Four year's ago Romsey elected Dave Baigent as their City Councillor and he brought a new passion to the idea of giving Romsey a voice.
"On that night in May 2014 I was so proud to be elected as City Councillor for Romsey. Ever since then I have made it my duty to ensure that Romsey's voice is heard. I leave no stone unturned in my efforts to see that Romsey and our City get the best possible outcomes - I am available seven day's a week and even on holiday I deal with my emails as they come in. That is what I pledged to do and that is what i have done."
"Everything that I have done in Romsey and on the wider council is the result of belonging to a great team here in Romsey. Without their support I am nothing."
Some of the team at the Guildhall count - 0400 on the morning after the election in 2014.
Labour win the seat in Romsey by increasing their vote by 62.5%
Even before he was elected Dave had made his presence felt on the doorsteps and at the stalls held regularly outside the Coop. Labour's team in Romsey has continued this approach to representing their voters and are passionate about hearing what you want to say. From these street stalls and in our door knocking we make ourselves available to everyone in the ward. We also issue regular newsletters and Tweet and use Facebook prolifically. Through these forms of communications we have brought politics in Romsey into people's lives.
If you want to know what Dave is thinking about on a day to day basis, then follow his twitter @dave4labour
Dave serves on the following committees:
Dave is also Lead Councillor on the Private Rental Sector
Some examples of Dave's work within the ward.
Dave was involved in the development of, and continues to support the Edge Cafe. To show support for the work that 'The Edge' is about, Dave recently attended an event there to celebrate an exhibition by the Cambridge Community Arts Photographers Collective.
It was so wonderful to meet you and your wife . Thank you again for all your support and interest. It was and is much appreciated. Your wife's comments of how welcome and comfortable she felt was so much appreciated. I passed those comments onto the Edge Cafe too.
I must add that it is my first time of having a selfie .. quite an experience.
Romsey Labour Club
The historic building that was the Labour Club has come to symbolise Romsey's resistance to overdevelopment. After protracted negotiations with the developer we won the first round when the planning committee rejected the proposal. At the second hearing the developers won as councillors unanimously agreed to allow the development. Dave fought hard to support the over 100 residents who challenged the development on the planning website. Dave says
'They are now going to bury Romsey Labour Club under 'student flats' that are designed for post-grads. This despite Robinson College boarding up their post grad accommodation in Romsey Terrace because post grads did not want to live so far from their college.
I am lost for words. Well actually I am not but I have to be silent because I am so angry that Romsey Labour Club, a piece of social history, built by the people of Romsey is to be destroyed in order to make money for a developer.
It is my pledge to the people of Romsey that I will fight hard to stop any more speculative student flats being developed in Romsey and to contain the speculative development of other forms of accommodation"
Dave's spoke at the planning committee (after Andrew Clarke who made a massive contribution about why not to allow this development) in a speech that was interrupted by the Chair who insisted that ... well you see for yourself at this video link
Trying to save Romsey from Developers:
The way that Romsey is being developed, even over developed, is a constant discussion point on the doorsteps with Romsey residents. Dave is not a member of the Planning Committee, but he has, since he was elected in 2014, been the principal voice of Romsey when he has used the right of a Councillor to speak at planning meetings. One speech often labelled by local planning activists as 'Cambridge's despair' perhaps personifies Romsey's problem when Dave was appealing to the planning committee to turn down a plan for another HMO in Madras road https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLZM7i3SXZ4&t=17s
|After two years of negotiations, following earlier protest we managed to get an outcome that we were prepared to support. It may not have been perfect, but includes 40% social housing.|
St Philips School
The parents at St Philip's School were almost caught of guard by the attempts to academise St Philips School. What followed was a wonderful example of how a community can band together with politicians and prove that the voice of the little woman and man still counts. Below is the sort of look Dave gets when he knows he has been part of something special.
|"I attended the ad hoc parents meeting to challenge what appeared to be a done deal. At that meeting we managed to get an extension to the consultation period. I attended other meetings and helped to collect signatures for a petition at the school gates. I never believed for one moment that I was taking part in one of the best examples of people power that I have ever experienced".|
Plans are agreed for a small town square outside the Coop - this will be delivered soon.
|To celebrate the history of the work done by Romsey residents on the Railway, the renovation of the land at Mill Road junction of Cavendish Road will feature a bronze R. Dave first raised this before he was elected and we have now agreed plans for this work to be completed.|
Dave has provided a very real effort of support for the Chisholm Trail. This should not be surprising as Dave is an outspoken cyclist who each day cycles up and down Mill Road.
|As a member of the Fire Brigades Union since he was 18 Dave has a keen interest in supporting the UCU in their current defence of their pensions. Dave arranged for the Labour Group to send a letter of support to the Vice Chancellor of Cambridge University and spoke at one of their rallies.|
As soon as we heard about the plans to cut children's centres we quickly arranged a meeting with Romsey Mill and we were saddened to hear just how much these cuts would affect them.
