You may wonder why we’ve been so quiet on here lately? Well we’ve been busy behind the scenes and we’re pleased to announce that the Hereford Heckler has upgraded to something a bit more sophisticated.

To read about the big changes to the Heckler, and to see our new, content-full, flashy website and shop go to- herefordheckler.co.uk

Spread the word and link up to the new website, this one won’t be around for much longer…

The battle lines have been drawn in two local towns over plans to build new supermarkets. Both Hay-on-Wye and Ledbury are currently in the midst of hard debate, with plans to build the new supermarkets bringing out those both for and against.

In August of last year, Powys Council revealed plans to sell Hay-on-Wye Primary School to developers, which it is believed will pave the way for a new supermarket to be built on the site. As part of the sale agreement, the developer will have to build a new school and community centre, which the council says offers an opportunity for new facilities and services to be provided without cost to the taxpayer.

 

It has not taken long for fears over the planned new supermarket to surface. On 19th December, around 50 people attended a ‘flash mob’ protest at Powys Council Headquarters, where councillors were meeting to discuss plans to sell off the school site. Protesters used handheld torches to hold a ‘silent light display,’ but councillors used side entrances to avoid the demo. Campaigners gathered in the foyer instead.

Last night, the campaign group that has been organising against the supermarket plans, Plan B, held a public meeting at the school. The plans of the council and the developers were discussed, and attendees heard how a recent survey conducted by the Hay and District Chamber of Commerce revealed that nine out of ten traders in the town were concerned about the prospect of a new town centre supermarket.

In Ledbury, the campaign against a new supermarket has been going on for quite some time now. Last year, Ledbury Opposes Tesco Superstore was formed, opposing the application to build a new Tesco near the by-pass in the town. Petitions were started, posters were displayed in the windows of many high-street shops and a rally attracting over 100 people was held at the Market House when a Ledbury Town Council meeting was held to discuss the plans.

In November Tesco withdrew their application. However, Sainsburys had also entered the race, with plans to build a superstore and petrol station opposite the proposed location for the Tesco site. Opposition continued, and LOTS changed its name to Ledbury Opposes out of Town Superstores. They have stepped up their campaign against any superstores being built, arguing that they would take trade away from the town centre, and destroy the unique, independent character of the town. Recently, Local residents have received leaflets through their doors, and campaigners have been hitting the streets with information stalls, and raising signatures for their petition.

However, another development in the story has recently come about, with campaign group LESS – Ledbury Supports Superstores hitting the ground. LESS, like LOTS, have set up a website, had leaflets and placards printed, which are on display in some parts of the town, and have also raised 1,000 signatures for a petition in favour of the Sainsburys store to be built.

Both sides in the argument are firmly dug in, and both have arguments that will sound very convincing to a large number of people. On the one side, local and independent traders are facing a multi-national company moving onto their doorstep, which they argue will take their custom and change the unique character of the town. On the other, you have the argument that the building of the new store will create much-needed jobs for the town, and offer families cheaper goods and more convenience, at a time when nearly everybody is economising. With this in mind, it is a fair assumption that this battle will go on.

A council meeting to discuss the Sainsburys store application is due to be held on 2nd February at the Market House, Ledbury.

For more information, visit:

