Launch of Eastbourne People’s Assembly

Panel members are pictured at the launch

Panel members are pictured at the launch

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A new grass-roots social movement, the Eastbourne People’s Assembly Against Austerity, was launched in the town at the weekend.

More than 100 people listened to a panel of speakers that included the comedian and newspaper columnist Mark Steel, secretary of the national People’s Assembly, Sam Fairbairn, and Shelley Asquith, vice president of the National Union of Students.

Also speaking on local issues in particular were Jake Lambert, chair of Eastbourne Labour Party, and Jenny Wood from the Eastbourne Citizens Advice Bureau.

Jenny Wood spoke in depth about what she called the many heartbreaking real life consequences of welfare cuts, benefit sanctions, and social housing shortages that she and her colleagues at “the sharp end of austerity cuts” have to deal with day after day.

Speakers said what they described as “the phenomenal growth” of the People’s Assembly nationally was a big factor in enabling Jeremy Corbyn to win the recent Labour leadership contest.

But Mark Steel and others made the point the People’s Assembly is a movement that cuts across all political parties, enabling people from all parties, or none, to overcome the tribalism of national politics and come together to do something practical to stop, and reverse, the extremely negative impacts of austerity upon everybody, especially the sick, poor, disabled, students and vulnerable people.

A group spokesperson said, “Another issue raised by the audience was the failure of parliamentary democracy to fairly reflect the way votes were cast at the general election, highlighting the urgent need for electoral reform and the introduction of some form of proportional representation.

“The consensus was that the present government does not have a sufficient democratic mandate to implement the deeply damaging and wide-ranging cuts to public services and welfare provisions that have occurred so far and which are planned for the next few years.”

The next meeting of the EPA will be a Call to Actions workshop on Thursday October 1 at Elim Family Church, Hartfield Road, at 7pm where people can meet to suggest actions to be done locally. Visit www.eastbourne.peoplesassembly@yahoo.co.uk

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