SOLIDARITY NOT CHARITY: NORFOLK AGAINST HOLIDAY HUNGER

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By Sean Meleady

While Marcus Rashford has been making headlines with the campaign that led to a government u-turn on free meals vouchers, community groups are working hard to make sure that free meals vouchers are provided to families that need them during every school holiday, not just while the Coronavirus pandemic is in the news.   

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MUTUAL AID IN ACTION: NORWICH’S COMMUNITY RESPONSE TO COVID

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By Sean Meleady

In Norwich, as in many other parts of the country, mutual aid groups set up in local communities through Facebook and Whatsapp have been helping people through the Covid-19 crisis in Norwich. These groups have been particularly important for the elderly, vulnerable, single parents and those asked to shield themselves by staying at home.

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ACORN NORWICH – THE UNION TAKING ON DODGY LANDLORDS

By Sean Meleady

Norwich may call itself a ‘fine city’, but this isn’t always the case for renters. Despite some positive stories, such as the Goldsmith Street social housing project, many tenants find life in the city tough.

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THE ONLY WAY TO END POLICE BRUTALITY IS TO ABOLISH THE POLICE

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by Lisa Insansa Woods

CW: racism, violence, police brutality

A tide of anguish currently sweeps our world, hammering at the white supremacist order. On the evening of May 25th, George Floyd was mercilessly killed by a white US policeman. The world watched from their homes as Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, ignoring his screams as he called out that he couldn’t breathe. George Floyd was suffocated of his last breath. Three other policemen stood and watched. The state brutally murdered a Black man. The people decided to revolt.

Right now, we are seeing mass protests from the US to the UK to the rest of the world, both on the streets and online, physically and mentally. Police brutality pervades our society and the recent piling up of Black bodies such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery has become just too much. We need change. The only way to achieve this change is to abolish the police.Continue Reading

WHAT NEXT FOR NORWICH’S YOUNG CLIMATE PROTESTERS?

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By Howard Green

Since 2018, cities across the globe have had many of their Fridays dominated by the vibrancy and passion of youth climate protesters. It’s a testament to the radical attitudes of Norwich’s young population that such large crowds have flocked to the city centre to protest against the current climate regime. Sadly, the Coronavirus pandemic has dried up physical activism in the city for the time being. There is a serious risk that this pandemic may lead to the voices of young people, especially those in secondary school and sixth form, being silenced within Norfolk and across the country. We must diagnose the problem if we are to move forward and continue on in protest.

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ARE VENUES REALLY DISAPPEARING? MUSIC VENUES IN NORWICH ARE BUCKING THE TREND

by Alex Day

Clubs these days have it tough. 

Gentrification, some say, is killing our venues. Student flats, noise restrictions, Dry January

How does one make money with surging rents and a clientele streaming limitless online content from home, bed-ridden and booze-shy?

AND there’s the dubious authorities I imagine peering through the smoke and shadows, itching to close noisy night spots. One wrong move and they’ll surely revoke your license. 

Dingy nests for underground music are being smothered into obscurity – the narrative goes. 

There is evidence to support this. In the last decade, 35% of independent venues in the UK closed.  A UK ‘live music census’, conducted for the first time in 2018, found that a third of live music venues have experienced problems with property developments

As with live music, night clubs are also having a rough ride. Over just eight years, the capital has lost 50 per cent of its nightclubs. Fabric, a behemoth in London’s clubbing landscape, had their license revoked after two drug-related deaths (they subsequently reopened following a rapturous national campaign). 

In Bristol, clubs are also being barged adrift. Thekla, an infamous boat party, was threatened by a residential development in 2017 and, the following year, Lakota announced they may refashion themselves into a ‘mixed-use development’ (a by-word for swanky digs and a Co-op). 

 

Norwich Arts Centre, Space Studios and Gonzo’s Two Room remain fiercely independent and are teeming with dancers.

 

Thekla and Fabric continue to host parties, but their rocky rides remind us our favourite clubs are not immune to urban development nor police authority. Corporate hegemony seems to be erasing independent venues. 

Yet, in spite of such cataclysmic headlines, music venues in Norwich are hitting their stride. Norwich Arts Centre, Space Studios and Gonzo’s Two Room remain fiercely independent and are teaming with dancers. They have not suffered the pesky erasure that plagues other cities.

I spoke to the managers and programmers involved to find out how they do it. 

Gonzo’s Two Room is a “breath of fresh air’” says Levi, a promoter with 12 years’ experience. Last year the club rehoused, abandoning Bermuda Bob’s for a space darned with sophisticated interior, rooftop terrace and ‘sweaty 250 cap’: “we’re blessed to have it’” Levi concurs. So far, Gigi FM, Peach and Joy Orbison have graced the booth. 

Like Gonzo’s Two Room, Norwich Arts Centre (NAC) has embarked on an upgrade. The bar and auditorium have been refurbished and a gender-neutral toilet is incoming, supported by a £500,000 grant; all part of the NAC Regenerations Project. 

Space Studios is a smaller, 100-capacity, venue and ‘the closest thing to a house party’, according to Abraham, the manager. It is a hotbed for new promoters, like Bass in Space and Utopia 4 Junglists, and live bands. Abraham booked 100 bands last year. 

So what’s their secret? 

One way to turn a profit is to diversify. As well as music, Gonzo’s offers a monthly comedy night and operates a ‘Tea Room’ downstairs, whilst Space Studios houses yoga, meditation and 18 artist studios. NAC is also eclectic, presenting spoken word and theatre.  No venue is aligned to just live music. 

 

…when local artists develop, shows improve and audiences flock faster

 

Another approach helping sustain these venues is to work closely with the local community.  At the top of Abraham’s agenda is to “‘develop a scene and support local talent”. He admits it’s “difficult to turn a profit”, but such a component is unimportant when partnerships are fuelled by goodwill. At NAC, ‘True Stories Live’ invites amateur raconteurs to the stage, voicing local stories to a local audience. Gonzo’s supports local promoters, like Our House and Keep on Dancing, which has a synchronous effect: when local artists develop, shows improve and audiences flock faster. 

Amongst the local talent, these venues are platforming marginalised communities. Gonzo’s aim for a 50/50 gender split in DJ bookings; evidenced by recent headliners Éclair Fifi and Moxie. The NAC are a long-term supporter of House of Daze, a leading Norwich drag show, and began this year with a discussion on ‘representation’.  Space Studios have also announced a monthly ‘House of Daze’ event. To thrive, venues must be accessible and open-minded.

Grassroots venues are helped further by city-wide festivals, such as Wigflex City Festival and Simple Things, which draws punters to unchartered destinations in Bristol and Nottingham. Last year, Norwich was enlivened by Wild Paths, a three-day music festival that celebrates venues, as much as music. All the programmers I spoke to were busy assembling gigs for a flurry of footfall this October, when Wild Paths returns. 

All this ingenuity is, crucially, being supported by our local council. Whilst transitioning into Gonzo’s Two Room, Levi felt the “the council were great” and “understood what you were doing”.  The figures confirm: Since 2017, the council has granted 100 new licenses and no venues have been closed due to noise complaints. 

At national government level, optimism abounds: small and medium music venues can look forward to a 50% reduction in business rates, which the Music Venue Trust estimates will save each site an average of £7,500 a year. And, Arts Council have renewed their Supporting Grassroots Live Music Fund, a pot that amounts to £1.5 million, until 2021. 

Still, venues embedded in Norwich’s compact lanes are not immune from noise complaints. Bermuda Bob’s renamed and relocated after a neighbouring pub issued a noise complaint last year (although they weren’t evicted). Space Studios, which is not a nightclub in a traditional sense, abides by strict decibel rules to deter from confrontation and encourage conversation. A few years ago, they closed temporarily due to ‘licensing issues’. 

Running venues is rarely plain sailing. To avoid instances of ‘statutory nuisance’ in future, property developers and politicians must continue to support the creative calisthenics performed by our limber venues. This means sound-proofing new developments and appointing a night-czar, like Amy Lamé. Beer-glugging youths, poised with gun fingers, may be underrepresented at the director’s table, but their access to culture should not be limited. 

Our nightspots are bolstered by diverse events and offering their platform to local and marginalised groups – smart remedies for a tough climate. Yet, without the approval and financial backbone of local and national government, venues vanish. 

Head out and support. Here’s a programme of events that invite you to shuffle:

https://www.facebook.com/events/3040736312638075/

https://www.facebook.com/events/2723143201139464/

https://www.facebook.com/events/158872398865144/

 

[In light of recent COVID-19 expansion and news, please be aware that these events may now not be taking place as originally described.]

Featured image credit: Gonzo’s Tea Room Facebook Page


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AN ODE TO PLATFORM 12

By Tom McGhie

It’s a tranquil late summer evening in Norwich city centre. A blanket of stillness coats the ancient streets and the sun’s gentle retreat takes with it memories of a pristine Sunday afternoon.

Earlier in the day, a walk through the Lanes would have been punctuated by groups of young men in a state of alcohol-induced revelry or tourists snatching photographs of the Cathedral. Now, it’s an easy stroll with a soundtrack of birdsong and distant traffic.