Ledbury Opposes out of Town Superstores website

Ledbury Supports Sainsbury’s website

Today, as Liverpool City Council met in the Town Hall to implement the city’s budget cuts, a small number of protesters gathered outside in opposition. It started as a decidedly muted and tame event. But it would not end that way, thanks to the violent intervention of Merseyside Police.
Police force a protester to the ground, photograph by Michael Kirkham
When I arrived, the police had blocked off the road at the side of the Town Hall, by the entrance that councillors and members of the public (who needed a ticket and ID) would be entering. Steel barricades were erected around the doorway. A small number of police and City Watch, supplemented by two officers on horseback, lined the road whilst demonstrators mostly just milled about aimlessly and almost silently.
There were a very small number of Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party paper sellers hanging about, as well as several comrades I recognised from a number of events. The Socialist Labour Party had their banner out as well. However, overwhelmingly, those present were from Occupy Liverpool and the majority of them were also young, late teens to early twenties, with a few who were older. Of the Trades Council, who called the demonstration, and other unions there was no sign, whilst the Socialist Party also disappeared after about an hour.
Soon enough, with a megaphone to hand, the demo warmed up somewhat. There was chanting, a bit of piss-taking about how the City Watch would be “doing an impression of real police,” and lots of jibes at Joe Anderson. After a while, we move towards the windows where the meeting was taking place and chanted and heckled at those inside. The police intervened a number of times to ask people to stop climbing the railings, but were quickly enough told where to go.
After a while, a few of us took note of a van load of police reinforcements who arrived to join a flank around the small demonstration. Mindful of being kettled in a side-street, I announced over the megaphone that we were “going for a stroll,” and we marched around the front of the building. This coincided happily with the lights stopping traffic, and so we proceeded into the road in order to block the traffic.
This brought the police hurrying towards us, with the two horseback officers trying unsuccesfully to drive us back whilst those on foot forced enough of a gap to let a bus and a cab through. After a short while, though, they appeared to give up and withdrew to form a line across the road.
The horses stuck around, though, and there was an incident where one of the animals bumped into a comrade who was facing the other way. The copper on its back then accused him of hitting the horse with his flag and she moved to grab it and/or him. In response, the megaphone siren went on, startling the horse and allowing him to stay out of her reach. She later warned me that my flag would have out her horse’s eye and, even when I shifted it so that wasn’t the case, threatened to take it off me. When challenged as to why, all she could do was scowl.
At this point, a couple of the younger Occupy members decided to sit down, and one of them began rolling a cigarette. They were quickly advised to stand up again, and when they did the police line charged. The police dived at one young lad, prompting an attempt to de-arrest him. This unfortunately wasn’t succesful due to lacking numbers, and more police screamed in, hitting people and pinning the lad to the ground under their collective weight.
What followed was chaotic, to say the least. But the result was that around seven people were arrested, whilst one comrade came out of it with a bloody nose. The police refused to say what the charges were or even where those arrested would be taken, justifying this only with “I don’t have to answer to you.” My querying whether the officer who punched someone in the face would also be arrested (asked with no illusions of such happening) was met with “that’s none of my business.” The demo had now devolved into an uneasy stand off, with police on one side and a gang of pissed off protesters on the other.
Some of the younger ones present decided that this was the best time to consider what to chant at the police, whilst I decided to inform the public of what had just happened in an obviously angry rant over the megaphone. The police didn’t bat an eyelid as I described them charging peaceful protesters andpunching someone in the face.
Ultimately, we reached the conclusion that numbers had dwindled too much to maintain the stand off indefinitely, and that the result would be a bloodbath. People were urged to leave as one group, to avoid further arrests or attacks. We marched, via Liverpool ONE, to the Occupy building, with the police in tow. As we moved, those in hi viz coats shrunk to the back, whilst those all in black, with tasers prominent on their belts took the lead.
There was also one surreal moment where a female comrade, travelling on a bike with her child strapped to the seat behind her, was confronted by three police. This was apparently just to tell her not to cycle on the pavement, but it was a clear intimidatory tactic and the protesters surrounded the police until she was allowed to move on.
After leaving the Occupy building, the police eventually gave up following when it became apparent that we were simply getting people home. This allowed everyone to disperse in groups to buses, trains and cars.
The questions raised by this incident are serious ones. It is clear that the police were in the mood for violence, perhaps after they failed to evict Occupy just over a week ago. However, following on from the attack by private security on UK Uncut, this is the second use of violence against protesters in Liverpool this month alone. And as a result of diminished numbers, no serious defence against it was possible, essentially resulting in those arrested being left to fend for themselves.
I’ve previously posited that this suggests a serious need for militant stewarding, and though the details of such have yet to be worked out I stand by that assertion. With luck, this will also offer a harsh lesson in the role played by the police in society, and of the need to work back from the assumption that they are all violent goons out to cause you harm.
-Also reported here on the BBC News website

From the Ledbury Reporter

THE axe could fall on up to 20 jobs at one of Ledbury’s major employers.

Drinks firm Universal Beverages Limited (UBL), based at Little Marcle Road, has announced it plans to restructure and could shed a number of roles at its large-scale fruit milling and beverage production and packaging facility.

Staff were briefed on the plans yesterday and 30-day consultation will now be held before a final decision is made.

Gabe Cook, cider communications manager for UBL’s owners Heineken UK Limited, said: “UBL, like all companies, are responding to the economic forecast for 2012 and see the need to adjust their ways of working to ensure that they are able to respond to the changing needs of the marketplace.

“The purpose of the consultation period is to enable everyone at UBL to input into these changes and it would be inappropriate to speculate on any outcome at this stage.”

Taken from – Hunt Saboteurs Association Press Release January 7th 2012

Huntsman Arrested for Racially Abusing Hunt Saboteur

Lee Peters, huntsman for the Ross Harriers, was arrested today for racially abusing a hunt saboteur who was present to try and stop illegal hunting taking place. As the Harriers left their meet at Penny Farthing, Aston Crews, Mr. Peters shouted racist remarks about a saboteur to other members of the hunt. Fortunately he was overheard by an independent witness who called the police.

The arrest comes just weeks after Alan Morgan, until last year huntsman to the Cotswold Vale Farmers Fox hunt, pleaded guilty to racially abusing a hunt saboteur after an incident in late 2010.

Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt saboteurs association, stated: “ Sadly it no longer surprises us at the depths members of the hunting community will sink to. This kind of behaviour is, sadly, all to common and it is just fortunate that on this occasion there was an independent witness. Hunt saboteurs are verbally and physically abused weekly by hunts but such behaviour only spurs us on in our efforts to see an end to illegal hunting.”

All Press enquiries: 07774 279133

press@huntsabs.org.uk

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