Paul Blomfield MP protests against NHS bill in Broomhill

Paul Blomfield MP in Broomhill today

Labour MP for Sheffield Central Paul Blomfield set up stall outside Broomhill’s shops today to protest against the government’s proposed NHS bill.

In an interview with TGS News, he said that the bill is “going to cause enormous damage to healthcare in this country.

“It will lead to the privitisation of the NHS as we know it.”

Bill ‘deeply ideological’

Blomfield contends that the bill is largely ideologically motivated. “I think it’s joined up with a number of other aspects of government policy,” he said.

“It’s part of a vision which sees a smaller public realm, a smaller state, and the private sector being the key operator.

“It’s deeply ideological.”

He pointed to the state of healthcare in the United States to illustrate the potential drawbacks of private sector involvement in the NHS: “The wealthy in the states get the highest standards of care – but those people who lose their job and therefore lose their occupational health insurance will find themselves not provided for by the state.”

Thatcher’s dream

Also present was Broomhill Labour councillor Stuart Wattam. He said that the coalition are doing “what Thatcher only dreamt of doing in the 1970’s.”

Wattam also argued that the bill has been poorly thought out. “It’s just appalling really,” he said.

“They’re going to spend more than they’re actually going to save.”

Member of the Broomhill Labour party Val Binney was at the stall, speaking with the public about the bill. She spent 25 years working as a clinical psychologist at Sheffield Children’s Hospital.

She said she was confused by the coalition’s proposal to abolish primary care trusts as they have been functioning well.

On the bill, she concluded: “it’s become a matter of pride to push it through no matter what.”

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Petition to stop Sheffield’s ‘singing lady’ being deported gets over 800 signatures

The 800th signature - Corner: Gwendolyn Roomes

UPDATE: 16/03/12 – The Sheffield Star has reported that Gwendolyn Roomes has been deported. She boarded a flight from London Gatwick to the Jamaican capital, Kingston, at 12:15 pm today.

An online petition to stop Sheffield’s ‘singing lady’ Gwendolyn Roomes from being deported has reached 800 signatures. It has become the most signed petition of the month on Petition Online in under two days.

Roomes, 59, is known to many as Sheffield’s ‘singing lady’. She is a well-liked local who is often heard singing hymns on Fargate.

Detention and reprieve

The Sheffield Telegraph wrote on Tuesday that Roomes now faces extradition after her visa recently expired. Repeated attempts to renew her visa have been unsuccessful, and she could now be sent back to her home country of Jamaica.

Yesterday, the Sheffield Star reported that Roomes has been given a last minute reprieve whilst the Home Office review her case. She is currently being held in a detention center in London.

Roomes came to the U.K. to work as a supply teacher in 2002 through New Labour’s Highly Skilled Migrant Programme. She has worked in around 20 Sheffield schools.

Since her visa expired she has not been allowed to teach and cannot claim benefits.

Family ‘in shock’

Hayley Roomes is Gwendolyn Roomes’ step-daughter. In an interview with TGS News she said: “We cannot believe this is happening. We are still all in shock.

“She has followed everything by the book as the home office requested and still she’s been detained.

“We do not understand why they are treating her this way as she’s never done anything wrong in this country or even in her entire life.

“They allowed her to build a life here for almost a decade and then they stripped her bare.”

‘A decent, kind person’

Loxley resident Andy Wood, 35, is an aquaintance of Roomes’. He has created a Facebook page to rally support for the petition. He says:

“I’ve signed the petition because I think Gwen is a decent, kind person who has brightened people’s lives in Sheffield and she does not deserve to be locked up and forcibly deported because of a paperwork mistake by the Home Office.

“She’s played an actively contributing part in Sheffield life for 20 years and treating her like this whilst letting foreign criminals stay here because of their human rights sends entirely the wrong message about the sort of people we want to come and make Britain their home.”

