Saturday, 24 December 2016

Frank Swift's Christmas Day debut in 1933

Taken from my book on Frank, which is available at:-

Writing in his autobiography Swift recalls the excitement, ‘What a Christmas Day it was. I really began to believe in Santa Claus when I reported to the Exchange Station to join the party for Derby. Everybody was very helpful and understanding at my nervous excitement, and I listened intently to all the advice this great bunch of lads handed out.’ 

Derby were one of the best sides of the 1930s and possessed a fine attack – it later being argued that an emphasis on scoring goals cost the Rams a first major trophy – and Swift was set for a baptism of fire. 

Derby County: Kirby, Cooper, Collin, Nicholas, Jessop, Keen, Crooks, Groves, Bowers, Ramage, Duncan 
City; Swift, Barnett, Corbett V, Busby, Marshall, Bray, Toseland, Herd, Gregory, Tilson, Brook 

Referee: Mr R Bowie (Newcastle)

City, backed by a good number of fans, were to lose their second consecutive match, beaten 4-1. Derby’s centre-forward Jack Bowers had finished as Division One’s top scorer the previous season with 35 goals and he was to repeat the feat in 1933-34 with 34 goals. A powerful player he possessed two good feet and was a constant aerial threat. 

Swift was unable to prevent Bowers from scoring and blamed himself for the opening two goals saying ‘I did not keep my eye on the ball, because I was looking for Jack.’  The keeper appears to have been a little too self-critical, as the first on four minutes saw the County attack rip apart the defence in front of him to leave ‘the unmarked (Peter) Ramage with little difficulty in beating Swift’ (Derby Evening Telegraph 27 Dec 1933) 

With the Rams wingers, England international Sammy Crookes and Scottish international Dally Duncan, a constant threat the away defence was given a torrid time and it was no surprise when Bowers made it 2-0. City’s new keeper then made a fine save to deny the goal predator a second from a long-range effort. There was little Swift could do, though, when on the stroke of half-time Bowers made it 3-0 in a game watched by a then record Baseball Ground attendance of 32,786. 


On the restart a powerful shot by Ramage made it 4-0, but clearly determined to keep the score down Swift was in bravely at the feet of Bowers to prevent a fifth. For his sins he was knocked out, something that was to become a regular feature of the keeper’s career over the next 15-16 years. Leather football boots in the 1930s were much heavier than today, had metal studs or tacks hammered into the sole and contained a steel front toecap. A keeper kicked – accidentally or not – by a forward’s boot was much more likely to be badly injured and/or knocked out. Only the bravest could expect to make it to the top of their profession.

The crowd waited several minutes before the rudimentary treatment of applying a cold sponge to the youngster’s face paid dividends and he staggered to his feet. At 4-0 down a lesser – some might say more sensible – man might have decided to recuperate in the more relaxed surroundings of the dressing room. Swift played on. As a result he witnessed Ernie Toseland scoring Manchester City’s consolation effort.  

Swift’s first-team colleagues included Jack Bray, who a few weeks earlier had unknowingly met Swift as they both journeyed to Maine Road for a reserve match in which the keeper was making his debut.

The Blackpool youngster believed he had enough time to walk from the city centre to Maine Road. He became concerned after seeing fans jump on the trams, which were an important part of Manchester’s transport system until the development of the motor car led to a decision to faze them out in 1937. The formal closure date of February 1939 was however missed due to petrol problems for buses and it was not till January 1949 that the ‘last’ tram ran, by which time many lines were unusable due to the bombing Manchester sustained during the war. Trams eventually returned to Manchester in 1992. 

Asking an immaculately dressed stranger Swift was relieved to be re-assured that he had plenty of time, but after continuing walking for a while his fears returned. Jumping on a tram he found himself sitting next to the same stranger. A blushing Swift offered his apologies before the pair alighted outside Maine Road and went there separate ways. 

Well, not quite because when Swift entered the dressing room he found himself being asked, ‘What on earth are young doing here?’ He replied ‘I’m the goalkeeper, Sir’ and after a few seconds in shock left-half Bray introduced himself. 

Bray cost City £1,000 when they signed him in October 1929 from Manchester Central, a club formed by former City director John Ayrton in disgust at the move from Hyde Road to Maine Road. Bray was to play consistently for City in over 430 first team appearances and was good enough to play for England, winning six caps and playing three times for the Football League. 