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THE DRAG BOOM AND POP CHEESE – A LOOK AT HOW NORWICH DRAG HAS FLOURISHED

by Alex Day

cw: mentions of homophobia, violence

Belinda twerks on stage, wearing glitter and a pink wig, and the crowd erupts into whoops and whistles. To the sound of Rihanna singing ‘bitch better have my money’, she makes it rain with cash hidden under her bra. Banknotes fly over our heads.  The compère for the evening, Cynthia Road, tells us this is the first time Belinda has performed drag and the crowd, equally glitter-garnished, erupts once more.  

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LAND JUSTICE AND THE 2019 LABOUR MANIFESTO: A LOCAL PERSPECTIVE

by Yali Banton-Heath

A massive issue facing the UK at the moment is right under our noses and indeed right under our feet. That issue is land. Though land injustice may stem from historical legislation such as the Enclosure Acts and the shrinking of the commons through large-scale land grabs over past centuries, the phenomenon continues today, with land inequality becoming ever-increasingly stark. Land is moving more and more from public control into wealthy private hands, with land and housing prices rocketing over recent decades as a result of speculative inflation. In 1995 the total value of land in the UK was around £1 trillion, that figure is now more than £5 trillion

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SIHLABELELA REVIEW

by Alex Day

An exciting commission, held at St Peter Hungate, features a sound installation responding to the history of the church and what these spaces mean in our secular times.

St. Peter Hungate, like many churches in Norwich, no longer conducts services. It is occupied by Hungate Medieval Art, who exhibit stain glass windows and icons, to a more secular public. It’s both a religious site and a heritage site. Throughout this year, a project called Heriligion has commissioned five artists to reflect on the history of this space.

From 19th July to the 25th August, Mira Calix presented ’Sihlabelela’, a sound installation. 12 tape machines (Sony cassette-corder TCM –939), suspended on plinths, play discordant, low quality sound – a collage of echoes. The recorded voices sing ‘we sing together’, over and over, like a ghostly choir. The tapes evoke the crowds that once sang here.

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RAGS TO RICHES – A BUSKER’S TALE

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by Tom McGhie

Three o’clock in the morning. You’re lying in a sleeping bag under a workbench in a dark room surrounded by tools and sawdust with a ragged blanket warding off the elements that pour in through the window which doesn’t properly close. The nighttime gale weaves its way into the building, embraces your exposed limbs and extremities and you shudder your brain back into the realm of sleep.

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CAN SCHOOL STRIKES FOR CLIMATE CHANGE GOVERNMENT INACTION?

school strike climate

by Sean Meleady

Extinction Rebellion may be getting the most headlines, but another grassroots movement is challenging government and global inaction on climate change. The School Strike for Climate – also known as Fridays for Future, Youth for Climate and Youth Strike for Climate – is a growing international movement of schoolchildren who go ‘on strike’ from school in protest against climate change.  Continue Reading

NOTHING FILLS A HOLE LIKE A DOUBLE DECKER: THE LADDER REVIEW

 by Joely Santa Cruz

In his new play titled The Ladder, Shȏn Dale Jones explores how our individual and collective choices are influenced through both the stories we choose to tell and the ones we decide to guard.

Nothing Fills a Hole Like a Double Decker: 31 years ago, the City Centre end of Earlham Road imploded after the ancient chalk mine beneath it collapsed in on itself, dragging a Number 26 bus into the hole that it created. Jones begins his performance by questioning the collective inaction and wilful ignorance that propels us into our own holes in the road.

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A TALE OF TWO DISCIPLINES – INTERVIEW WITH SALAH EL NAGAR

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By Ananya Wilson-Bhattacharya

Since the Norwich poetry scene largely consists of current or former students and local writers, a chef originating from Cairo doesn’t seem to fit the mould. But Salah El Nagar has achieved local fame, both for his widely translated Arabic poems, and for his cooking. By day, he runs Ramses Egyptian Food, usually located in the market in the heart of Norwich city centre (he also runs pop-up stalls at venues around the city). By evening, you can find him at the Birdcage, promoting acceptance, diversity, and gender equality through his poignant and witty poems.  

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EXTINCTION REBELLION – HEADING FOR EXCLUSION AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

by Craig Adlard

This year’s War of Words – The Progressive Media Conference welcomed a panel of four activists to discuss direct action and concerns surrounding the current activist scene. While noting that the Extinction Rebellion (XR) is in some way appreciated, one major theme of the discussion was that XR is failing to take along vulnerable and minority groups. There’s a feeling that the movement is too white and middle-class, and is unsettlingly weak on climate injustice messaging. As someone on the radical left but also actively on board with XR locally, I wanted to write this piece to largely reaffirm those criticisms, but from an insider’s viewpoint. Far from being single-minded and unreflexive, discussions within the group show that XR is very much seeking to learn and grow.Continue Reading

#NOTENOUGH – UEA’S MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS

By Jess O’Dwyer

Content warning: mentions suicide

Going to university is a challenging time. For many it is their first time away from home with full independence. New students are presented with countless opportunities and choices, many of which will shape and change them as people. For people with mental health issues, however, this challenge is often exacerbated.

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STORY AND SONG – AN INTERVIEW WITH SKINNY LISTER

By Rowan Gavin

Skinny Lister play one hell of a live show. In fact, so raucous and rousing are the London six-piece folk outfit’s performances, I’ve yet to encounter any journalism about them that doesn’t start by stating that fact – and I see no reason to change that here. With guitar and accordion and their ever-present flagon of rum, they set the Norwich Arts Centre a-jumping last Friday night, just as they did the Waterfront on their last visit to Noz in late 2017. This time, I was lucky enough to sit down with frontwoman Lorna Thomas in the bar beforehand, to talk all things Skinny.
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BANANA LINK – THE NORWICH ORGANISATION DEFENDING BANANA WORKERS’ RIGHTS

By Paul Lievens, Banana Link Communications Officer

Bananas have been part of our diet for thousands of years, and are the most popular fruit in the world, with over 100 billion bananas eaten around the world every year. In the UK, each of us eats on average around 10 kg, or 100 bananas, per year. Grown across the tropical regions of the world, banana export production provides an essential source of income for hundreds of thousands of rural households in developing countries. However, many of the plantation workers who produce our bananas fail to earn a living wage and do not have their labour rights respected, while the intensive use of agrochemicals harms the health of workers and the surrounding environment.

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WHEN (REBEL REVOLT RESIST)

By John William Brown

[Content Warning: mentions violence against women]

WHEN (Rebel Revolt Resist)

For my daughter.

When a woman in some foreign land
Is stoned to death by law,
Is buried to her neck in sand,
Her naked face smashed – raw,
When feminists get jailed, then hung
When they fight for the right to exist,
Speak out – Sing out their silenced song!

Rebel – Revolt – Resist.
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RHODESIA IN NORFOLK AND THE DANGERS OF BRITAIN’S IMPERIAL AMNESIA

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by Josh Doble

The unassuming small parish village of Southrepps, twenty-two miles north of Norwich, is the surprising location for a memorial to the former pariah state of Southern Rhodesia/Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe. This is not necessarily a well-known site – it was stumbled across during a summer cycle – yet it represents an important space to demonstrate the wider political environment in rural Norfolk, and the area’s connections to right-wing pressure groups further afield. The memorial itself is opposite Southrepps Hall and is made up of an avenue of Tilia Cordata – small-leaf lime trees – and three flag poles hosting the Union Jack, the Rhodesian flag and the original Southern Rhodesian flag. The Sladden family are the ‘Lords’ and ‘Ladies’ of Southrepps Hall and have a close history with Rhodesia, historically being settlers themselves. It would appear that the Sladden family built the memorial to commemorate their connections to the former country and to celebrate its memory.

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FIVE NORWICH BANDS TO WATCH IN 2019

by Rowan Gavin

It’s been a great year for music in East Anglia’s Finest City. If you’re a gig-goer, you’ll no doubt have come across some of the many up-and-coming Norwich and Norfolk musicians breathing new life into the local scene these last few months. Here, in no particular order, I’d like to present five of the local acts that have most impressed, entranced, and inspired me in 2018.Continue Reading

RATS TO RICHES

by David Breakspear

CW: suicide

“Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time!”. In terms of reform and progress within our penal system, the proverb is about as much use as eating soup with a fork. For a start, how would you know?

Unfortunately, we do need prisons. Ever since Eve – reportedly – ate the forbidden fruit from the garden of Eden, crime has been in existence in human narratives. Crime, either directly or indirectly, affects us all; victims of crime or the family/loved ones/friends of the victim, perpetrator of crime, or, yet again, the family/friends/loved ones of the perpetrators. You may even pay higher insurance premiums due to crime. Crime affects all, therefore, crime is the responsibility of all, especially the prison system.Continue Reading

REBEL FOR LIFE: AN INTERVIEW WITH EXTINCTION REBELLION NORWICH

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by Jess O’Dwyer

The Earth is our nurturer, inspirer and protector, yet we are actively and consciously driving ourselves towards her (and our) oblivion. Extreme weather is the new normal: we’re chopping down trees faster than we’re planting them and we’re still burning fossil fuels despite the common knowledge that they are damaging to the atmosphere and are causing our own children to struggle to breathe.

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PROPER MUSICIANS – AN INTERVIEW WITH SHAME

By Rowan Gavin

Scions of the much-lauded South London guitar band scene Shame made their Norwich gig debut on Monday, captivating a packed-out Waterfront with their riotous stage presence and uniquely mesmerising sound. At times unsettling, at times brutalist, always evocative – if you’re into your post-punk, past or present, you’ll have heard something like Shame, but nothing quite like the orchestrated noise of their live show.

