Well over a month since the launch of our campaign to keep Stroud Subscription Rooms in public hands, KOSP is delighted that Stroud District Council (SDC) has recently voted to opt for leasing the Sub Rooms rather than for a sale to the private sector. As far as it goes, this is a considerable victory.
[For the latest press reports, see the report in the Stroud News & Journal (13/12/17, page 5); and also their excellent editorial, on page 24 – “Now we must all support the Sub Rooms”.]
Since the end of October, when it was leaked that SDC Task & Finish group was favouring the Ecotricity bid, there has been widespread local outrage at this decision – concern that SDC clearly hadn’t anticipated, having been demonstrably shaken by the level of public indignation. This is something KOSP can confirm from the many hundreds of local people with whom we’ve spoken on our stall – which has been a fixture of Stroud High Street now for well over a month.
Our ‘Keep Our Subs Public’ petition has now been closed with signatures still coming in, with 2750 signatories on paper and a further 1472 on line, making 4,222 signatories in total as of 10 December, collected in just over a month. Hundreds of people also responded to the SDC consultation day at the Subs on the 18 November; hundreds more have written directly to their local councillors; and this great debate has been reflected in the press and on social media, even making the national press.
IT IS GREAT NEWS! STROUD HAS SUCCESSFULLY STOOD UP FOR THE SUBS!
HELPING TO SHAPE THE SUBS’ FUTURE
The people of Stroud can now focus on creating a progressive solution anchored in the diversity, skills and needs of our community. From our extensive campaigning it is clear that Stroud believes that through working together and collaboratively, we can meet the challenge of scarcity and austerity, making the Subs into a vibrant hub for arts and culture in the widest sense, for all the community.
KOSP is concerned about whether a 30-year lease from SDC the best future option. If we are to have another bidding process, how do we ensure that it is not divisive and wasteful? Why can’t we all work together to come up with one single bid agreed by all?
We need to help bring together those who were in competition, and bring into the discussions all those excluded by the previous bidding process. KOSP is committed to working hard to make a genuine collaborative approach succeed.
It’s important that everyone knows that the Subs is very much “open for business”, and that we use it to make bookings – and of course also to attend as many events as we can. They will now be taking bookings until the end of next year, so it would really help if we can all use the Subs as much as possible over the new bidding period.
Richard House of K.O.S.P. said: “It’s no exaggeration to say it was the people of Stroud ‘wot wun it’ – for if it hadn’t been for Stroudies rising up in huge numbers to oppose this privatisation, it would almost certainly have been driven through by a council besieged like all others by massive central government cuts and facing ‘impossible’ priority choices.
When communities and their councils are faced with the selling-off and asset-stripping of their public spaces and commons, if the people rise up in the context of a well-organised campaign, the privatisation juggernaut can be halted, and even turned around.
But this is no time for triumphalism or letting up. Our local success here in Stroud also gives succour to other local communities, reassuring them that they just need to find ways to hang on to their public spaces, buildings and assets until such time as a future government transforms local government financing and silences for good the ‘price of everything/value of nothing’ ideology that has so poisoned our lives under heartless neoliberalism and austerity.’
If you would like further information, please contact either Richard House at firstname.lastname@example.org., or John Marjoram on 01453 750962.