The petition

Save the Sheffield Singing Lady on Facebook

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Sheffield students march on City Hall in tuition fees protest

Sheffield students begin march from Devonshire Green

Sheffield students have marched on the City Hall to protest against increased tuition fees as part of the National Union of Students’ ‘Come Clean’ day of action. The protest was attended by approximately fifty people.

Thirty-five of the protesters were students who had gathered on Devonshire Green at around 11:15 this morning. They were largely from socialist societies at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University.

There were also some students present from The Sheffield College.

‘Tory haters’

The students began marching down Division Street at 11:40 this morning, chanting: “No ifs! No buts! No Education cuts!’, ‘Education for the masses! Not just for the ruling classes!’, and ‘We hate Tories and we are the Tory haters!”

There were six police officers in the area, and the march was flanked by two officers on bicycles. The students marched to the bottom of Fargate and back, reaching the City Hall at around 12:00.

One of the protesters was University of Sheffield PhD student Mark Seddon. He commented: “I think the cuts increase the privatisation of education.

“We want people from all backgrounds to have access to education.”

‘Occupy universities’

Amongst the speakers at the City Hall was the further education vice-president of the National Union of Students, Toni Pearce. On the increased tuition fees she said: “This is the first generation ever to be worse off than their parents.”

She added: “£9000 is extortionate.”

Also speaking was the vice-president of the Young Socialist Students Society, Paul Lepper. He called for students nationwide to occupy their universities in protest of increased student fees:

“We should occupy universities and refuse to pay any fees at all,” he said.

“If the NUS won’t do it, we’ll do it.”

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Occupy Sheffield begin 24 hour pop-up camp

Occupy Sheffield outside Sheffield Town Hall

Occupy Sheffield began a 24 hour pop-up camp outside Sheffield Town Hall this morning. There are currently seven occupiers at the camp, with more said to be on their way.

The pop-up camp was rescheduled from last night after concerns were raised over safety and Occupy Sheffield’s image.

‘Disheartened’

The camp assembled at 10:00 this morning with three occupiers. Occupier Joe Everyday, 21, commented on the low turn-out: “it’s a knock down from yesterday.

“In the UK we don’t really do public protest,” he said.

Quaker Jean Wildgoose is a sympathetic to Occupy’s cause. She said that people are “a bit disheartened” after the eviction of the camp from Sheffield Cathedral.

Trainee teacher Sarah Wild, 28, looked hopeful as she assured her fellow occupiers “there will be people here later.”

Later

By 12:40 pm there were seven occupiers at the camp. They included 36-year-old Ben Jackson, the most vocal proponant of rescheduling last night’s pop-up camp.

Yesterday evening Jackson raised concerns over the safety of the camp given the rowdy nightlife in the city center. He also thought that dwindling numbers could damage Occupy Sheffield’s image.

Today, Jackson appeared ambivalent about the decision to reschedule. He said that he wished he hadn’t been as outspoken about abandoning the camp before finally concluding: “I feel entirely positive about the whole thing.”

An ‘idea’

Sheffield Hallam student James Exancopoulos, 20, has been with Occupy Sheffield since it’s inception.

He seemed unphased by the low numbers, saying: “Occupy is more of an idea than an organisation or a group.”

He went on to say that abandoning last night’s camp was “definitely” the right decision.

“We plan to camp every weekend,” he said.

UPDATE: Multiple reports indicate that Occupy Sheffield had packed up and disbanded by 4:30 pm on Saturday 10th March

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Vintage fair underway at Sheffield Town Hall

The Vintage Fair

The Vintage Fair is trading at Sheffield Town Hall today. Merchants from up and down the country are selling clothing and jewellery from the retro years of the twentieth century.

The fair is a business run by Sheffield’s own 28-year old Louise Whitehead. It started as a promotional event for her Sheffield store Bang Bang Vintage located on Westfield Terrace.

‘Genuine vintage’

After it’s intitial success, it was clear to Whitehead that the fair could become a lucrative business. That was four years ago. Since then, the fair has grown massively in popularity and now tours four times a year in 30 different cities.

