Save Foleshill Leisure Centre campaign defiant until the end

Save Foleshill Baths campaign defiant until the end

RIP Livingstone Baths

RIP Livingstone Baths

Sunday 24th August saw the doors of Foleshill Leisure Centre close for the last time after Coventry City Council decided to close this vital and popular community facility.

Two days prior to this on Friday 22nd August, the campaign to save the Baths held a final protest to show that they remained united and would not go quietly. The event was well supported by service users and featured by the local press.

The centre had been open for 77 years before the Labour group on the council decided to take this away from the area in favour of a multi-million pound development at the AT7 centre, on the other side of the A444.

However it did not close without a fight and the campaign to Save Foleshill Leisure Centre remained defiant to the end. Although the battle was lost, members of the community involved in the campaign should hold their heads high for giving the Council one hell of a fight.

The campaign was launched by users of the Leisure Centre who took the fight to the Local Authority by getting out around the Foleshill area and to the city in general, launching a mass petition, leafleting, posters in shops and local businesses, holding numerous protests, lobbies and a march from Edgwick Park in Foleshill to the city centre.

Campaign makes electoral challenge

Faced with the fact that it was a Labour council carrying out this closure, Will Bromwich an organiser of the campaign took the significant step of standing in the 2012 local elections in the Foleshill ward. A leaflet went out across the ward which explained why they were standing in the election and raising the profile of the campaign. Will came 3rd in the election gaining a very respectable 213 votes. The Socialist Party believes this points the way forward. When the three establishment parties all represent cuts and austerity, it is vital that trade unionists, anti-cuts campaigners and community activists develop a political alternative, including standing in elections. This is why we are working to build the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC).

Don’t Deprive – Keep Foleshill alive

On one of the protests outside the Council House with Dave Nellist

On one of the protests outside the Council House with Dave Nellist

Don’t Deprive Keep Foleshill alive was one of the slogans on one of the banners of the campaign. It made perfect sense as Foleshill is one of the most deprived areas of the city. Facilities like the Leisure Centre should be defended anywhere they are threatened, but doubly more so in areas where there is a general lack of facilities in the first place. The Council claim the new centre is just 1 mile away. But as the campaign made clear, you have to cross the busy A444 and users of Livvies came from areas such as Radford, which makes the AT7 more than 1 mile away.

Coventry’s Olympic Legacy in tatters?

Outside Foleshill Leisure Centre

Outside Foleshill Leisure Centre

As Foleshill Baths closed its doors, the city’s 50m Olympic Pool also faces closure. This is despite over 11,000 people signing a people against what the Labour council are doing. Fairfax St is closing to make way for a 25m pool that will be part of an ‘entertainment’ facility along New Union Street after Spire and Christchurch House Council buildings are knocked down. Socialists support as many leisure / sporting / entertainment centres as possible which enable the widest possible number of people to take part. However we also believe in facilities that can help develop sporting talent. They are not mutually exclusive and it a complete fallacy being developed by leading Councillors that Fairfax Street is only used by ‘elite’ swimmers.

Although the Council did not reverse its decision, the campaign can be extremely proud of everything it achieved. A wide range of people used the Baths, and that was seen in the campaign which united campaigners from a diverse number of backgrounds who were committed to keep it open. It reached out across the city and won widespread public support and sympathy, as there is much affinity with Livvies as thousands of people used it over the years and learnt to swim there.

The whole process exposed the Labour Party councillors for being the local agents of the Tories in closing the Leisure Centre down and ignoring people in Foleshill and across the area.

The Socialist Party were very proud to do what we could to support the campaign and to stand with some outstanding campaigners. There will clearly be more battles to come, as Labour continue to inflict Tory misery on our city – battles that communities and importantly the trade unions need to prepare for.

Coventry shows support for Palestine

Coventry shows support for Palestine

Protest in Coventry

Protest in Coventry

By Dan Crowter

Around 150 people gathered outside the Council House in Coventry to protest against Israel’s continued onslaught on Gaza. The mood was both sombre and angry as people read the names of the hundreds of innocent children who have been killed by Israeli state terror. Unfortunately this list is growing by the hour, with the latest attacks on Gaza perpetrated by the IDF.

The names of children murdered in Gaza were read out

The names of children murdered in Gaza were read out

It is not only the inhumane slaughter of innocent people. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in Gaza have been displaced, their homes and communities being reduced to rubble, with little or no access to basic amenities. The situation is nothing short of barbarism.

Socialist Party member Paul Hunt speaking at the protest. Anti-war placard from Israel can be seen in the background - in Hebrew, Arabic and English

Socialist Party member Paul Hunt speaking at the protest. Anti-war placard from Israel / Palestine can be seen in the background – in Hebrew, Arabic and English

Socialist Party member and Coventry Unison assistant branch secretary Paul Hunt spoke bringing solidarity for the people of Palestine from trade unions in the city.  He drew attention to the anti-war protests in Israel and the West Bank and the slogan raised by the Socialist Struggle Movement in Israel / Palestine (sister organisation of the Socialist Party)– “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation” which has been produced in Arabic, Hebrew and English . The protests in Israel are as yet small, however 6,000 have rallied in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities, with a common slogan being ‘Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies.’

A member of the community expresses his opposition to the situation in the Middle East

A member of the community expresses his opposition to the situation in the Middle East

He also echoed the feelings of many on the demo when he said that the Palestinians can’t rely on any capitalist political leaders – the US and the UK have been sending money and arms to Israel, and Labour leader Ed Miliband described himself as a Zionist. The Egyptian Government are maintaining the blockade of Gaza, which keeps the Palestinian people in poverty and locked in an open air prison. We can’t trust establishment politicians to support Palestine. Rather it will be the support, solidarity and crucially mass action of workers and ordinary people across the Middle East and indeed the world which will be the only reliable source of support for the Palestineans.

The crowd on the Council House steps

The crowd on the Council House steps

Coventry’s Labour council leader Ann Lucas and deputy leader Phil Townshend both spoke at the demo and expressed solidarity with the Palestinian people – this is welcome, but what actions will Coventry Council take to support the Palestinians? They have refused to fly the Palestinian flag from the council building, which would be seen as a basic gesture of solidarity and support.

Stop Israeli state terror

Stop Israeli state terror

There will be more protests in Coventry in the future and we urge as many people as possible to attend the national demonstration for Palestine that will be taking place in London, Saturday 9th August. There will be transport from Coventry. Contact us for more details

If you want to join the fight for a socialist solution to the crisis in the Middle East, please get in touch by clicking here