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THE DOUBLE DECEPTION OF THE UEA EXPENSES SCANDAL

By Lewis Martin

This week it was revealed that the senior management team at UEA has been claiming ludicrous expenses whilst on business trips across the world. Some of these claims have included limousine rides through Hong Kong, first class train and plane tickets, five star hotels and meals costing as much as £640. This attitude to spending university money is absurd and distasteful, but it is not surprising. It is a predictable result of the changes that UK higher education has undergone over the past eight years.

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EXTRACTING THE HITLER URINE

by Zoe Harding

Article contains strong language.

I went to a counter-protest last week.

Chances are you did too, if you’re reading this. The protest, by a group called Unity UK, was opposite the Norwich town hall and was probably against immigrants, although most of the people there seemed to think it was in favour of Brexit and one chap wanted to Drain The Swamp (an odd choice of slogan in a county that would be little more than Thetford and a lot of dry mud if we drained it, but I digress.) The counter-protest, on the other hand, was a who’s who of Norwich’s local lefties, turning up with drums, flags, megaphones and a generally good-natured if slightly intense demeanor, to stand opposite them and drown them out.Continue Reading

THE FUTURE OF NORWICH MUSIC

By Tom McGhie

It’s about half past six as we pull up outside the Brickmakers, the once great bastion of free music and celebrated Norwich venue. In the fading evening light, I can still make out the instantly recognisable logo of the guitar which adorns the pub’s entrance – a beacon of sorts for music lovers and punters all over East Anglia. The ‘Brickies’ is large enough to accommodate 300 people and on most Fridays and Saturdays it does so, playing host to many raucous rock gigs and performances. However, as with all local music venues, on non-gig nights the atmosphere in these places is far less febrile and only dedicated drinkers and regulars frequent the venue.

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REVIEW: THE DAY OF THE DUCK, BY HELEN STRATFORD AND LAWRENCE BRADBY

by Ewa Giera

Content warning: xenophobia, discrimination

The Day of the Duck, by Helen Stratford and Lawrence Bradby, takes form of neither a scripted play, nor a novel: intertwined with visual diagrams, elements of script and a simple, character-driven narrative, the book is a unique experience as opposed to a traditional novel. The story revolves around a Muscovy duck, the last of its species in a town heavily based on Ely in Cambridgeshire, whose goal is to discover why its brethren have all disappeared. The book is framed as a noir detective-style plot – the Muscovy duck takes on the role of the detective and asks all the uncomfortable questions to people whose names it’s not concerned with, which serves the aim of having the characters translate as everymen.Continue Reading

FACING UP TO THE CHALLENGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE COMMUNICATION

By Laura Potts

Last Saturday, I attended the Green House Think Tank’s free one-day conference Facing Up To Climate Reality at the Norwich Forum. Founded in 2011, the Green House Think Tank aims to lead the development of green thinking in the UK, and offer positive alternatives to the business-as-usual approach that has done so much harm to the environment. Their conference aimed to consider questions around the reality of climate change and what it means for jobs and the economy in this country.

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WHY ISN’T NORWICH HIGHER IN THE POPULARITY CONTEST?

by James Anthony

A poll of over fifty-thousand people has found that Norwich is more popular than major cities including Manchester, Birmingham and even London, ‘The Big Smoke’ itself. However, many areas across the country have been rated as more popular than our beloved city, creating local headlines such as “How can Stoke be rated a nicer city than Norwich?” and comments of, “At least we have Delia Smith!”. Norwich ended up as the twenty-fourth most popular city in that YouGov survey, and I was certainly amongst those who were a little disappointed with the result.

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HAPPY DAZE – THE REVIVAL OF NORWICH DRAG

By Laura Potts

Take The Weight Off Your Mascara is Norwich’s up-and-coming drag night, run through The House of Daze drag house. I was lucky enough to interview four key members of The House of Daze: Sylvia Daze, Liv, Bishy Barnabee and Devil Child. Consisting of both regular performers and occasional guests, such as Dolores Deepthroat, The House of Daze are following in the footsteps of previous Norwich drag collectives like The Rose Bud Club and such local drag legends as Luna Howl.

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A CENTURY OF SOLIDARITY: PROCESSIONS 2018

By Laura Potts

This year I was determined to make the most of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival, taking place from the beginning of May. Last year I found myself reading about projects and events that had already taken place. However, this year I was aware of a project early on that was just getting underway: ‘Processions’, in association with Artichoke and 14-18 NOW. This idea saw a number of women gather together with local textile artist  Fiona Kay Muller to create a banner. This banner, with all its laboured hours very much part of its fibres, would then be part of a nationwide procession in London, also taking place in Belfast, Cardiff, and Edinburgh.

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A CO-OPERATIVE FUTURE FOR STUDENTS – BEYOND TUITION FEES #9

By Lewis Martin

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

Up and down the UK, from Edinburgh to Brighton, students are building alternatives to existing, exploitative housing and food practices. How? By creating co-operatives! These alternative ways of organising are expanding and flourishing at a rate never seen before, as students look to take their lives into their own hands, in defiance of the rising cost of living and exploitative landlords and businesses. The founding of Student Co-operative Homes, a launch pad organisation for potential student housing co-ops across the UK founded by the grassroots network Students for Co-operation and supported by national co-op federation Co-Ops UK, demonstrates the growing support for these independent, democratic projects.

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CARING FOR THOSE WHO CARE

by James Anthony

Across the country during 11th-17th June, various individuals, charities and institutions will be celebrating Carers Week 2018 in recognition of unpaid carers and the work they do. That period will also mark just over two and a half months of my time working for a local carers charity. It’s opened my eyes to the issues that many carers face and what needs to change to improve their lives, but also to recognise the need to publicise Carers Week and recognise the contribution of carers to society as a whole.Continue Reading

REVIEW: SCRATCH IT! AT THE NORWICH ARTS CENTRE

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by Lewis Martin

On Sunday 6th May I attended Scratch It! hosted by Hack Theatre at the Norwich Arts Centre. Aimed at attracting new writers and ongoing projects, the evening looks to give a platform to work that is happening in the area so it can be developed and flourish. The arts varied across the evening, ranging from comedy to drama and using different styles and formats.Continue Reading

WARDS A-M: NORWICH CITY COUNCIL’S MAY ELECTIONS

world votes radical

by Anonymous

Read the Preview to the May Elections here.

This year, thirteen out of Norwich’s thirty-nine council seats will be up for election on May 3rd in thirteen different wards across the city. The big four parties (Conservatives, Greens, Labour and Lib Dems) are expected to be contesting every seat, possibly alongside some independent candidates.

The four different parties will have four very different set of objectives and aims, with hopes of defences and gains mixed in with aspirations of breakthrough success for some here in Norwich. With the release of nominated persons on Monday April 9th, here’s a breakdown of Wards A – M with predicted outcomes to keep you all abreast of what’s to come in this Fine City. Continue Reading

PREVIEW: NORWICH CITY COUNCIL’S MAY ELECTIONS

world votes radical

by Anonymous

This year, thirteen out of Norwich’s thirty-nine council seats will be up for election on May 3rd in thirteen different wards across the city. The big four parties (Conservatives, Greens, Labour and Lib Dems) are expected to be contesting every seat, possibly alongside some independent candidates. Labour are currently the largest party with twenty-six of the total seats and run the council with a comfortable majority of councillors. In opposition to them are the Green Party with ten seats, and the Liberal Democrats with three in total. The Conservatives currently have no councillors on Norwich City Council.

The four different parties will have four very different set of objectives and aims, with hopes of defences and gains mixed in with aspirations of breakthrough success for some here in Norwich.Continue Reading

THE VITALITY OF INDIE & STUDENT EXHIBITIONS

by Laura Potts

The noteworthy Norwich art scene is home to many small gallery-like spaces that have a fast and frequent turnover of shows. Spaces such as Yallops, Nunns Yard and Studio 20 are home to a diverse spectrum of work, and as we enter the spring months they have become hives of activity swarming with artists and viewers. These spaces are important, vital – the work and people they house are integral to cultural independence in the city.

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IT’S GOOD TO SPEAK EVEN IF NOBODY IS LISTENING – AN INTERVIEW WITH THE HANDSOME FAMILY

by Lewis Martin

On March 20th I had the pleasure of interviewing The Handsome Family as a part of their tour for the 20th anniversary of their album Through the Trees. I interviewed Rennie Sparks, half of the band’s duo, about the difference the band offers from the usual Americana band (and if they are even an Americana band), what it’s like releasing music under your own label, and if being in the spotlight makes their message more powerful.Continue Reading

THE ONLY WAY WE KNEW HOW TO DO IT WAS THE WAY THAT WE DID IT – AN INTERVIEW WITH THE BELLRAYS

by Rowan Gavin 

Since their formation in the early ‘90s, Californian Rock & Rollers The BellRays have befuddled the expectations of music media and the industry, just as much as they have thrilled audiences. They’ve taken an open-minded approach to the genre that has defined American music for the past seven decades, and they’ve been an independent outfit that whole time.