Journeying home from the Baseball Ground, Swift arrived in Blackpool for a belated Christmas dinner, where he was joined by his brother Fred, by now a keeper with Oldham, as he told the whole family about ‘what I had done right, and wrong, at Derby’. Fearing he might not be playing on Boxing Day he left home at 7.15am for the 2.15 pm kick-off at Maine Road. With his family ‘as scared as I was’ his offer for them to accompany him was declined.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Fred Spiksley is sent off on Christmas Day

The Christmas period is one of the highlights of the football season as there is always fixtures galore. 

Christmas Day, however, is a football-free zone. Not so in the past and the final full league programme on a Christmas Day was in 1957 when Sheffield Wednesday drew 4-4 with Preston North End. Sixty years earlier in 1897  Wednesday played their first ever home League fixture on Christmas Day. 

It was against Stoke City and was at Olive Grove, Wednesday’s ground until they moved to Hillsborough in 1899. Fred Spiksley’s speed meant he was nicknamed ‘the Olive Grove Flyer.’ But, on this particular day the only dash he made was an early one as he was sent off in controversial circumstances. 

The referee for the game was Lincoln’s Mr. West, well known to Fred from his Gainsborough Trinity days from 1887 to 1891 as being so biased that when he acted as the Lincoln City linesman he was reported by teams in the Midland Counties League for intimidation. Fred was not happy to discover that Mr. West had been elevated to referee status and feared he might use his new powers to get his own back on those who had objected to him acting as Lincoln City’s ‘twelfth man’. 

Fred had netted a goal on a rock hard frosty surface. This made the ball unusually bouncy and difficult to control. Stoke right back John Robertson, who later captained Liverpool to the League title, was a dashing, daring and slightly reckless opponent who seemed to make no allowance for the treacherous underfoot conditions when he tackled for the ball. From a high kick the ball bounced to a tremendous height and when Fred used his shoulder and ball skills to manoeuvre away from his marker it was a masterful move not appreciated by Mr West who blew for a free kick. When Fred politely enquired why he had been penalised the referee ignored him. 

When the Wednesday winger then complained about the decision Mr West simply pushed him over on to the icy ground, causing him to fall on his bottom much to the amusement of the crowd. West then told the player to retreat down the pitch but when he positioned himself back the six yards required under the rules then in place this failed to satisfy the referee who told him to retreat further. Fred stood his ground and informed the referee that he was abiding by the rules. The player was intent on defending the free kick at which point Mr West said that for deliberately ignoring his instructions he was dismissing him. Fred initially refused to leave the field but eventually gave way for what was the first and only sending-off in his football career. 

Fred’s dismissal meant he appeared before the FA’s disciplinary committee on 5 January 1897. He was exonerated of any blame and was neither fined nor suspended. Neither though was Mr West.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Liberation? Not bloody likely......

Liberation is the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery, or oppression; a release. 
Now i welcome the defeat of the Islamists in Aleppo but if anyone thinks the return of rule by Assad and his best mate, Mr Putin, is going to bring about the end of oppression they need their heads looking at.

New version of Charlie Hurley authorised biography out now


With the original (from 2008) Charlie Hurley authorised biography book sold out a new paperback and digital version is out with a third of all profits going to Charlie himself, the author and the Charlie Hurley Statue fund. Paperback at £15 and digital version at £6.50.