Our response was to hold a street table outside the Coop highlighting what was happening and to provide information in our newsletters to rally support. We also contacted and met with our county colleagues who took the fight to a full County Council meeting. The libdems also joined with Labour in the challenge to the Tories but our joint efforts did not raise enough votes to overturn the Tory majority.
Pollution, Congestion and Parking
One part of Romsey has already agreed to become a resident parking zone. However, this is not without its difficulties as the gain from stopping commuter parking has also resulted in the loss of some parking spaces. When the consultation on the main part of Romsey starts then your councillors will be part of the public meetings that take place. We will need to be very clear about the limits to parking that we are prepared to recommend to our voters.
Dave represents Cambridge on the Police Panel. He is constantly arguing for a greater police presence throughout the City.
Because of the work Dave has done representing Cambridge on the Policing Panel, Dave has become involved with Cambridge Taxi associations.
Greater Cambridge Partnership
Dave represents Cambridge on this influential committee. Mostly Dave is concentrating on reducing pollution in the City ...
Dave represents Cambridge on the scrutiny committee for the Combined Authority. With the help of Rod Cantrell, Dave has set up a task group that will scrutinise the latest suggestions for a Cam Metro, part of which is proposed to tunnel under Cambridge.
Anti-semitism and the Labour Party (1) - Jeremy Corbyn’s statement
Labour Party members will already have received this statement by email. It is printed here for the benefit of other Camaraderie readers
Our Party was founded on the principles of solidarity and equality. We are proudly anti-racist, and at our best when we work together, uniting people in hope and against fear and division.
This week, Jewish leaders wrote to me to express their anger and upset about antisemitism in the Labour Party.
I want to assure you that prejudice against, and harassment of, Jewish people have no place whatsoever in our Party.
It's important to develop a deeper understanding of what constitutes antisemitism.
Often it takes familiar forms, but newer forms of antisemitism have also appeared, sometimes woven into criticisms of the actions of Israeli governments.
Criticism of Israel, and support for the rights of the Palestinians, is entirely legitimate. Support for justice for the Palestinian people should provide no one with the excuse to insult, harass or encourage hatred of Jewish people.
And abuse and personal attacks of any kind, on social media or in person, are never acceptable.
I am committed to ensuring our Party is a welcoming and secure place for everyone. I offer all Jewish members my assurance that this applies equally to them. I want all of us to hear Jewish voices and listen.
If you are not Jewish, I want you to better understand the importance of this issue and what we can do together to ensure our Party remains true to our values.
Zero tolerance for antisemitism means what it says. We will not accept it.
We have to get this right, all of us. Because divided societies cannot achieve justice.
As we head into elections in May and look towards the next General Election whenever it might come, let's take the lead in building a society free from prejudice. One that enables everyone to realise their full potential, and cares for all.
Thank you for supporting Labour.
Leader of the Labour Party
Anti-semitism and the Labour Party (2) - Jeremy Corbyn confirms that he is still looking to meet with the Jewish organisations that have criticised his handling of anti-semitism in the Labour Party.
Responding to a letter from the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies, Jeremy Corbyn reaffirms his determination to “address the anguish and distress caused to many people in the Jewish community”.
He accepts a “responsibility to give a strong and continuing personal lead” in the fight against antisemitism within the party and more broadly.
Corbyn goes on to confirm that he is seeking an “early” meeting with the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies to address the concerns expressed by parts of the Jewish community.
The Labour leader suggests that new general secretary Jennie Formby would “value being part of such a meeting”, and says he would place “no limitations” on the topics discussed.
This is the full text of Corbyn’s letter to the Jewish Leadership Council and Board of Deputies.
Dear Jonathan and Jonathan,
Thank you for your reply to my letter of March 26.
Let me straight away reaffirm that I appreciate and understand the anger you express, and reiterate my determination to fight antisemitism within the Labour Party and society at large. As Leader of this Party, I accept my responsibility to give a strong and continuing personal lead in this fight and – along with the General Secretary – I recommit to doing all I can to address the anguish and distress caused to many people in the Jewish community.
As I said in my reply to your initial letter, I would welcome an early meeting with your organisations to discuss the issues that you have raised. I am a strong believer that engaging in meaningful dialogue is crucial to finding effective solutions and resolving disputes and I am clear that such a meeting would be just the start of a fruitful ongoing exchange on eradicating antisemitic behaviour and discourse within the Labour Party.
It is my belief that such a meeting could easily be held without any preconditions, given that we are all on the same side as the essentials of the matter. In any event, my door will remain open to all Jewish organisations to discuss how to deepen our cooperation in the fight against antisemitism.
My offer to meet you unconditionally still stands. I place no limitations on the points you would wish to raise and am happy for the agenda to cover the issues you’ve already outlined. Our new general secretary Jennie Formby takes office today, and would value being part of such a meeting, as she will be taking immediate action to address many of the concerns raised around disciplinary cases.
I recognise the full legitimacy of raising concerns about antisemitism whether that is done by MPs or ordinary party members. I remain resolutely opposed to the abuse of MPs, or anyone else. While local Labour parties benefit from discussing current political concerns, such discussions should always take the form of comradely dialogue on understanding and compassion and should never be a forum for threats, intimidation or abuse.