The BellRays have self-published their nine albums through a variety of independent labels, including Upper Cut and Alternative Tentacles. 2017 saw the release of EP Punk Funk Rock Soul vol 1, the long-awaited follow up to 2010’s Black Lightning, and last month gave us the album-length Punk Funk Rock Soul vol 2. I caught up with Lisa Kelaula & Bob Vennum, the band’s permanent members, before they went on stage at Norwich Arts Centre last Friday.Continue Reading

WHO GIVES A HOOT? THE CLOSURE OF THE OWL SANCTUARY

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by Sara Harrington

As The Owl looks set to close once more, I took a look at the history of the iconic venue and where its closure would leave the Norwich DIY scene.

The chaos and hubbub spill out to the quiet back streets of that historic mound by the castle. Red paint, skate decks and Antifa flags adorn the walls, and a rotating crowd of faces mill around the bar inside. The air is joyous and muskily sweet with the smell of human sweat, stained beer and crust punk looming miasmic and familiar. In some way or another, I know everyone in this room.

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AN OPEN LETTER TO STEVE DOWNES, EDP.

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by Eli Lambe 

No, Soup Kitchens are not making Norwich’s “Homelessness problem” worse. It might seem that way to you, if you’re used to brushing the vulnerable off and not having to see the reality of more and more people’s lives. The easy solution – and the one that your newspaper and the local police like to peddle – is to force rough sleepers and vulnerable people out to the fringes of the city, where they’re cut off from their community and support and, most importantly it seems, you don’t have to see them.

What makes you think that your walking past the Haymarket every so often qualifies you to write about the lives of the people in the queue?Continue Reading

CORBYN AND BREXIT: BETTER OFF STAYING QUIET?

by James Anthony

Having initially been amused at Labour’s new policy on Brexit being described as ‘Evolution not Revolution’ – a line straight out of the first episode of I’m Alan Partridge – I found it interesting that many news sites and papers were suggesting that Jeremy Corbyn will use a speech on Monday to bring a little more clarity over his party’s position on Brexit. Much like Alan, Corbyn will want to be seen to ‘evolve not revolve’, but one thing has been increasingly clear over the past year or so –  Labour’s lines of attack on the government have certainly not ‘revolved’ around Brexit.

Many have accused Labour of being unclear or rather ambivalent about their stance on the UK leaving the European Union. However, electorally at least, this has worked very well for the Labour party and I believe it would be a mistake for them to deviate from this stance.Continue Reading

AN OPEN LETTER TO VICE CHANCELLOR DAVID RICHARDSON AND THE UEA EXECUTIVE

We the undersigned are writing to complain about the mistreatment of the university’s staff, and the fact that their mistreatment has led to such a major impact on our education. We wholeheartedly believe that the staff are the greatest asset to the university. The fact that they have been forced to take strike action shines a harsh light on the lack of care UEA’s executive and you, our Vice Chancellor, have for university staff.Continue Reading

FROM PRISON TO PODIUM

by David Breakspear

Saturday the 10th Feb 2018, a day that I will always remember. I had been invited to speak in relation to prison education and the arts. I was speaking to an audience alongside Jacob Huntley, a lecturer in English literature and creative writing from the UEA. I met Jacob whilst I was a serving prisoner at HMP Norwich. One of my roles at HMP Norwich was as an education mentor and I was told that there would be a new creative writing course starting, which would be facilitated by Jacob. I have always found that penning emotions onto a piece of paper allowed me to free my mind.Continue Reading

INTO THE TARDIS – CHAPEL BREAK SCHOOL’S PHILOSOPHICAL CREATIVE PROGRAMME

by Laura Potts

The TARDIS programme at Chapel Break Infant School is an exemplary example of creative education and an inspirational learning environment. For 10 years, the programme has transformed classrooms into imaginative environments for young minds to explore and develop in. TARDIS stands for ‘Thinking Arts Reflective Dialogue Imagination Studio’. The aim of its resourceful staff is to immerse the children in philosophical and creative enquiry:

‘The learning consists of the development of a range of skills, including speaking and listening, debate and discussion, a variety of thinking skills, social skills, independence of thought and action and persistence. It builds a knowledge and experience of the visual arts beyond those that can be offered within the usual classroom setting.’

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AUDACIOUS SOLIDARITY – TWISTED EAST BENEFIT GIG, GRINGOS, FEB 3RD

by Tim Forster

Content warning: mentions domestic abuse, violence against women, violence against children

Twisted East Promotion have teamed up with Punk 4 The Homeless to put on a benefit gig at Gringos, Prince of Wales Road, Norwich on 3rd February 2018. The gig will raise money for local Women’s Refuges, Leeway Domestic Violence and Abuse Services and Punk 4 The Homeless, who support homeless children in Central America.

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WHO IS STANDING UP FOR FOOTBALL FANS?

by James Anthony

Earlier this week, Norwich City Football Club announced that they would be moving young season ticket holders and their accompanying adults out of their seats over safety concerns caused by supporters standing up during matches. Fans are not permitted to stand in seating areas of the stadium, and the club is responsible for enforcing this. This latest move has come as advice from a safety advisory group, who warns that the club could face their stadium capacity being reduced if fans continue to stand up during games. Safety must be the number one concern at football matches, but there have to be better options in the long term than displacing young fans who are being moved through no fault of their own.Continue Reading

A CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A REST?

by Alice Thomson

So much has happened in only a few months, for me personally as well as globally – let’s be honest, the the past year’s events in the United States of America alone of the past year would be tough to sum up in a 1,000 word article. I don’t think I could do justice to the topic.  As this is my first article in a while, I thought I’d focus on what I’ve been up to, to give you an idea of the reasons for my absence the last few months.Continue Reading

THE CASE FOR A ‘NORWICH POUND’

by Oliver Steward

The concept of a local currency is one way to encourage people to go to the high street through a creative use of supply side economics.  A local currency would enable towns and cities across the country to stimulate economic activity in their floundering high streets. We need to encourage small business activity during this time of economic uncertainty, as small and micro businesses encourage entrepreneurship and form the backbone of our economy. Independent shops give our high street character and provide an incentive for people to visit our historic towns. The so-called ‘Death of the High-street’ is not just about national chains relocating, but the closure of small businesses. The use of a local currency would help reinvigorate it.Continue Reading

REVIEW: MILK – AN ANTHOLOGY OF EROTICISM, BY SALO PRESS

by Laura Potts

Salò Press is a Norwich-based independent publisher of poetry, prose and experimental writing. The surreal nature of much of the work by the imprint allows a new ground for experimental writing, and the eventual outcomes that follow. Their most recent book  – MILK: an anthology of eroticism – has just been published and I have the pleasure of reviewing the work.

The first thing evident within MILK is the importance of independent publishing as an arena to allow a multitude of voices, as there is a very broad range of writers with varied backgrounds and circumstances included. It shows a much wider cross section of society, and the creative work embodies that greatly: we find a freedom to pen emotions so strong that you wouldn’t initially think literary testimony could do them justice. Writers such as Jessica Rhodes, Rosie Quattromini, and Jane Jacobs have done just that.Continue Reading

UEA: BANKING ON IMMORALITY

by Lewis Martin

If it’s not one thing it’s another with UEA. Weeks after their announcement that they’ve finally divested from fossil fuel companies, People and Planet UEA have discovered that the university has nearly £23 million invested with Barclays Bank. This won’t be particularly surprising to most – there is a branch on campus after all – but it shows the university’s ongoing decision to disregard the unfolding environmental and ethical situation of the world it operates in.

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POOR SOCIAL MOBILITY SHOULDN’T BE NORMAL FOR NORFOLK

by James Anthony 

Sadly, it may come as no surprise that earlier this week a government report revealed that Norfolk is one of the worst areas in the country for social mobility. Often stereotyped as a rural backwater and with a disappointingly spot on reputation for appalling educational standards and failing children’s services in recent years, it is awful that the government appear to be finding this acceptable and are not increasing funds for social mobility in our county.

While it is unfortunately not too surprising that rural Norfolk isn’t great for social mobility, the equally poor ranking for the city of Norwich will shock many. Our fine city is often hailed as some sort of utopia, full of educated professionals, left wing representation and a good jobs market, but the embarrassing fact is that Norwich isn’t always as perfect as we think. Outside of the affluent city centre and Golden Triangle, there are areas of real deprivation – and no serious attempt by our Tory government is being made to fix this.Continue Reading

REVIEW: A HOPE ON THE WALL

by Eli Lambe

Almost exactly one year ago, I attended a conference at UEA on ‘hybrid writing’, organised by Seam Editions. The last presentation before lunch absolutely captured the theme of the conference. Anna Metcalfe presented ‘I hope to Show’, or the Last Thing out of Pandora’s Box, a creative-critical reflection on academic writing, optimism and Hesiod. Last Tuesday, in an unassuming brown padded envelope, my advance copy of A Hope on The Wall arrived. I keep describing it to myself as “a beautiful little book” and it truly is;  Francesca Romano has done an amazing job of making a deceptively minimalist-looking home for a complex and engaging read.  I can see it conveniently sitting inside my notebook, ready for me to dive into whenever doubt sets in.

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THE LIVING WAGE NORWICH CAMPAIGN

by Nicholl Hardwick

What is the Living Wage Norwich Campaign? Why is it important? What are its benefits to individuals, companies and society? What are our hopes with the Living Wage Norwich Campaign and why does it apply to students too?