Friday, 16 December 2016

When Saturday Comes article on Fred Spiksley

DECISION NEARS FOR FIRE VICTIM Inquiry of police role in Bradford fire looms

Inquiry of police role in Bradford fire looms 
Victim's book raised issues with 1985 blaze 
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is close to deciding whether to investigate West Yorkshire Police’s role in the Bradford City fire disaster of 1985 in which 56 fans died. 
The IPCC became involved following the release of a book on the 30th anniversary of the disaster: The Fifty-Six: The Story of the Bradford Fire by Martin Fletcher, who survived the fire on 11 May but lost four of his relatives to it. 
Police failures 
There then followed a letter from Fletcher’s legal representatives Leigh Day to the then home secretary, Theresa May, urging her to initiate an independent review of the evidence and arguing “police failures caused most loss of life". 
These included an alleged delay of 195 seconds before evacuating fans on to the pitch and a failure by the commanding officer, Chief Inspector Charles Mawson, to investigate radio reports of a fire until his deputy forced him to do so. 
The police control room in Bradford city centre is also alleged to have failed to respond quickly enough to three police radio requests for fire brigade assistance so that the brigade, stationed only three minutes away from the ground, arrived nine minutes after the fire started, by which time the all-wooden Main Stand was fully ablaze. 
West Yorkshire Police subsequently referred itself in November 2015 to the IPCC. The police watchdog said it “would consider the referral before deciding whether to investigate”. 
The decision to self-refer does not mean the IPCC will investigate. In November 2012, South Yorkshire Police referred itself to the organisation over its conduct at Orgreave during the Miners Strike of 1984-85. The IPCC then took until June 2015 to issue a report that cited the historic nature of events and its failure to obtain police operational orders as reasons not to proceed to a full investigation. 
"Blame not apportioned" 
Following the fire in 1985 a hastily arranged inquiry was held just 13 days after the forensic search of the site was completed. It lasted only five and a half days. It did not take witness statements from most survivors. All the families were represented by a barrister instructed by the Bradford Law Society. 
The inquiry’s judge, Lord Popplewell, had said beforehand “blame will not be apportioned”. He concluded the fire’s cause was the dropping of a lit match, cigarette or tobacco on to litter that had collected underneath the stand. Fletcher has cast doubts on this verdict. 
When Fletcher began investigating events he unearthed flaws in the inquiry and inconsistencies between what Bradford City owner Stafford Heginbotham and the club told the press. Fletcher found that Heginbotham had a string of businesses where eight similar fires had broken out and which all followed a similar pattern of spreading quickly and catching the fire brigade unaware. 
When West Yorkshire Police referred itself to the IPCC, Fletcher said he was “delighted”, adding: “It is a proper testament to the open and transparent nature of modern policing.” 
Now an IPCC spokesperson has stated: “We are in the final stages of this matter and will look to announce a decision in due course.” 

In response Fletcher said: “It would be inappropriate to make any substantive public statements until the official decision is announced.” 

QUESTIONS FOR RIPPER - Police called on to revisit unsolved cases

Police called on to revisit unsolved cases 
West Yorkshire Police won't disclose plans 
Taken from Big Issue North article in October 2016. 
Calls are growing for police to question the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, over unsolved murders now he has been declared sane 
Sutcliffe was convicted in 1981 for 13 murders and attempting to murder seven others after a lengthy police investigation, during which he was questioned and released many times. 
Two killers? 
During the investigation, there were reports that two serial killers were at large, unconnected to each other. 
The late Ron Warren, deputy chairman of West Yorkshire Police Authority at the time, maintained until he died a decade ago that “it was known in the top echelons
of the police that two men were involved in the series of murders”. 
Sutcliffe was declared to be sane at the time of his trial. The judge sent him to prison for a minimum of 30 years. 
In 1984, Sutcliffe was moved from Parkhurst prison on the Isle of Wight
to Broadmoor psychiatric hospital after he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. But in August this year, he was moved back to a Wakefield prison after medical experts ruled him mentally fit. Sutcliffe now calls himself Coonan. 
Twenty-year old Carol Wilkinson was brutally murdered in Bradford in 1977. A local man, Anthony Steele, was found guilty of her murder. Steele always maintained his innocence and his conviction was quashed in 2003. West Yorkshire Police chief constable Colin Cramphorn offered him a “personal apology”. 
Steele died in September 2007. No one has subsequently been arrested for Wilkinson’s murder. Kay Lintern, who lived opposite the Wilkinson family home in 1977, believes Sutcliffe should be questioned. 
She said: “I remember seeing him hanging around the Ravenscliffe estate where we both lived. I didn’t go to the police when Sutcliffe was sent to prison in 1981 as I thought Steele must have done the murder. But when his conviction was overturned I realised it may have been a murder committed by Sutcliffe. 
“In 2005 I rang West Yorkshire Police about what I knew but no one came to take my statement. I think Sutcliffe should now be questioned about other crimes he may have committed as I know many other people are convinced he murdered their loved ones.” 
Fresh evidence 
Peter Hill, from the 1980s Rough Justice TV programme, is convinced that the police were right to rule Sutcliffe out of the Wilkinson murder. 
“I investigated the case and the crime did not fit the crime pattern associated with the Ripper,” said Hill. “I even supplied the police some years ago with the name of the person I believe is the killer and who was serving a lengthy sentence for other murders. 
“The police told me they were confident they had, despite the chief constable’s personal apology, got the right man in Steele. The Wilkinson case thus remains unresolved. 
“The police state they are interested in solving unresolved crimes from the past but they don’t appear open to people approaching them with fresh evidence.” 
Gerry Sutcliffe (no relation), who was MP for Bradford South from 1994 to 2015, also wants to see Sutcliffe questioned. “There are lots of unsolved attacks and murders of women across the north in the late 1970s and early 1980s and the Ripper may have information on them,” he said. 
Wilma McCann, a mother of three, was the Yorkshire Ripper’s first victim, murdered near her Leeds home on 30 October 1975. 
Her son Richard, whose 2005 book Just a Boy was a bestseller, said: “Now Sutcliffe has been declared sane he should be questioned. When I made my documentary The Ripper Murdered My Mum for the BBC I asked Dick Holland, who was second in charge of the Ripper inquiry, whether he agreed on this very point but he was adamant that Sutcliffe should not be questioned. 
“It seemed a case of let sleeping dogs lie. But Sutcliffe may have evidence that can allow some families to know who killed their loved ones and that would allow them to finally have closure on such tragedies.” 
Not public 
In 2015, authors Chris Clark, a former police intelligence officer, and Tim Tate, an investigative journalist, claimed that Sutcliffe might have been responsible for a further 23 murders. 
West Yorkshire Police would not say if they have or will be interviewing Sutcliffe. 
DCI Jim Dunkerley of West Yorkshire Police, said: “West Yorkshire Police has made
a key commitment that a case is never closed until it is resolved. As part of this commitment to victims we continuously review our undetected homicides and serious sexual offences. 
“Earlier this year officers visited a small number of people named within the Sir Lawrence Byford Report, which examined, in the early 1980s, the police inquiry after Sutcliffe was caught and listed 13 unresolved offences. These offences form part of the historic cases that continue to be reviewed by West Yorkshire Police. 

