Nottingham’s Brit-African Caribbean Community send a strong message to Nottingham City Council about the value of the Marcus Garvey Day Centre Service.
A cold and typically wet April afternoon didn’t prevent over a hundred people marching through the streets of Nottingham city centre to protest against the closure or relocation of the Marcus Garvey Day Centre.
Despite receiving news on Saturday morning that Nottingham City Council had decided to withdraw its plan to relocate the Marcus Garvey Day Centre service, the Marcus Garvey Action Group decided against cancellation of the protest march which had been scheduled to take place later that day.
Leaving from the centre at approx 1pm around 100 (maybe 130) supporters led by the campaign organisers followed the route from Lenton Boulevard where the Centre which over many years has provided for the needs of the senior citizens within the Brit-African and Brit-African Caribbean community is located, into Derby Road and onwards through Long Row and the Old Market Square before arriving at the city’s Council House, outside which the demonstration would continue for a strong period of time despite the cold, wet and windy conditions.
Amongst the speakers was David Weaver who welcomed those gathered at the rally outside of the Council House to congratulate the Action Group for “doing such sterling work in getting so many people here.” before going on to pay tribute to the Windrush Generation.
“The Council are saying that they’ve reversed their decision.” He continued. ” They’ve made a decision to review the budget. But you know something? As the son of a Minister in God I trust, anybody else is on probation.”
Weaver warned the crowds against complacency and urged that they continue to lobby, fight and demand right through until the new administration is formed following the elections on 2nd May.
The current Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Health and also Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, is the Labour and Co-operative Party councillor, Cllr Sam Webster and one has to wonder how someone in such positions would allow the original decision for the relocation of the service to be proposed without a thorough consultation being commissioned in advance. But Nottingham is not the only local authority that can be accused of being found wanting where real engagement with its Brit-African and Brit-African Caribbean citizens is concerned and with much being said and written about how trust between people and political institutions is in decline the Local Government Association produced and published ‘New Conversations – LGA guide to engagement’ in 2016 which emphasised that local councils and, in particular, elected councillors – are uniquely placed to bridge that gap and start new conversations.
Nonetheless, the march in Nottingham was deemed absolutely necessary by its organisers and supporters amongst whom was Mrs Louise Lange, a 93 year old senior who was also invited to speak to the rally.
“I came here in 1957,” she said before describing her experience of being relocated from the Acna Centre to the Marcus Garvey Centre and the upheaval this caused her and her peers those years ago. She went on to speak about her early experiences of life in the UK saying, “If I wanted £10 I had to work eighty-eight hours. I used to work forty four hours for £5. So things change you know. I hope it will be better for this young generation.”
In many ways it is better.
According to the Office for National Statistics composite price index, prices in 2017 are 2,191.90% higher than average prices throughout 1957. The pound experienced an average inflation rate of 5.36% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.
In other words, £10 in 1957 is equivalent in purchasing power to about £229.19 in 2017, a difference of £219.19 over 60 years.
This alongside improved access to employment in the wake of the introduction of the Race Relations Acts of 1965, 1968 and 1976 have ensured that employers can not now discriminate as openly and blatantly as they could and did in the absence of regulation.
It’s slow progress but progress has been made. And yet, as situations such as the one that’s occurred in Nottingham demonstrate, there are many miles to travel before we’ll be able to say that we’ve reached our destination.
It makes sense that Nottingham’s senior Brit-African and Brit-African Caribbean members are little short of outraged, not so much by the original proposal to relocate the service itself but by the lack of discussion and consultation and the way the proposal has been managed and this comes during an extremely sensitive period of time when many members of the Windrush Generation are victims (some might say) of Government malpractice.
Speaking to the rally outside the Council House building Lee Jasper, who served as Senior Policy Advisor on Equalities to the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone until he resigned on 4 March 2008, said, “The Marcus Garvey (Centre) must be respected as an institution that belongs to one of the oldest settled black communities here in the United Kingdom.”
“How come every other community can get a Centre but when we want a Centre a rent them waan’ rent we instead a buy an’ give we di building? What I say is that the Windrush Generation contribution to the making of modern Britain much-less after the colonial and slavery that gave rise to the industrial revolution means that they should be giving you buildings, not taking them away. “
The Marcus Garvey Action Group are planning further meetings and have asked their supporters to be able, willing and ready for further action if needs be.