These are just some of the many questioned asked in reference to the Living Wage Norwich campaign. I am here to answer and explain those questions and get you involved in Living Wage Week which will  be running from 6th -11th of November.  Continue Reading

THE UNDERCROFT – ART, SPACE AND POWER

by Laura Potts

Artistic culture and practice has changed drastically over the past few centuries. From Renaissance painting and its high-minded focus on aesthetic and documentary purpose, to the eruption of absurdist Dada work in 1915, to the stark political statements of much modern art. The aesthetics of art and its chosen themes are not the only thing that has changed though; the spaces where we encounter art have also transformed.

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PUNK 4 THE HOMELESS

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by Tim Forster

Punk 4 The Homeless has been busy raising money for homeless children in Central America since January 2010. They’ve been doing this through a variety of gigs throughout any given year and with a monthly Benefit Gig at the Sumac Centre in Nottingham. The monies raised are channelled through Compass Children’s Charity which started as Casa Alianza UK in February 1999 to raise funds for programmes in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

Casa Alianza was founded in 1981 in response to the senseless death of one child – 13-year-old Nahamán Carmona López – a street child kicked to death in Guatemala City by four police officers who found him sniffing glue on the streets to combat his wracking hunger pains. This incident lies behind the P4TH slogan, ‘Stopping Cops Killing Kids Is Punk Rock’.Continue Reading

NORWICH: NO LONGER CUTTING THE MUSTARD?

by James Anthony

It has been suggested that the world famous Colman’s brand may soon break with a tradition more than 200 years old, of producing mustard and other products here in Norwich. Make no mistake – this is not nearly as trivial as it sounds, and would be nothing short of a local tragedy.

This may seem exceptionally daft, but Colman’s has so much history here in Norwich, it is tough not to be upset by this news.  Colman’s Mustard has been based in Norfolk since 1814 when Jeremiah Colman formally set up his mustard and flour business in Stoke Holy Cross, just outside of the current Norwich city boundary. Later, Jeremiah Colman’s great-nephew Jeremiah James Colman established the production factory in Norwich in 1858, which still exists today. With business booming, royal approval was gained in 1866 with the granting of a Special Warrant as manufacturers to ‘Her Majesty the Queen Victoria’, helping our local mustard gain a global reputation and put Norwich on the culinary world stage.Continue Reading

REES-MOGG: NOT TO BE UNDERESTIMATED

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by James Anthony

Content warning: article mentions homophobia, religion, Trump, and Farage. 

Earlier this week, many of us watched on in horror as one of our potential Prime Ministers spouted his frankly archaic, illiberal views on Good Morning Britain. I thought to myself that alongside all the atheists, progressives and liberals of the UK, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s spin doctors and supporters must also be holding their head in their hands. His interview would have been seen by a large number of people and the further press coverage was extensive – surely this was the death blow to any leadership ambitions.

I suppose I have a lot of faith in our electorate and like to think that outing yourself as anti-choice, homophobic, and quite frankly medieval, on national television would ruin your political career.Continue Reading

WORDS WITH FRIENDS II – CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

by Billy Pilgrim With The Heartsease Kid

Are you looking for a way to get your voice heard? Do you have a book of poems on your bedside table that nobody ever reads? Isn’t it time somebody listened to you?

If you answered yes to any  of these questions then you may be suitable for “Words w/ Friends Vol II”.

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REVIEW: BRIDGES @ SPACE STUDIOS NORWICH

by Laura Potts

‘If anything, art is…about morals, about our belief in humanity.
Without that, there simply is no art’

Ai Weiwei

Norwich’s own Space Studios hosted Bridges, a fascinating exhibition by artists Marcia X and Karis Upton, earlier this month. Entering through a small alley, I climb stairs up to the first few works, which I find in a dark setting, immersing me in the exhibition. Up another staircase, long enough for me to begin reflecting on what I’ve seen, is a much lighter space, with works hung from the sloped ceiling. Afterward, I’ll go on reflecting for some time – the themes and issues that Bridges explores are of such magnitude that every viewer is forced to sit up and listen.

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A GOLDEN AGE FOR THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE?

by James Anthony

There are a lot of stresses that come with moving house. Earlier in August, I spent a fair number of days experiencing both as I shifted location in Norwich.I was making sure I had all of my belongings, desperately trying to cover up any damage or stains, and trying to work out the logistics of carrying my entire life from one house to another. The only saving grace in this process was the fact that I have only moved about five minutes down the road – across what is known as the ‘Golden Triangle’ – an especially desirable area to live in Norwich. For years, it has been considered one of the best places to be just outside the city centre, even gaining national coverage for its popularity. A reasonable judgement, to this day.Continue Reading

REVIEW: TWO LITTLE DUCKS EDINBURGH FRINGE PREVIEW

by Laura Potts

CW: Mentions violence against children

More than any other art form, spoken word performance art allows an audience to directly interact with the thoughts of the artist. This kind of interaction can often change minds more effectively than argument or statistic, making spoken word art a very progressive medium. As a spoken word enthusiast and an artist on a student budget, I was therefore excited to attend Matt Abbott’s pay-what-you-can preview of his Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Two Little Ducks’ at the Norwich Arts Centre recently. And my excitement was certainly justified – Two Little Ducks is a powerfully thought-provoking, politically driven work.

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IN FAVOUR OF A CYCLING FUTURE

by Joe Burns

This year, nearly £16m is beginning to be being spent on transport alterations across Norwich. This means new cycle lanes, junctions, and road crossings being built to improve road safety for cyclists. Part of that spending is funded by a £425,000 Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Grant to improve cycle lanes between the inner and outer ring roads. That upcoming cycle lane project is the latest of several efforts to improve road use for cyclists in Norwich, including £800,000 spent as part of the Transport for Norwich scheme to build a cycle lane on Newmarket Road.Continue Reading

THE PEDESTRIANISATION OF NORWICH CITY CENTRE

by James Anthony

I never thought I’d start off a serious article by writing about talking during sex, but here we are. It’s a slightly awkward subject, and one that the world of comedy is not afraid to touch upon. Specifically, I’m referring to everyone’s favourite fictional radio presenter, Alan Partridge, who is no stranger to the delicate topic of conversations mid-intercourse. I’m Alan Partridge brought to British comedy a very memorable line, during a less than steamy sex scene, in which Alan asks his partner just what she thinks of the pedestrianisation of Norwich City Centre.

Aside from being a line used as a sure-fire way to detect a fellow Partridge fan, those outside of Norwich may not realise that we recently celebrated fifty years since the first high street in the city became pedestrianised, and that the debate around the motorist vs pedestrian issue continues to rage on. It is very much to this day – as Alan himself would say – a ‘hot topic’.Continue Reading

WHY THE TORIES DON’T CARE ABOUT NURSES

by Lewis Martin

CW: death, disease, corpses.

Last week we heard that the number of people applying to become nursing students has fallen by 19% in the past year. As this is the first application cycle since government cuts to NHS bursaries, for many this will not be much of a shock. It’s clear that the government’s decision to take away this provision that allowed many students to attend their courses will have serious detrimental effects, not only for the institutions that train nurses but for the NHS as a whole.

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BEFORE THE FORUM: REMEMBERING A NORWICH TRAGEDY

by James Anthony

The Forum is often described as a key landmark of Norwich, a grand glass structure which stands alongside City Hall and St. Peter Mancroft Church, overlooking the market. Intended as a building fit to mark the turn of the century, The Forum was opened in November 2001 and has since become one of the main meeting places in the city centre, truly a forum for the people of Norwich.

Many of those meeting there – enjoying pizza, coffee and the various exhibitions hosted within – may not realise the scale of destruction and loss of history that took place twenty-three years ago, pre-dating the grand building we know today.Continue Reading

THE DIRTY PROFITS IN HOUSING

by Joe Burns

The Grenfell Tower fire has painfully illustrated how destructive and negligent council spending can be. The predominant cause of the disaster was that money was spent in the wrong places.

Almost nine million pounds worth of refurbishment was completed on Grenfell Tower by Rydon and many other groups in May last year (though the “successful” refurbishment of Grenfell Tower has disappeared from Rydon’s website). The work included new exterior cladding, replacement windows and a communal heating system. The bottom four floors were also made into new communal spaces. However, nothing was done to satisfy residents, even after years of complaints by Grenfell Action Group, about the safety of the building. The local council even threatened the campaign group with legal action if they were to continue their pursuit.Continue Reading

GENTRIFICATION AND DISAPPEARING NIGHTCLUBS

by James Anthony

In my first year of university, I had the pleasure to live on Prince of Wales Road in Norwich, one of the most dangerous roads in Norfolk and one of England’s worst drinking areas in terms of late-night violence. While it might not have been for everyone, I honestly loved the feeling of being at the heart of the city’s nightlife and counted myself week in week out as one of the thousands of club-goers descending onto the strip. For me, nightclubs are a way to relive stress, relax and enjoy yourself alongside scores of friends and strangers, and represent a sort of coming together of people of all different backgrounds to lose yourself in the dance.Continue Reading

CLIVE LEWIS MUST FIRMLY AND RESOLUTELY REPRESENT PROGRESSIVE NORWICH

by Joe Burns

Clive Lewis must enforce the views of his progressive Norwich voters in this time of social crisis and DUP invasion. Our capital city has suffered in the weeks since the election, more clearly defining the need for a fully committed left-wing Government to begin to enact real change and progress.

