This new venture of established/establishment journalists striving towards a different model of portraying the lived experience of people in our country has featured our community group prominently in its latest issue. The team travelled to – and reported on – discussions in Birmingham, Grimsby, Glasgow and South Cambridgeshire. And some of our Proud East Marshian Gobshites (©) were on hand to contribute our own experience, our own truth – which was fairly reported in the extract below. Full article can be found here (and it is worth reading the whole thing, as there seems to be little to compare in the four places, except perhaps for an underlying sense that there’s something terribly wrong with what we have and that change must come – systemic change, not tinkering around the edges any more: https://members.tortoisemedia.com/2019/11/25/191125-election-tour/content.html
Grimsby is often seen as a bellwether of the strength of political anger: will a Labour Leave-voting constituency forgo its traditional party loyalty for the sake of Brexit? It is a question which misreads the complexity and depth of people’s discontent.
On Tuesday, in the corner room of Grimsby Holiday Inn, the word “Brexit” was uttered once, in passing, and never repeated. Many faces of the town were in the room – sixth formers, community organisers, retirees, volunteers, workers – and nearly all felt let down. The economy, the council, government: very little up there worked for them.
- Decrepit houses. This part of the discussion naturally focused on East Marsh, one of the most deprived areas in the whole of Europe, let alone Grimsby. The lack of leadership in the ward is typified by its housing: old, uncared for, and of poor quality. A local architect was commissioned by the council to write up a plan, praised by others in the room, to refurbish 15 housing blocks in the area. As far as he is aware, the plans still sit, untouched, in a council drawer somewhere.
- “Running in treacle.” The Resolution Foundation diagnosed people’s experience of the job market in four words: “Feel poor, work more.” In the room on Tuesday night, a local seafood employee gave his own four words. They amounted to the same: “Like running in treacle.” A young couple who work 78 hours a week and can barely afford to keep a roof over their heads, and certainly not start a family, is a sign of sickness in the economy.
- No recovery. The financial crash still weighs heavily on the town. “Things have just gotten worse and worse since the financial crisis,” said one attendee. Many others agreed. Poor job security, wages that can’t keep up with the rising cost of living, bad prospects particularly for working women. It is no wonder that many young people want out. “There’s this idea,” said a sixth-form student, “that if you come back to your hometown you’ve failed.”
But there is hope, as well as a pride and energy in the town. Local initiatives, such as East Marsh United, want government support to flourish but are not waiting on it to make a start. “This is where we live, this is our home,” said the chair of East Marsh United, a community group trying to renovate housing in the area. “Pensioners shouldn’t have to suffer, young people shouldn’t have to suffer, and, when it comes down to it, us humans shouldn’t have to suffer. That’s it. Full stop. No argument.”
Polly Curtis and David Taylor
Tortoise will be back in Grimsby twice before the election. We are invited to join them and have our voice heard.
3 December, 6:30pm,
Holiday Inn Express Riverhead Coffee is now the venue for this date – book here.
10 December, 6:30pm, Grimsby Telegraph, book here.