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Posted on 5 February 2010 at 20:25 GMT

Defend free speech: mass campaign stall to challenge council clampdown

Trade unionists, socialists, and local activists will defy Waltham Forest council's clampdown on campaigners tomorrow 12 noon Walthamstow central (Saturday 6 February) in a show of strength to defend the right to free speech and freedom of assembly.

For over twenty years Socialist Party members, trade unionists and community campaigners in Waltham Forest have stood out and fought against cuts, privatisation and the corporatisation of public services. Over 15 public buildings have been closed, sold off or privatised. Now three Socialist Party campaigners have been threatened with hefty 500 fines for setting up a campaigning stall in Walthamstow town square.

Linda Taaffe, Walthamstow Socialist Party chair added: "London now feels increasingly like San Paolo, with private enterprise dominating our public spaces. The authorities and police are behaving more like those in a Latin American dictatorship in a clampdown designed to sweep all opposition from the streets of the borough. But we will challenge this."

Sarah Sachs-Eldridge, Walthamstow Socialist Party secretary said: "A recent Independent Panel Report revealed that the privatisation schemes this council is addicted to are rotten. they have been exposed as undemocratic and lacking in transparency. Hundreds of thousands of pounds are unaccounted for. If a council worker was found guilty of such crimes they would be disciplined and sacked or jailed. Not so, it seems, if you are a senior officer or politician. Now we are being harassed for calling for a public enquiry into this rotten council. We will not be silenced!"

This clampdown is a malicious attempt to silence a vibrant opposition who has consistently opposed land losses and corporatisation of public services and spaces and, more importantly, has been proved correct for defending the resources of the borough.

The Socialist Party initiated a lively public meeting of over 50 local activists on 28 January decided to launch the 'campaign 2 Campaign' and to enact a mass gathering on 6 March in Walthamstow town square. The different groups will set out their stalls and defy this attempt to silence legitimate campaigning. (see attached)

Since then letters threatening the fines have been hand-delivered by the Environmental crime enforcement officer so the campaign has been stepped up. We will not be silenced and we urge as many people to come and show their support on Saturday 6 February and Saturday 6 March.

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