“In this review the interests of victims of crime and their families are of paramount importance, as is the requirement to ensure that no information is made public that could prejudice any future criminal investigation or judicial process. Victims and their families remain updated as to the progress of their cases.” 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Review of FROM BENDED KNEE TO A NEW REPUBLIC: How the Fight for Water is Changing Ireland

FROM BENDED KNEE TO A NEW REPUBLIC: How the Fight for Water is Changing Ireland 

The Liffey Press 

This is a very easy to read, highly informative book by Brendan Ogle, the Unite education, politics and development organiser for Ireland. 

The Right2Water and Right2Change campaigns have proven —  thanks to a unique blend of community, trade union and political activism — to be massive successes. Ogle has played a major role and in this book he explains why the campaigns — which started in 2014 and are ongoing — are necessary and how they have changed the face of politics in Ireland, hopefully for good.

The people of the Irish Republic have been forced to endure austerity for many years. The Right2Water campaign began after the painful journey, backed by the EU, towards water privatisation started when water meters began to be installed by Irish Water. The Irish Government had created this company in 2013 with the aim of getting Irish citizens to now pay privately for their water rather than had previously been the case collectively through their taxes. 

Ogle begins by making a very powerful case as to why the Right2Water campaign could easily have been one for either health or housing, areas where the private sector has been politically allowed to dominate the public sector with disastrous consequences for working people.

The author then shows how the supply of water is being privatised right across the globe. This includes the UK where water companies have upped prices and are now enjoying massive profits and yet pay hardly any tax and are also putting little investment into the infrastructure needed to supply water to customers. Ogle shows how international companies are seeking new water avenues to explore, thus making the future even more worrying.

The Irish Republic has largely been dominated politically by centrist parties such as Fine Gael and Fianna Fail.  Corruption has flourished. Trade unionists and (some) socialists who longed for a better future have tended to look towards the Irish Labour Party, but like in Britain it has become increasingly social democratic rather democratic socialist, more Blair than Attlee. 

Ogle deconstructs the Irish Labour Party, showing how its politics are the mirror image of New Labour whereby neoliberalism and globalisation is good even if it wrecks working-class communities. As such Irish Labour, with 37 seats, was content to enter into a coalition government with Fine Gael in 2011. The party did its best to undermine the two campaigns and was to lose heavily at the General Election in 2016 and was reduced to just 7 seats. 

With virtually all of the mainstream media either hostile or uninterested in the ever increasing numbers of people getting involved in the Right2Water campaign, Ogle shows how social media can be very important in reaching out and bringing on board all sectors of the community. 