Allow me to conclude by expressing once more my desire to cooperate with your two organisations in a spirit of partnership and goodwill to address the concerns of Jewish people in Britain, who will always be a cherished part of the labour movement and our wider national community.
Leader of the Labour Party
Anti-semitism and the Labour Party (3) - Jeremy Corbyn celebrated Passover with us. It’s a simple good news story, say Jewdas
Jeremy Corbyn’s Passover meal has aroused much interest, some of it ill-informed. Two days ago, the Guardian Online carried this explanation of what they are about by the organisers, Jewdas. As it hasn’t so far appeared in print, we thought Camaraderie readers might be interested to learn more.
As a radical Jewish collective, we were delighted Corbyn came to our seder. To claim we are not ‘real’ Jews is offensive and antisemiticWe are a group of British Jews who are deeply proud of being Jewish. We have always put humour and satire at the heart of what we do – because, frankly, politics and religion are far too dull otherwise. But don’t be mistaken: we are completely serious about what we do.
Since 2005, we have attempted to build a community based around activist, socialist and diasporist Judaism in the UK. While most of us are also active in our local synagogues and other Jewish cultural organisations, only together have we felt able to build the kind of freethinking, traditionally radical Judaism that is needed in the 21st century.
Over those 13 years we have held many events. We have hosted Rootless Cosmopolitan Yeshivas, and Jewish study nights, where participants learn about Talmud, philosophy, and Jewish poetry. We organised the East London Sukkah – a week-long festival in Hackney City Farm, packed with music, film and interfaith events. We coordinated a film festival at the Rio Cinema in Dalston, showcasing a documentary about the long tradition of Jewish socialist and anarchist activism.
We organised a concert of classical Judeo-Arabic music in a synagogue, harking back to a rich tradition of Jewish-Islamic co-operation. We have regularly called out, condemned and marched against neo-fascists, such as when far-right groups attempted to demonstrate in Stamford Hill and Golders Green. We have regularly spoken out against antisemitism on both the right and the left. We organise Friday night dinners, festival gatherings and community celebrations.
We created the organisation Babel’s Blessing – a radical language school that teaches diaspora languages and uses the profits to offer free English classes to migrants in the UK. And we have organised a large number of life-affirming and deeply Jewish parties attended by hundreds of young Jews and their friends – from the legendary Punk Purim in 2005, to our most recent Purim Queer Cabaret, only a month ago.
Many young Jews have told us that without our activities they would have left Judaism altogether, dismayed by strands in the Jewish world which grow ever more rightwing, closed-minded, and nationalistic.
We are one chain in a long historical tradition of radical Judaism, both in Britain and abroad. We particularly celebrate the heritage of the Jewish Labour Bund, the great Jewish socialist organisation that had a huge following in Russia and eastern Europe in the first half of the 20th century. Last night we paid tribute to an old Bundist friend – Chaim Neslen – who died only days ago. We hope to uphold the traditions that Chaim and others built.
One event that we organise every year is a Passover seder, demonstrating the importance this Jewish holiday has for all of us. We have always tried to blend traditional rituals with radical commentaries, following the traditions and practices of progressive Jews for well over 100 years. A socialist understanding of the seder is deeply in keeping with the traditional texts that we read, particularly the famous Aramaic declaration Ha Lachma Anya: “This is the bread of oppression that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat, let all who are in need come and share our Passover”.
Initially small-scale private events, these have grown every year as more people wanted to come, attracted by the joyful atmosphere, warm community and serious religious and cultural reflection. Around 100 people attended this year, almost all of them Jewish.
When this year a friend and constituent of Jeremy Corbyn invited him to attend, he accepted the invitation. He came, bringing horseradish from his own allotment for use on the communal seder plate (the horseradish symbolises the bitterness the Israelites experienced as slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt). He sat attentively through a four-hour event, agreeing gamely to read the Elijah’s cup section when asked. He participated fully, and chatted afterwards to many attendees. We were very happy to have him as a guest, and he was happy to join us.
In a normal situation, you might think that the leader of the opposition attending a seder with a group of 100 young, committed Jews might be a simple good news story. But if you’re determined to brand Jeremy Corbyn an antisemite, it seems that literally any story will do.
We have grown used to being smeared as self-hating Jews. But labelling us a source of “virulent antisemitism” as the Board of Deputies leader, Jonathan Arkush, did today is seriously scraping the barrel. The truth is, we love Judaism and Jewish culture, as every one of our events demonstrates.
The idea that there is a “mainstream Jewish community” is a fiction, promoted by a group of self-selecting individuals and institutions who have run out of ideas. There are approximately 300,000 Jews in Britain, with a huge diversity of religious and political ideas represented among them.
No single organisation can speak for us all. To claim that we in Jewdas are somehow not real Jews is offensive, and frankly antisemitic. Chag Sameach to everyone – wishing you all a happy Passover. May we use this festival to liberate ourselves from all oppression and stand up for justice everywhere.
Extracted from Guardian Online 3rd April 2018. Jewdas is a radical Jewish collective based in the UK