After both the local election in May and the general election earlier this month, Labour is now absolutely the most popular party in Norwich. Clive Lewis, Norwich South Labour MP, did far more than just hold on to his seat – he doubled his majority in the constituency with 61 percent of the vote. He blatantly took Green and Liberal Democrat votes as both parties suffered substantial losses, especially Norwich Green Party which suffered a drop of 11 percent. In Norwich North, Chloe Smith barely held her seat in Westminster. The Conservative MP took just 507 more votes than Labour’s Chris Jones.

It wasn’t a good election for those hoping for a future in which many parties contest seats and work together to represent communities, but with obviously increasing support from young and old liberals, Clive Lewis must absolutely continue fighting for strong and aggressive liberalism from Norwich when he’s in Parliament.Continue Reading

UKIP: THE ORIGINAL RADICALS

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by James Anthony

Following the recent elections both locally in Norfolk and nationally at Westminster, many of us will have been enjoying the demise of the entity we all know as ‘UKIP’ – the United Kingdom Independence Party. With many realising that their main objective of leaving the European Union has been all but completed, the electorate have decisively rejected their flimsy, populist, far right manifesto and consigned the party to the history books.

It’s hard to believe that they were ever a considerable electoral force, this year picking up just under 2% of the vote, losing all of their incumbent 145 local councillors and their only seat in parliament less than twelve months after their referendum victory. UKIP campaigners were keen to talk about voters returning to them, but this clearly didn’t materialise.Continue Reading

REVIEW: THE LIGHTHOUSE #15 – THE QUEER ISSUE

by Eli Lambe

Timeliness occupies this issue. Reflections on what queer writing has been and what it is now are shown through this collection to be vital, contemporary, and necessarily complex. The readings at the launch were accomplished, and the variety of writing spoke to the talents of the editing team in recognising and celebrating each piece. The pieces were arranged and selected to be complementary, to offer common threads and common goals, while still preserving the singularity of each piece – the queer writing here is collected as moments of solidarity, of community.Continue Reading

REVIEW: MAGNIFICENCE – EMBRACE THE BUTCHER

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by Eli Lambe

Crude Apache is a local community theatre company which has been running, in one form or another, for the last 24 years. They are committed to producing accessible and thought-provoking theatre, and their tradition of using non-theatre spaces for their productions allows for innovative use of space and setting. The industrial, bare-bones space of The Shoe Factory Social Club in St Mary’s Works played well with the theme of their latest production, Howard Brenton’s Magnificence – a timely, if sometimes surface-level, exploration of the 1970’s squatters movement.

The play touches on the rise of neoliberalism, state-sanctioned brutality, homelessness and the effects of state brutality in turning resistance into a determination to hurt, and hurt spectacularly. Directed by Tom Francis, this was a solid adaptation of the original, and very successfully captured the arguments we are still having – with ourselves and each other – almost 50 years on.Continue Reading

THE DECISION FOR PROGRESSIVES IN NORWICH SOUTH

world votes radical

by Joe Burns

Progressives in the constituency of Norwich South have a difficult decision to make tomorrow. It is a decision that has come up many times before. Do you vote for the party that you most strongly align with or do you tactically vote to keep Conservatives out? It might be that few in Norwich want a Conservative government in power, but is voting for a weak opponent to the Tories a risk worth taking? Aren’t Labour popular enough in the city to win without the support of Green Party or Liberal Democrat voters? Weighing those odds is tricky.

In many constituencies around the country the decision is relatively easy. There are dozens of websites that can quickly and straightforwardly tell you which party to vote for in your area if you want to vote for the party with the greatest chance of keeping the Tories out. This is the case in zones where Tory and Labour candidates score closely and no other party comes close to matching them. If you’re a small party voter then your vote makes little difference to the outcome anyway.Continue Reading

REVIEW: UNDERPASS – UEA UNDERGRADUATE CREATIVE WRITING ANTHOLOGY

by Eli Lambe

The Underpass Anthology launch was a real testament to the work and co-operation evident in the newly student-run EggBox publishers – a packed celebration of new talent and potential, and a true contribution to the uniquely welcoming and encouraging style of the Norwich arts scene.

The anthology itself worked in the same way, amplifying both familiar and new voices, and bringing them together in a truly collaborative and beautiful book. The experimental and the traditional complement each other, and every writer and editor involved should feel immensely proud of themselves.Continue Reading

FROM ADRIAN HOLMES, GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE FOR NORWICH NORTH

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by Adrian Holmes, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Norwich North

Having lived in Norwich since 1990 I’ve seen what Chloe Smith and the Tories have done to the North of the city over the last 7 years. The effects that she’s had on the north of the city and the surrounding areas are devastating and potentially ever-lasting. I’m running as Norwich North candidate for the Green Party because I believe that this doesn’t have to be the case. I believe that we can build a better, safer and greener future by unseating Chloe Smith and the rest of the Tories up and down the country.

Having been a part of the save Wensum valley campaign I have witnessed the effects that have taken place on the Norwich and Norfolk countryside. Under continued threat from those who believe that these places can easily be replaced, I have campaigned for the ending of building on Marritott’s Way as well as the expansion of the Northern Distributor Road through the area, which has and will destroy much of the natural wildlife in the area, as well as coming in at millions of pounds over budget.Continue Reading

REVIEW: TRUE STORIES LIVE – NO REGRETS

by Hannah Rose

CW: mentions of sexual assault

Think of your best friend, I bet they spin a good yarn. No doubt they think the same about you. The exchange of life stories is how the finest, most novel human bonds are made. It’s within these intimate, warm spaces where the stories of our lives unfold; cementing who we are, rooting memory, making kaleidoscopes of our imaginations.

This is the essence of True Stories Live—the invention of Norfolk producer Lucy Farrant and writer and host Molly Naylor. Continue Reading

VOTE PROGRESSIVE, VOTE FOR OUR FUTURE – STUDENTS AND THE ELECTION #4

by Lewis Martin

In the midst of multiple crises faced by students, universities and schools, the outcome of the snap general election will be a major indicator of the future of the UK education sector. Each week until the vote we are featuring perspectives from our regular contributors and guests on what the election could mean for students.

There is a lot of fear about the morning of June 9th. Will we wake up to a Tory super-majority that will see them stay in charge for the next 15 years? To a renewed age of cuts that hurt the poorest and most vulnerable in society, that disembowel the education system from primary to higher, and that destroy the environmental protections (or ‘Green Crap’) that will ensure that we have a safer and more secure future for our world? Or will the sun rise on something else? With the polls getting closer and closer, a miraculous Labour Party win isn’t off the table just yet.

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FROM RICHARD BEARMAN, GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE FOR NORWICH SOUTH

world votes radical

by Richard Bearman, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Norwich South

I have been member of the Green Party (GPEW) since 2003 and was elected as a Green Party county councillor for Mancroft ward in 2009, and again in 2013. In that time I, alongside the other county councillors in the green group, have managed to pass motions and lead campaigns that have benefited the city of Norwich as well as the Wider Norfolk Community. Our biggest success was the reversal of the decision to pursue devolution in East Anglia, something I heavily campaigned against.

I’m running in Norwich South for a number of reasons. Norwich is a fine city that I have lived in for over 30 years and I believe it needs the strongest possible leadership in parliament for it. This is something I believe I can do.Continue Reading

WHY I DISAGREE WITH THE ‘EXIT FROM BREXIT’ FLOAT IN NORWICH

by James Anthony

Content warning: article mentions suicide, and features a carnival float depicting suicide

To mark the arrival of BBC’s Question Time in Norwich on Thursday, a rather controversial float turned up in our city. Created for a festival in Dusseldorf, an impressively sized and eerily lifelike representation of the Prime Minister with a ‘Brexit’ gun in her mouth, was rolled around nearby streets to attract attention and to supposedly draw support for the pro-EU cause.

While I can appreciate the enthusiasm behind the protest, I can’t help but think it’s the wrong way to go about building a campaign focused on ensuring a future close to Europe.Continue Reading

THOUGHTS FROM THE FENCES – YARL’S WOOD & THE IMPORTANCE OF IMMIGRANT RIGHTS

by Lotty Clare

Content warning: mentions violence against women, abuse, rape, self-harm, suicide, racism, harassment, homophobia.

Last Saturday, a group of UEA students and Norwich residents travelled to a protest at Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedfordshire. This protest was the fifth Movement for Justice by Any Means Necessary (MFJ) has organised to shut down detention centres. As I approached the building, hidden inside an industrial estate, surrounded by fields, in the middle of nowhere, it was just as intimidating and depressing as 6 months ago when I went to Yarl’s Wood for the first time. It looks like a prison, except that it is ‘worse than prison, because you have no rights’, as former detainee Aisha Shua put it. Some women are in Yarl’s Wood because their visa expired, others because their asylum claim was unsuccessful. They have committed no crime. And yet they can be detained there indefinitely.

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FROM HUGH LANHAM, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT CANDIDATE FOR NORWICH NORTH

world votes radical

by Hugh Lanham, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate Norwich North

I would not have stood as a candidate in this election if I wasn’t angry.

I am angry about Brexit

I see real fear and uncertainty in people affected by Brexit. Those working in foreign countries, those selling their goods and services throughout the Union and those whose prospects are just ripped from them by an unknown future. I see real costs for all ordinary people from the devaluation of the pound, from inflation eroding people’s savings and spending power.