When large scale mobilisations meant they could no longer ignore what was happening, the Irish State and its mainstream politicians then attempted to portray the developing movement as a threat to the State. This was despite the fact that all the protests, many of which have been massive,  had, with some small exceptions, been peaceful ones.

Ogle bemoans the lack of an impartial and informed media in Ireland and also the lack of a functioning democracy such that there is no right to recall MPs when they fail to carry out promises they have made during General Elections. One of the great parts of the book is that it shows how the campaign in Ireland has linked up with similar water campaigns right across the world and particularly those in Detroit in the USA and in Greece.

The book shows how Unite, in particular, and some sections of the trade union movement have been at the forefront of the fight against water privatisation. 

The book describes how Unite, working with Trademark Belfast, has provided political economy courses for non-aligned community activists. This has given the water protest movement access to the type of information that would enable them to understand the political and economic agenda behind water privatisation. 

In 2015, the Right2Water campaign undertook a period of reflection and analysis and this led to the development of a more ambitious platform called Right2Change. Ten policies, all of which were only agreed after extensive debate in which political parties, trade unions and community activists were represented —  are listed. They are: a right to water, jobs, housing, health, education, democratic reform, debt justice, equality, a sustainable environment and a fair economy. With 37 per cent of its citizens suffering deprivation, an unemployment rate of over ten power cent and thousands driven abroad they were all necessary. 

To prove the ten points are also affordable, Right2Change provided a rigorous, detailed economic explanation of where funds can be founded in a country where major multinational companies such as Apple pay a fraction of their huge profits in tax.

Right2Change then sought to get political parties to agree to back these policies at the 2016 February General Election. In constituencies where candidates refused, attempts were made to get community activists who did back the policies to stand for office. 106 election candidates endorsed Right2Change. None were from the Labour Party. 

Almost 100 of the 158 seats were won by candidates who had campaigned on an anti-water charges platform. For the first time ever in modern Irish politics a majority Government could not be formed. The key outgoing government initiative of wanting to cut taxation was rejected by voters more concerned with the state of essential public services. 

Fine Gael is now the senior partner in a coalition government that is supported by Fianna Fail, who have promised not to bring the government down in confidence motions or object to reshuffles.

Water charges have been suspended until the end of 2016 and the government has also set up a hand-picked  ‘independent commission,’ which is excluded from assessing the social impact in relation to how Ireland provides water to its citizens. Yet even this was insufficient for the European Commission as just four days after the UK voted to leave the EU a spokesman for the Commission confirmed that Ireland would be fined if domestic water charges were not reinstated. Such an ill-judged and ludicrous statement — in a country that has 1 per cent of the EU’s population and has been saddled with 41 per cent of its banking debate — must inevitably make an Irish exit from the EU more likely in the future. Ogle questions ‘whether the relationship that Ireland has with the EU as currently structured can be sustained.’ 

Right2Water has made a lengthy submission to the Water Commission calling for water meters to be scrapped, water to again become paid for through general taxes and how water charges infringe human rights. It wants the Dail (Irish Parliament) to abolish domestic water charges.

 A decision must be made shortly. Meanwhile Ogle isn't sitting back waiting and ends his book asking ‘So Where Will Our Progressive Government Come From?’ and like everything else in this excellent book the author offers some great analysis and ideas that have wide international significance. 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Plaque To Be Unveiled In Honour Of Kenny Davenport

Plaque To Be Unveiled In Honour Of Kenny Davenport

A plaque commemorating the first ever Football League goalscorer Kenny Davenport is to be unveiled in the Pikes Lane area of Bolton next Tuesday.

For over a century, it had been thought that an own goal by Aston Villa’s Gershom Cox, playing against Wolverhampton Wanderers, was the first Football League goal.
In 2013, however, research by football author Mark Metcalf and librarian Robert Boyling revealed that the kick off in that game had been delayed.

It meant that Davenport’s goal at 3.47pm on September 8, 1888 for Bolton Wanderers against Derby County was the first ever Football League goal.

Efforts to find a permanent home in the Pikes Lane area for a blue plaque dedicated to Davenport have now led a local business, the Lostock Electrical Projects Company, agreeing to have the plaque on their building on Backfield Street. Business owner Duncan Simm, 58, is a Wanderers fan.
Gordon Taylor OBE  said: "For a Bolton Wanderers player, Kenny Davenport, to be discovered to have scored the very first goal in the oldest established professional football league in the World is rightfully worthy of a very special commemoration and this, thanks to Mark Metcalf, Kenny's family, the PFA and Bolton Wanderers F.C, has now been successfully achieved.” 

