and Huddersfield(provided by UNITE), another from Doncaster and Rotherham and transport – again UNITE organised – from as far away as Bristol and Durham.   

The South Yorkshire Freedom Riders are fighting hard to stop Tory austerity policies wrecking our lives. If we win, it will be a victory for the whole movement.

in solidarity,

Dave Gibson (on behalf of the Freedom Riders)”

 

 

Tony Nuttall – arrested and charged “Freedom Rider”- addressed Sheffield Trade Union Council on Tuesday 25th November -just days before CPS dropped all charges!

Tony explained the history of the protests which have involved 500-800 people since February 2014 in opposition to cuts in concessionary travel for pensioners and disabled people in South Yorkshire. There were a number of mass meetings, lobbies of Councils and SYPTA as well as 6 “Freedom Rides” – where hundreds of protestors travelled on local train services and refused to pay. This pressure led to a massive climb-down by SYPTA on 8th June when unrestricted free travel was restored on all bus and train services, including into West Yorkshire as before. For pensioners, free travel on local trains was not restored but half fare was introduced instead of full fare. This was a victory for the “Freedom Riders” but it was agreed to continue the protests to try and win back free travel on trains for pensioners too. However on the next “Freedom Ride” on 23rd June the protesters were confronted by a massive police and security staff presence who were clearly aiming to stop the protest. 50 protesters were kettled on the station platform for 40 minutes. It was then the protesters were “attacked” by the police and security staff causing elderly and disabled people (some of whom were in wheelchairs) to be pushed to the ground. It was clear they were aiming to pick out the “ringleaders” and this is when Tony Nuttall and George Arthur were roughly manhandled and arrested. A massive protest rally is being planned for Wednesday 8th December from 0845hrs onwards outside Sheffield Magistrates Court on Castle Street when Tony and George appear under public disorder charges. UNITE is laying on coaches for protesters to travel to the rally from Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster and minibuses are bringing protesters from Leeds and Huddersfield.

Questions and comments from the floor included:

·        UK Pensioners enjoy one of the lowest pensions in Europe and have had a massive cut (worth £5B nationally) by reducing inflation upgrading from RPI to CPI. 

·        Norwegian oil profits were reinvested into pensions giving the highest state pension in Europe. Norwegian pension funds have recently bought Sheffield’s out of town shopping centre Meadowhall

·        The “Freedom Riders” have been a fantastic example of direct action and civil disobedience – exactly what the rest of us should be doing!

·        The “Freedom Riders” have been a fantastic example of direct action and civil disobedience – exactly what the rest of us should be doing!

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