Most of all, I see few benefits from Brexit for anyone. There is, of course, no £350m for the NHS and, apart from ‘sovereignty’ which means we have all the same laws but with a picture of a crown on top, one of the most significant immediate changes is a bill of £100bn. But, I believe the Tories are going to blunder on regardless.

If we ever get the opportunity to reverse the decision to leave the European Union I would vote in support of that.Continue Reading

RUNNING AWAY

by Alice Thomson

I moved to Norwich five years ago. Well, actually, I didn’t move to Norwich at all. When I relay the story of how I came to live in Norwich I always jokingly say I came to visit and never left. For me Norwich was great – love at first sight. The reason why I came to stay in Norwich was a lot less great and a lot more painful. I came down for a week to visit my mother and celebrate our birthdays (they’re six days apart). I was living in Aberdeen at the time, so at the end of the week my mum drove me up to the Scottish border as planned. She was going to see friends, and I was going to carry on my journey from there. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. The prospect of continuing my journey filled me with crippling fear. It became obvious to my mum that I couldn’t go home. And so we turned around, and came back to Norwich. I ran away.

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UEA CLOSES COUNSELLING PROGRAMME

by Lewis Martin

On the 25th of April, Professor Richard Andrews, the head of the School of Education and Life Long Learning (EDU) at UEA, announced the closure of the university’s counselling programme. This means that all courses surrounding the subject of counselling, including a PG diploma and an MA, will no longer be taught at UEA as of the beginning of the 2018 academic year. Andrews described this as a ‘difficult decision’ resulting from ‘low demand for the course’. This closure is especially significant, not only to UEA but to the wider Norwich and Norfolk area.

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NORWICH GOES BLINDLY TO RED

by Joe Burns

In the county council elections that took place last week, Labour unquestionably took Norwich. They won twelve of the thirteen wards in the city. Although it is good news that the Conservatives continue to play no part of governance in the city, it is a sad day for true progressives. Voter turnout was a shameful 34.51 percent and the voting system we have means that even though more people voted against the Tories than for them in the county, they won the most seats. Obviously, as Richard Bearman (Norwich Green Party) says, we need a proportional representation system, but that is a matter for another time.

At county level, the Conservatives had a predictably great day at the expense of UKIP, whose past supporters seem to favour the dishonesty and intolerance of the current Tory government. Indeed, the views of many UKIP supporters have now been adopted by the Tories, most notable their stance on the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

Although The Green Party won four seats in the 2013 county council elections (all in Norwich), the defection of Adrian Dearnley to the Conservatives late last year meant that Norwich Green Party were left with three seats to defend in this most recent county council election. Unfortunately, voters seem to have turned away in favour of Labour.Continue Reading

TRUE STORIES LIVE: NO REGRETS

by Hannah Rose

True Stories Live is a beautifully simple idea which has blossomed since its inception a year ago. Each night promises to be engaging and entertaining, offering a storytelling space where the unexpected nearly always happens. The premise is straightforward, inviting members of the public to share their unscripted stories with an audience.

A theme is set for each night and storytellers are invited to workshops to help prepare for their performance. To date, themes have included: ‘There’s No Place Like Home’, ‘Forgive And Forget’, and ‘In Another Life’. A rich experience often including the intimate, the bittersweet and the darkly funny, drawing large audiences each time round.Continue Reading

CRAFTING FOR THE REVOLUTION

by Sara Harrington

Recently, I was asked to host a workshop for branch of the Norwich division of the Women’s Institute, ‘The Golden Triangle Girls’. Expecting jam, Jerusalem and jingoism, I was impressed by the diverse array of women that listened intently as I bumbled my way through a workshop about ‘Bee Friendly’ practices.

The group of women who swarmed around tables of craft materials and collected household items were varying in age, occupation and class. But most notably, these women were engaged in the activity. To some extent I had an inkling that the women I would meet at this monthly event would not be the conservative face that over 100 years of country fêtes and the 2003 blockbuster hit that was Calendar Girls had led me to believe. However, I did not realise just how radical a space the WI really was until I attended a meeting for myself.Continue Reading

FINDING YOUR THERAPY

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by Alice Thomson

When it comes to health treatments, people like myself will try almost anything once. And I have. Living with chronic pain, fatigue and joint instability as I am, I will do many things to seek relief from my symptoms. I’ve tried reflexology, hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, medication, TENS, reiki, acupuncture, chiropractics; the list goes on. All of them have their merits, but they don’t always have the desired effect.

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LOCALLY SPEAKING POLITICS: DEBATES MATTER

by Joe Burns

Theresa May has announced a general election that is set to take place on June 8. Some might say this is a bold move, a drastic U-turn that goes against previous remarks, though I argue it is only a cheap and damaging attack on a struggling opposition that highlights her opportunistic immorality. Of course, she remembers her promise to not call an early general election, but she smells Labour blood and cannot resist.

In usual general elections, leaders of political parties are asked to take part in debates with each other and the general public on television, sometimes live. I believe that live televised debates should be a mandatory part of every major election, especially general elections and local council elections. Live debate with unrehearsed questioning is the best tactic for accessing a politician’s true beliefs, as those that truly believe in what they stand for have unguided, spontaneous responses that show they’re the right people to lead the county. Theresa May’s instant tantrum about the idea of televised debates displays her complete lack of interest in speaking to the people.Continue Reading

GORMLEY SCULPTURE SPEAKS

by Jake Reynolds

give me a piss pot I’ll call it
sunset showers
you are what you read so I’m
Economic and Business History in Venezuela
does it feel like I am watching you
not go to a midweek lectureContinue Reading

CHECHNYA: NORWICH PRIDE, SOLIDARITY, ACTIONS

by Cherry Somersby

This week, Norwich Pride held an emergency demonstration outside City Hall to protest a new wave of abductions, imprisonment, and killing of LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya. Over 50 people gathered on the steps of City Hall to hear speeches from local activists, and to show solidarity with LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya. These acts of solidarity are vital, and it has been encouraging to see similar displays across the country, but our actions must go beyond this.Continue Reading

PAVEMENTS, POTHOLES, AND POLLING DAY

by James Anthony

Having been a candidate in a local election last year, I spent a lot of time telling people ‘vote for me’, and as a candidate again this year, I’m doing much the same thing. The more I think about it however, it’s the first third of that phrase that is truly the most important part, and although local politics may not be all that exciting – it is something that affects everyone – above all we need to convince people simply to ‘vote’.

Part of this is acknowledging that the majority of people don’t even vote in local elections, and far fewer get excited about them. It’s a huge issue that turnout usually sits at well below 40% in local elections, but an issue that is difficult to examine as a political activist. In the run up to polling day I am surrounded by activists who (quite rightly) put a lot of time and effort into campaigning locally, and the dedication of my colleagues and political opponents never fails to impress me. As activists, we have to learn to accept that most voters don’t get quite as excited about it all. We need to view things from a different perspective if we want to see why turnout is so low and what we can do to improve it.Continue Reading

CUT THE CRAP AND STICK TOGETHER: INTERVIEW WITH KILL BITCHES TO DRESS FOXES

by Tim-F

One of the bands appearing at ROAR on April 28th in aid of Norwich’s local Women’s Refuge, Leeway, is London based all girl H/C punks Kill Bitches To Dress Foxes.

I first came across KBTDF on one of those meandering journeys through the internet.. Previously known as Medication Time, this London based three piece is comprised of Ale on bass, Itxi on drums and Turko on guitar. With a variety of musical backgrounds and citing influences as wide as Municipal Waste, Emma Goldman and Andy Stanton, they kindly agreed to an interview about punk, politics and other stuff.Continue Reading

FROM UNDERSTANDING TO INTERVENTION – UEA’S NEW MODULE IN ACTIVIST CAMPAIGNING

by Rowan Gavin

I was recently excited to hear of a new module being run in the Politics department at UEA next academic year entitled ‘Activist Campaigning’. Module convenor Dr Ben Little was good enough to let me interview him about the course, its history, and his hopes for its future at UEA.

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ROAR: RAISING FUNDS FOR WOMEN’S REFUGES

by Tim Forster

Content warning: mentions domestic violence and abuse. 

As we know the Tories’ so-called austerity has been an attack on the working class — the economics of class war if you like —but cuts in public sector jobs, benefits and social services have hit women particularly hard.Continue Reading

REVIEW: THE ALTERNATIVE TO CAPITALISM, ADAM BUICK AND JOHN CRUMP

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by Laura Potts

On Saturday March 11th, I attended the launch of a fascinating new book from Theory and Practice publishing: ‘The Alternative to Capitalism’ by Adam Buick and John Crump. Many of us feel hostile towards capitalist structures. Being properly informed is vital to structuring our opposition effectively. I can heartily recommend this book as an addition to the education of anyone interested in the possibility of bringing capitalism down. Its content is manageable, it is inclusive not alienating, and most importantly it inspires hope in an alternative society.

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THE ROCK COLLECTION CLOSING

by Zoe Harding

Another week, another independent local store closing its doors for the last time.