On her success she says: “we make sure we have really good stock – that it’s genuine vintage.”

The shopping experience

Each vendor pays £100 to set up a stall at the fair. One such vendor is James Davis with his partner Shannon Carberry. The couple run eBay store The Vintage Scene from their Doncaster home.

Davis says that the fair allows his customers to have a better shopping experience. He says that the tactile experience of shopping is forfeited when you run an online store.

“People like to try things on,” he says.

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Occupy Sheffield abandon pop-up camp

Occupy Sheffield outside Sheffield Town Hall

Occupy Sheffield abandoned an attempted 24 hour pop-up camp outside Sheffield Town Hall this evening. The decision was made due to concerns over safety and Occupy Sheffield’s image. 

An alternative camp has been planned by the occupiers. They will gather outside the Town Hall at 10:00 am tomorrow and will camp throughout the day.

‘Zombie attack’

The occupiers gathered outside Sheffield Town Hall at 18:30 and began a group discussion shortly after 19:00. Initial optimism faded as occupier Ben Jackson, 36, raised safety concerns:

“Are we not vulnerable to zombie attack?” asked Jackson.

Worries began to surface that late night revellers could disrupt the camp’s peace. Jackson later told the occupiers: “with these numbers, I don’t want to camp.”

Out of the 10-15 people who attended the discussion only five or six were willing to camp for the night.

The pessimism amongst the campers was clear as one of the senior occupiers asked if he should pick up any supplies for the night. “People” was one occupier’s deadpan response.

A few hopeful voices proposed going ahead with the camp, but opinion quickly swayed towards abandoning the plans as Jackson suggested the low turn-out could damage Occupy Sheffield’s image.

Disappointment

One of the most outspoken occupiers in favour of continuing the night camp was 28-year-old Sarah Wild. She said that she was “disappointed” but she thought that abandoning the camp was ultimately “the right decision.”

“Our power is being fluid, able to change our minds,” she said.

Sheffield Hallam University student James Excancopoulous, 20, was one of the original occupiers outside Sheffield Cathedral last November. On the decision he commented “I was expecting this.

“They wouldn’t be able to sleep – they’d be scared,” he said.

A more hopeful perspective was offered by Jackson: “I think we’ll achieve just as much by having a day camp as we would have done staying over tonight.”

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Confident Drinkhall retains men’s singles title

Drinkhall celebrates after winning

English no.2 Paul Drinkhall has retained his men’s singles title at the English National Table Tennis Championships after defeating no.1 Liam Pitchford at Ponds Forge yesterday.

Drinkhall took the last four sets against the current English no.1, winning 11-4, 11-6, 11-3, 11-3 after losing the first 7-11.

‘Choy!’

The first game started with both players climbing steadily to 3-3, with Pitchford taking the upper hand, causing a panicked Drinkhall to overshoot on game point and lose 7-11.

But the twenty-year-old powered through the second winning 11-4, punctuating the winning points with his signature victory cry “choy!”

After losing the second set, Pitchford began to look increasingly uncomfortable. Yet another show of supreme dominance from Drinkhall secured the third set 11-6. An exasperated Pitchford then tossed his bat onto the table before turning to talk tactics with his trainer.

Drinkhall seized his new found momentum in the fourth, confidently winning the first five points with ease. Pitchford struggled to claw back just a few points, and gestured to the sky in frustration as Drinkhall took the set 11-3.

The English no.1 looked resigned to defeat in the fifth, shaking his head and laughing at his own errors. With a final “choy!” Drinkhall took the match 4-1.

‘Kept fighting’

Drinkhall commented that he knew his match against Pitchford was always “going to be tough.” He said: “I just kept fighting, found a tactic that worked and kept punishing him with that same tactic.”

A downbeat Pitchford reflected: “I’ve been playing well this morning. I don’t know what happened. I am tired, it’s been a long day.”

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