Manchester Friends of the Earth Spring 2022 Newsletter
Welcome to our first newsletter of 2022! And the first from the new newsletter writing team!
In this edition you will find updates on some of the environmental issues the group are involved in, including their wider societal connections.
Read about the background of today’s Policing Bill and the 90th Anniversary of the Kinder Trespass; linking a 90 year history for the Rights to Roam. Being Spring, draw inspiration from the Derek Jarman Pocket garden at Manchester Gallery, recently created by Manchester’s LGBT Foundation Pride in Ageing group; with plenty of tips on how to grow a sustainable garden on your own turf no matter how small.
And finally its Local Election Season. What are your candidates views on key environmental issues?
If you would like to find out more about the Manchester Friends of the Earth group, our campaigns and how you can get involved, then please check our events calendar for details of all our meetings and other events.
We’d also love to hear your ideas for future meetups and events – feel free to share your suggestions with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With best wishes,
Isaac, Tim & the Manchester Friends of the Earth team
What is going on with the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill?
Defend your right to protest.
Proposed changes to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill are in direct violation of our human rights, placing strict sanctions on the freedom of the public to create “noise” and “disruption” in the form of a protest. Proposed changes to the PCSC Bill were first introduced in March 2021, but the threat of changes that will criminalise peaceful protests is still relevant today and it is now the role of the general public to place pressure on MPs to veto these draconian rules being debated in parliament.
What has happened so far?
The PCSC Bill with new, stringent rules was first debated in parliament back in March 2021. However, it was in November 2021 that the government added further amendments to the Bill that would’ve imposed measures designed to limit, control and criminalise protestors. The new rules would give police the power to stop and search peaceful protesters without suspicion, instigate prison sentences of up to ten years for damage to monuments, and lawfully stifle protests deemed as being “too loud” by reducing the right to gather.
These new proposals were faced with great opposition and suffered a humiliating defeat in the House of Lords, with Peers defeating the government 14 times and rejecting the new amendments in January 2022. But it’s not over yet. The Bill will return to parliament for further discussion with the rejected amendments being put forward for compromise, or potentially even reintroduced in the future as a separate law. For this reason, Kill the Bill protests are still very much active across the country and it is important for the public to pressurise their MPs into opposing these changes.
Why are these being considered?
The new amendments to the PCSC Bill are being discussed in retaliation to recent protests such as those conducted by Insulate Britain and the destruction to monuments caused by BLM protestors. The protests, which were broadly condemned and labelled as heavily disruptive, inspired MPs to consider new regulation in order to crack down on the rights of protestors, control mass gatherings and prevent large scale disruption.
These rules are considered undemocratic and authoritarian since protests, by their very nature, are designed to cause disruption in retaliation to prejudice, high-level dismissal of public problems or failed leadership. If the chants, acts and messages of a protest are causing unease and challenging the public to reflect on the current state of affairs, that is a sign of an effective, well-designed narrative serving its inherent purpose. Punishing protestors rather than addressing the problems that have inspired public action is the hallmark of authoritarian governance. Sometimes, to be uncomfortable is to be in a growing state of awareness.
Who does the Bill impact?
The bill will impact anybody who involves themselves in the protest movement, as well individuals separate from a protest who happen to be nearby and draw the attention of the police. However, there were additional concerns that the PCSC Bill would have a greater impact on already marginalised groups, such as the lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities as trespassing is criminalised further, giving police the right to remove people from unauthorised encampments. The sanctions are also more likely to be used against Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, worsening existing tensions and deepening a lack of trust in the motivations of certain police officers.
MPs will confirm or reject the changes made by the House of Lords – the changes that removed authoritarian action against protestors. It is the intention of the government to reverse the defeats imposed by the Peers which would be a direct infringement on our human rights. Get in touch with your MPs. Write to them and tweet them. Highlight the will of the general public who stand against these terrifying new amendments.
More information on how to campaign against the new policing bill.
The Kinder Mass Trespass, Benny Rothman and our Right to Roam
The Kinder Scout Mass Trespass Group, 1932. (Credit: Stewart McLaughlin)
On April 24th 1932, Manchester activist Benny Rothman led a group of over 400 ramblers onto Kinder Scout, the highest terrain in the Peak District. This act of defiance against stubborn and often violent gamekeepers marked a turning point in British history which set the foundations for our right to roam.
Prior to this monumental protest, ramblers across Britain didn’t have the same rights that they do today. A small group of walkers traversing the British peaks could expect to encounter threats and often violent attacks from keepers. Frustrated by the limitations set by wealthy land-owners across Britain, Benny Rothman and the British Workers Sports Federation (BWSF) orchestrated this historic mass trespass which has since been credited with impacting 1949 legislation to establish National Parks, developing the Pennine Way and a multitude of long-distance footpaths, and establishing the rights of walkers to roam over open country and common land outlined by the C.R.O.W Act of 2000.
Though celebrated today, Rothman’s mass trespass was controversial at the time and represented far more than a demand for the people’s right to roam. It was perceived by many as a fight against class inequalities, pitching the hardships of the working class against the privilege of the wealthy who claimed exclusive access to the moorlands for grouse shooting and other private activities. Being of Jewish descent, Benny Rothman was openly anti-fascist, socialist and communist. His combined passion for the outdoors and working-class activist ideologies led him to various incidents over the years as he encountered problems with the police and struggled to find work during his younger years in Manchester.