This week it’s the Rock Collection, Norwich’s finest purveyor of black clothing, technicolour dresses and elaborate piercings (and a rather fine The Who Onesie, complete with furry collar). After 8 years in their shop on Lower Goat Lane and more than 30 years selling alternative clothing in Norwich, owner Murray Walker announced on Facebook that his store would be closing its doors on the 31st of March, and moving entirely online to their already successful website.Continue Reading

REVIEW: A BOOK OF FRAGMENTS AND DREAMS, REBECCA McMANUS

by Lewis Buxton

Despite being called A Book of Fragments and Dreams, the poems in Rebecca McManus’ collection are far from fragmentary. They speak loudly to one another and are rooted decisively in the people, places, and objects of her life. Unthank Cameo has released this collection posthumously after Rebecca McManus was killed by a speeding driver whilst waiting at a bus stop. She was 21 and just weeks away from graduating from the University of East Anglia.Continue Reading

WHAT IS CENSORSHIP? BOOKHIVEGATE, FOR FUCK’S SAKE

by  Zoe Harding

Content warning: Strong language, sexual assault, Nazi imagery, hazardous levels of idiocy. The following is the author’s opinion.

So this is happening. Now, like most people, I’m obviously not in favour of censorship. Or state-sanctioned drone strikes firing missiles entirely filled with out-of-date shrimp, for that matter. I believe everyone has the right to say whatever the hell they like, and everyone else has the right to punch them in the face if that speech advocates fucking genocide. Hello again, assorted term-searching wank sandwiches.

But sometimes, sometimes, I find myself out back filling a hollowed-out Hellfire with 2014’s prawns, because sometimes the story is a respected author picking a fight with a bookshop she’s apparently never been to because they don’t stock books by some random orange fascist cunt in a different country, and that, somehow, is ‘censorship.’Continue Reading

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONSHIPS: WHO ARE NORWICH’S TWINS?

by James Anthony

The idea of ‘twinning cities’ and forming links with other communities worldwide came about following the Second World War. It was seen as a way of spreading understanding of different cultures with the aim of lessening the risk of future international conflict. At present, twinned places are regularly used as opportunities for trade and business in the UK – but perhaps not justifying for many people the money spent on maintaining these friendships. However, with fear of outsiders and those different to us seemingly rife in the media and amongst public opinion, the bringing together and understanding of other worldwide communities seems an excellent justification for a twinning programme.

Norwich is currently twinned with four other cities across the globe; Rouen in France, Koblenz in Germany, Novi Sad in Serbia and El Vejo in Nicaragua.Continue Reading

TREATED LIKE ROYALTY — WHY I TRULY APPRECIATE UEA

by James Anthony 

In response to Lewis Martin’s article ‘Don’t Be Fooled by the Royal Illusion – The Failings of UEA.’

The Queen’s recent visit to the University of East Anglia was, in my opinion, rightly celebrated as a momentous occasion in the university’s history. I might not be hugely pro-monarchy, but I am definitely pro-UEA, and I could appreciate the enthusiasm and atmosphere on campus on the day of Her Majesty’s arrival. I followed the event closely on social media and thought it brought a sense of enjoyment and happiness to a cold January day, with large a crowd turning out to celebrate not only the Queen, but the university as an institution too, which was great to see. However, I found it interesting that not everyone saw it that way.Continue Reading

PUNCH NAZIS

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by Zoe Harding

Content warning: violence, neo-Nazism, the Holocaust, and anti-semitism. Article contains strong language.

I’d like to begin by showing you a video. It’s quite possibly a video you’ve already seen.

That man is Richard Spencer, professional neo-Nazi dickhead. The identity of the puncher is not yet known (and will hopefully remain unknown), but they’re believed to be one of the Antifa protesters from the day of the Trump Inauguration. Continue Reading

REVIEW: LUKE WRIGHT’S THE TOLL AT NORWICH ARTS CENTRE

by Hannah Rose

Luke Wright’s eighth solo show The Toll is a razor dipped in sugar: Ian Duncan Smith is a “jiggling tit” and rumour has it that a lion stalks the good people of Essex. It’s an hour of truth or dare, but not without the candid insight that self-reflection demands of performance poetry. Wright connects with his audience through just the right amount of personal anecdote tinged with good times and bad, and a generous scattering of cultural and political satire.

Brexit, Question Time and John Betjeman. It’s all in there. This line is hard to walk when it’s just you on the stage—too much waxing-lyrical about good times with your mates and you’ll bore your audience. Equally, too much of the dark stuff and the lights go out. People don’t generally pay £12 to be brought down by bad news.Continue Reading

NORWICH STANDS UP TO TRUMP

By Hannah Rose and Rowan Gavin

Last Friday, on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration as president, people gathered all over the world to protest against his message of division and hatred. In Norwich, 200 people came together outside City Hall to attend a rally of our own. As well as hearing speakers from several local activist and community groups, the protesters took part in a symbolic stunt, dismantling a wall and building a bridge from the parts. Hannah was there, and Rowan helped organise – here they give us their takes on the event.

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FOOTBALL: OUR BEAUTIFUL GAME

by James Anthony

So much is written about institutions which are culturally important to us. Visual arts, music and literature — to give some examples — are all vital art forms for Norwich and are rightly given a lot of local attention. They allow people to experience different aspects of life and opinions whilst inspiring and intriguing across the city. It can be a minor hobby for some, but a whole life for others. These arts enhance so many lives and need to be protected for the good of the citizens of Norwich. We often hear that arts funding and exposure is in a crisis (and this is an important discussion) but so is something else which I worry may be overlooked by the progressive media.

Football, while not exactly a form of art, holds many of the same characteristics as art institutions when employed on a citywide scale.Continue Reading

THE NORWICH RADICAL YEAR IN REVIEW 2016

by The Norwich Radical

2016 was a bleak year for many. Across the world, the forces of liberty, of social progress, and of environmental justice lost time and again in the face of rising fascism, increased alienation, and intensifying conflict. That notwithstanding, there have been moments of light. In the Austrian Presidential election, the electorate confirmed the independently Green candidate Alexander van der Bellen; the #noDAPL water protectors gained a soft victory in early December; in fact, there is a full list of positives from the past year, if you want cheering up.

2016 saw our team expand to more than 25 writers, editors, and artists as well as host our first ever progressive media conference, War of Words. Our readership has grown from 5,000 per month to more than 6,500 per month. In total, nearly 80,000 people have read content on The Norwich Radical website this year.

In 2017, The Norwich Radical will turn three years old, with plans to grow our team and publication more than ever before. We’ll also be returning to Norwich to bring debate and discussion on the future of the media, with War of Words back for a second year. Continue Reading

NORWICH HOMELESSNESS: NOT JUST A PROBLEM FOR CHRISTMAS

By James Anthony

As another Christmas passes us by, society suddenly remembers about the people living their lives on the streets. The cold weather and family focus of this time of year always seems to bring about fresh discussion, reports, and news concerning the issues around homelessness. Thankfully, much of the talk on the subject – especially on social media – is rather positive. This year I’ve seen a considerable number of friends and colleagues on Twitter and Facebook talking about admirable projects that provide food, care and company to those without a home during the Christmas period.

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ART OF NORWICH: DOING WHAT YOU CAN TO MAKE CHANGE

by Jan McLachlan

On a chilly December evening I went to St Margaret’s Church of Art in Norwich for the opening of ‘Enlightening the Eye’s Mind’. Rus Ki, the organiser of the exhibitions there, has a history of hosting thought provoking, inclusive exhibitions that are open to all artists and with no funding from the Arts Council or any government/corporate body. As Rus Ki says ‘providing our artists the freedom to articulate and express themselves however they choose’. This was no exception, with interesting and beautiful work by local artists, several of whom are disabled artists.

I was particulary looking forward to seeing (and hearing) Vince Laws’ work. Vince is an artist, a poet, a political campaigner and an activist. His politics often inform his artwork, but recently, as he says ‘I wanted something brighter to work on alongside some of the campaigning’.Continue Reading

REMEMBERING NORWICH’S REFUGEE HISTORY

by James Anthony

Earlier in the summer of 2016, Norfolk County Council voted to continue their commitment to resettling fifty Syrian refugees around the county. The motion passed overwhelmingly, but the UKIP group on the council refused to support it, their leader claiming that “we have to look after our own first”. It’s disappointing that this sort of attitude prevails in Norwich. Those opposing the resettlement scheme may claim that refugees are hurting British culture — but to me, (especially in Norwich) it is in our culture to help those most in need.

Most people in Norwich may not realise just how much we have done as a city historically for refugees — and how much we owe them for our continued success.Continue Reading

FROM FLOODING TO HEALTHCARE, WHY ARE WE SO BAD AT PREVENTION?

by Olivia Hanks

Certain things are inescapable at this time of year. Overeating. Musical jumpers. Footage of the prime minister in wellies, assuring a street that’s under three feet of water that the government will do everything possible by way of assistance.Continue Reading

UEA’S BIOMESS – A DAMNING INDEPENDENT REPORT

uea 3

by Suzanne Jones

Further to my previous comments on the complete failure of UEA’s biomass gasifier at a cost of  £10M+ (incl. £1M DEFRA grant, totally wasted), readers might be interested to read the independent report from Adapt Commercial Ltd, commissioned by UEA in 2014, after they finally accepted that the project was never going to deliver.

I requested the disclosure of this report under Freedom of Information (FOI) regulations. Predictably, UEA fought tooth and nail not to release it, but were overruled when I appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Continue Reading