Shaun Harvey, EFL Chief Executive, said: “I am pleased to see that a plaque is to be unveiled in recognition of Kenny Davenport’s first goal in league football.

“While there has since been over half a million goals in English league football, there can only ever be one ‘first goal’ scored and it is it fitting that such a momentous moment is marked in this way.” 

Phil Mason, Club Chaplain, added: “I am delighted that we are marking this significant milestone in our history as a club and rightly commemorating Kenny’s achievement. My thanks must go to all involved in discovering this fact of history and especially to Mark Metcalf. The Blue Plaque will act as a permanent reminder of the importance of our Club in the history of football”.

Mark Metcalf said: “Robert and myself are delighted that the efforts of many people to find a suitable venue to erect a plaque commemorating Kenny Davenport’s feat will be rewarded on 22 November. I am looking forward to the event.”

Duncan Simm added: “When myself and my business partner were asked if the plaque could be placed here then we had no problems in agreeing especially as I am a Wanderers season ticket holder.  We are thinking about putting a letterhead on our documents stating that we are based where the first goal was scored.”

Mavis Callaghan, who is Kenny Davenport’s great niece, said: ““We have been searching for a venue since 2013 and so it will be great to see the plaque being unveiled on 22 November. Bolton scored the first League goal and also the first at Wembley in 1923. That’s a great record and it is only right that Kenny is remembered for having scored the goal on 8 September 1888. He was also the first Bolton player to play for England.” 

The plaque is to be unveiled at 5.30pm on Tuesday 22 November by Gordon Taylor of the PFA, Mark Metcalf and the Mayor of Bolton, Lynda Byrne.
The ceremony is to be overseen by the Club Chaplain and Head of the Community Trust, Phil Mason and everyone is invited to attend.

For further information, please contact BWFC Head of Marketing and Communications Paul Holliday on 07866 562998

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Plaque to first ever League scorer set to be unveiled.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Is Wayne Rooney a negative on the England team? Yahoo Sports Question of the week

HALIFAX REBORN: Square Chapel reopens as works continue

Halifax Reborn
Big Issue North magazine article 
Square Chapel reopens as works continue 

The first phase in the development of Halifax’s new cultural quarter will be completed this month as staff move back into the newly renovated Square Chapel Centre for the Arts. The £6.6 million capital fund project has been funded by the Arts Council and Calderdale Council.
Extensive renovation work is being carried out on several historic buildings in the Yorkshire town, including the Square Chapel and nearby Piece Hall. The three-year, £27m project, which includes an extension to Piece Hall as well as new shops, offices and outdoor spaces, is being funded by Calderdale Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund. 
Staff will move back into the Square Chapel at the end of September after spending three months in the nearby Orangebox Young People’s Centre. The public will have access to the revamped arts centre from January 2017, with an official launch planned from autumn 2017. 
The Square Chapel, a Grade II listed building, was opened in 1779 and is one of only a handful of square churches ever built. In the decades that followed, it was used as a Sunday School and a base
for community events. 
It fell into disrepair in the 1980s, but was then brought back to life by businessman Robin Sutcliffe and his wife Jessica, an architect specialising in building conservation. Ignoring signs saying ‘Dangerous – Do Not Enter’, the couple climbed into the building to investigate whether it could be turned into a performing arts centre. 
“It was a wintry afternoon in 1983 when we groped our way up a dank staircase. I was completely unprepared for what greeted me,” said Jessica Sutcliffe. “It was a remarkable space, unexpectedly large but intimate at the same time, still with traces of Georgian elegance despite its ruinous state.” 
Over the next five years, the Sutcliffes assembled a team of people, the Square Chapel Trust, to bid to buy the building from Calderdale Council. They are both still on the board. 
Robin Sutcliffe added: “We could definitely see that this wonderful building could be turned into a performing arts centre and help play a role in culturally redeveloping Halifax town centre. 
“We knew it would take time to realise our objectives but from the start we used the building for arts activities.” 
As more funding became available, building work at the Square Chapel was undertaken, interspersed with theatre, poetry, music, dance and children’s events. 
“Ten years ago, with the support of Yorkshire Forward and the Arts Council, we began seeking funding for a major redevelopment,” Robin said. “The Square Chapel welcomes 40,000 visitors
a year and the building is no longer large enough for everyone who uses it.” 
The newly refurbished facilities will include a 108-seat multi-purpose cinema/studio theatre space, a dedicated space for volunteers and a cafe-bar area. There will also be direct access to the nearby Piece Hall. 
A new library designed around the remains of the nearby Square Congregational Church, which was built in the 1850s and closed its doors in 1969 before being destroyed by fire, is also under construction and will include a new IT area and media store. 
Meanwhile, volunteers are working towards the reopening of the Calderdale Industrial Museum, just yards away from the new library. 
“It’s a real thrill to see everything coming together to help form a really vibrant cultural heart to Halifax,” Robin said. “It was what we dreamt of all those years ago.” 
David McQuillan, the Director of Square Chapel, believes: “what is particularly exciting about opening the new building is that it affords the opportunity to programme more art, to welcome more people to take in live performances, watch films and eat and drink with us. 