The Kinder Mass Trespass wasn’t free from opposition. On April 24th 1932 hundreds of ramblers congregated at Bowden Bridge quarry before making their way up William Clough and facing the Duke of Devonshire’s gamekeepers at the Kinder plateau. There was a mild altercation in which one gamekeeper was injured, but the ramblers continued onwards. A smaller group of Sheffield ramblers had set off from Edale and joined the main group on the plateau. Hundreds of ramblers celebrated their success on the plateau before descending back down the peak where five leading members of the BWSF, including Rothman, were arrested and subsequently faced a jail spells ranging from two to six months.
Representing class struggles, the freedom to walk on common land, and the drive of Rothman who continued rambling into his eightieth year, the Kinder Mass Trespass is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2022. Below are a few of the ways you can get involved.
- Manchester Friends of the Earth is joining a ramble up Kinder Scout in celebration of this historic event on Sunday 24th April 2022.
- Patagonia in conjunction with CloudWater Brew Co. have brewed a Pale Ale to mark the occasion, Rambling with Reason.
- Catch the performance of Three Acres and a Cow at the Methodist Central Hall on Friday 22nd April – Details here.
“Three Acres And A Cow is a show that connects the Norman Conquest and Peasants’ Revolt with climate change and the housing crisis via the Enclosures, English Civil War and Industrial Revolution, drawing a compelling narrative through the people’s history of England in folk song, story and poem”
Derek Jarman Pocket Park
A new city centre ‘pocket park’ is paying homage to a legendary artist and providing inspiration for ways in which visitors can make best use of green initiatives at home.
April 10th brought a close to ‘Protest!’, Manchester Art Gallery’s latest exhibition showcasing the work of the late Derek Jarman; painter, film maker, writer, set-designer, political activist and, surprisingly, gardener.
When Jarman was diagnosed with AIDS in 1986, he sought solace in Dungeness, an inhospitable region on the south coast of England. Here, despite the extreme challenge of both the condition of the land on which he worked and the condition of his own physical health, he taught himself how to plant and maintain a beautiful garden at his home, Prospect Cottage. Eventually this garden became central to his own work and still now, years after his passing, it continues to be an inspiration for artists, writers, and yes, gardeners, all over the world.
This pocket park aims to be a place for the residents of Manchester to come together, relax, share ideas, and enjoy a taste of ‘immersive nature’. Where previously there was only bare stone, an array of flora and fauna now fills the space. Numerous planters cover all available surfaces and climbing plants are steadily growing up and over the pergolas. The volunteers worked hard to select plants that were not only meaningful to them, but also those that would thrive in the low-light conditions of Mosley Street and in the urban environment of Manchester city centre. Two new trees have also been planted, a Japanese acer, known for its ability to grow in the shade, and a silver birch.
Not only did the volunteers think carefully about which plants would go in their park, but through working with other organisations and individuals they also included in their design several innovative urban solutions to combat the effects of climate change.
This is most evident in the shelter for the park, which was funded by United Utilities and designed by multi-award winning landscape and garden designer Leon Davies. It features a sedum room mat, which provides an important microclimate for insects and birds, and also dramatically improves the water quality of any run-off rainwater, which can re-used to water the plants. The special rain-saving system allows water to flow from the sedum roof down a ‘rain chain’ into a planter at its base. Any excess rainwater, which in Manchester constitutes a large amount, is stored in a large water butt concealed behind the structure where the volunteers can fill up their watering cans as needed.
In addition, thanks to research from IGNITION living lab at the University of Salford, all the planters in the pocket park contain a technology involving a reservoir incorporated into their base which can capture and store excess rainwater not landing on the sedum roof. Then, in rare Manchester dry periods the plants are able to draw on this and take up any water they may need.
The project may be over, but this pocket park is only just getting started. As Lawrie Roberts, Pride in Ageing Manager at the LGBT Foundation said, “As we all know, a gardener’s job is never done, and now the garden is finished, our volunteers will be staying on to help maintain the garden through the seasons.”
Following in the footsteps of Derek Jarman and his Prospect Cottage Garden, these volunteers have shown that no matter what challenges or difficult conditions may stand in the way, we can all create and tend to our own little slice of nature. From windowsill to wasteland, each plot of earth has the potential for life to flourish.
For information on how you can create your own sustainable garden, see the following resources:
- Tree hugger – My Sustainable City Garden
- The Middle Sized Garden – How to create an easy sustainable garden
- The Microgardener – Sustainable garden design tips
For more information on the Derek Jarman Pocket Park, see:
- The Derek Jarman pocket park – Manchester Art Gallery
- Spring is in the Air – Derek Jarman inspired pocket park at Manchester Art Gallery
- Let’s get botanical together – Derek Jarman pocket park – GMCVO
Greater Manchester Local Elections #LE2022
On 5th May, people in Greater Manchester have the opportunity to vote for the local councillors to represent them. The local councillors elected will have to implement solutions to meet the many urgent social and environmental challenges during the next 5 years and beyond. These include rising energy and transport costs, illegal levels of air pollution, traffic congestion, ill health, low levels of physical activity and the urgent need to drastically reduce climate-wrecking emissions.
Results will be published on our website so that voters can know where candidates stand on key environmental issues that will affect all our lives.
Check our website pages and social media platforms over the next few weeks for updates. Want to encourage your candidates to take part? Please feel free to send them a reminder !