50-plus at new forum as Occupy Bath shifts within Queen Square
Around 50 people attended the first meeting of a new forum set up by protesters at the Occupy Bath camp in Queen Square.
There are plans for a second Bath People’s Assembly on December 15 after the inaugural meeting on Friday night, where subjects from student housing to Afghanistan were aired.
The meeting is being planned as the protesters who have been camped in the north east corner of the Georgian square since October 30 announce they are to move to a different part of the green area to avoid permanent damage to the grass.
Despite the onset of winter, the protesters – part of an international network of camps highlighting global economic unfairness – have no immediate plans to end their occupation.
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The People’s Assembly aims to promote debate and democratic action and the meeting decided to set up a number of working groups to look at issues such as housing, international relations and tax.
One of the protesters, who just gave his first name Dave, said of the first meeting: “We wanted to move forward and generate ideas.
“This way we felt we could be more direct and involve more people.
“I was pleased to see people give up their time to come along, and some very interesting topics were debated.”
He said that there were no plans to end the camp, and they would stay until they felt it was the right time to leave.
The 90-minute meeting discussed liaison with Bath and North East Somerset Council, which administers Queen Square, and whose cabinet member for neighbourhoods Councillor David Dixon visited the camp on Friday to express concern at the potential for damage.
The council has formally warned the protesters they have no right to be there but has maintained an arms-length watching brief, and has collected rubbish and recycling.
In a statement, the group said: “The Occupy Bath camp in Queen Square is currently undergoing some changes; we are moving the camp from its original position to a new one within the square. The reason for doing so is to cause minimum damage to the grass roots in the ground; if we continue to remain in the same place for much longer the grass will not grow back and will need re-seeding or turfing to restore it. Therefore this move is essential for the square, as we do not wish to cause damage to it and want others to continue enjoying it.
These are only early days for the Occupy Movement. We disagree that austerity is affecting everyone equally. There are better solutions to this crisis we all face, but first we need to be able to discuss and formulate a way forward for the benefit of the majority, not a minority.”
The group holds a meeting of its own every evening, to which all are invited.
The group is using a Facebook page – Occupy Bath Info – to keep people informed.
The provisional date for the next Assembly meeting needs to be agreed with the Friends Meeting House in York Street, which hosted the first gathering.