“What won’t change is that Square Chapel will remain the red brick building heart in this grand stone town.”

Thursday, 1 September 2016


Two campaigns against immigration detention 
Legal aid cuts hinder asylum seeker justice 
Two new campaigns against immigration detention will be launched this weekend at a conference in Manchester. The gathering, by members of the Right to Remain (R2R) organisation, takes place after successive governments have extended immigration controls from the point of entry into local communities and workplaces. 
The numbers being placed in immigration detention centres have leapt in the last two decades from 300 at any one time to around 3,000. Last year more than 32,000 people were locked up on occasions in places such as Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre and Pennine House at Manchester Airport. 
'Appalling conditions' 
According to Michael Collins, Right to Remain co-ordinator: “Many of those detained have actually got a right to be in the UK. Unfortunately, because of cuts to legal aid, access to justice in the legal system has been stripped away, especially for people on meagre incomes. 
“Inexperienced civil servants are making decisions on people and taking away their liberties even though they’ve done nothing wrong. People are moved hundreds of miles from friends and family. 
Also, while detainees seek to get solicitors to represent them they can be confined indefinitely as the UK is the only European country not to have set a time limit on detention. 
“Many people have rightly been campaigning against the appalling conditions at the detention centres. We now want to build new local campaigns in Manchester and Liverpool against detention. These will be called These Walls Must Fall. We aim to get civil society to say it is unacceptable for so many people to be detained without a time limit being set.” 
Aderonke Apata, currently seeking asylum in the UK, fled Nigeria in 2004 after her partner was murdered because of her sexuality and Aderonke had a death sentence imposed on her by a sharia court. When she was detained in Yarl’s Wood detention centre in Bedfordshire in 2011 she claims to have experienced homophobic abuse and intimidation on a regular basis. Other lesbian detainees who she befriended were attacked. 
Apata stayed in the detention centre for almost a year and fears she could be returned at any time.
She helped launch African Rainbow Family (AFR), which supports LGBT people of African heritage. 
Aderonke and AFR both contributed to the 2016 All Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT Rights report. 
This recognised that “the decision-making process needs to be improved in assessing LGBT asylum
cases through improved staff training, potentially appointing specialist caseworkers for LGBT asylum cases”. 
This recognised that “the decision-making process needs to be improved in assessing LGBT asylum
cases through improved staff training, potentially appointing specialist caseworkers for LGBT asylum cases”. Aderonke wants to build on the inquiry’s recommendations. “I wish to raise awareness amongst immigration decision makers so that they can properly understand that the culture of many asylum seekers and detainees is different to their own. For example, it is not the practice in Africa for people to look directly at people and to make eye contact. In Britain anyone who doesn’t do this can be seen as shifty, disrespectful and untrustworthy. This can lead to decisions wrongly going against applicants who are applying to stay in the UK. 
“LGBT people are being detained unnecessarily as there is no way they can be sent back to places they have come from because it is not safe to live there. Being detained ruins people’s mental health and means when they do return to society they struggle to integrate into the local community.
It costs £33,000 a year to detain someone and this money could be used more effectively. 
“This Saturday I am establishing the We Rise: LGBT Asylum Seekers Campaign as what we need is more people openly involved and campaigning for their rights. It is an issue we need to make much more important.” 
Collins said: “Aderonke is a massive inspiration to so many people. It will be great for everyone to hear her speak as part of a packed programme of events.” 

These events include a workshop by Refugee InfoBus people from Calais, who are organising know-your-rights sessions for refugees in the Calais Jungle and also seeking to establish new groups in northern cities to welcome refugees when they get here.