Conspiracy against strike leaders of building workers dramatised for the stage

… or a play about the Shrewsbury 2.
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A terrific education.
And, in patches, terrific entertainment.
Principles. Inspiration. Nostalgia.
Recommended, save there are only a few dates left and none local.
I come from Shrewsbury. And I’m kinda surprised that it’s the home of two high profile conspiracy stories – the killing of Hilda Murrell and the Shrewsbury 2 / 3 / 6 / 24 – both of which the subject of plays. DNA technology found the conspiracy theory around the murder was unfounded.

The authors of this play and the Shrewsbury 24 campaign are clear this was a conspiracy – to find striking construction workers guilty of conspiracy under a rarely used 1875 conspiracy law.
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The conspiracy charge runs thus – strike leaders associated with a picket on the Brookside estate in Telford New Town on 6th September 1972 were picked out for an investigation by police officers, after a national 10 week strike had been settled. Following a successful miners strike and the liberation of 5 jailed London dockers, the establishment – notably the Conservative gov’t and their party treasurer, McAlpine – wanted retribution. McAlpine whose family had provided the High Sheriff of nearby Denbighshire for 8 times in succession. McAlpine – the developer of the Brookside estate that became the focus of the court case.
The final parts of the first half of the play makes these points in a very entertaining way.
The final parts of the court case which makes up the second half are good too, although other exchanges are more confusing.
Singing segways the scenes – as the actors re-arrange the scenery. In the context of this story, some of the traditional songs are very powerful, although the acoustic version of The Sweet’s “Blockbuster” as background music for a video of the first years of the Edward Heath government was bewildering (yet terrific nostalgia).
The actors exhibited all the stage crafts, including fetching members of the audience still in the bar at the end of the interval (guilty m’lud).
As the Guardian review points out, the play has something to say whatever your politics – the use of leftist pathos is there but not as much as I might have expected.
It’s a fantastic reminder of the quality of grassroots activity of the early seventies – stuff I wish we had now. And of why the trade unions had to win on pay, terms & conditions and health & safety. “Kill, kill, kill the lump“. Well, the lump is back now in a different form – zero and low hours contracts – and we need to win again.
Whilst the Sweet song made me smile, I was not too happy with the use of the Strawbs song which at the time I saw as an anti-union song; (the wiki write up is conflicted; and I wonder if this production changes the words).
At the end of this performance, Terry Renshaw, the youngest of the Shrewsbury 24, gave a speech and explained that the court papers are withheld until at least 2021, although the Labour Party is committed to changing this if elected in May.
Terry said there were still health and safety issues in construction and the Nottingham tram expansion project had hit a problem when workers were required to pay a fee to get their wages.

86% eclipse of the moon

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Well the sky was cloudless.
The haze in the sky from the current pollution was discernable.
But at 86%, the event was slightly underwhelming.
Didn’t particularly feel it being colder or darker.

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But I’ve been spoiled. I witnessed the full eclipse in Nottingham’s German twin city and that was thrilling, much more than I expected.
Made more dramatic by the cloud clearing just in time.

High level inspection of the tram routes

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A walk around the tram routes through The Meadows with NeMTRA’s chair and NET representatives. But there’s a lot to be done regarding finishing and landscaping. It’s clear that Meadows Way West is still not ready to be returned to two way traffic.
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Higher level concerns to be thought about then are –
– damage to slab stones that appear related but weren’t part of the works site;
– whether cycle lanes need dedicated demarcation.

Proposed housing between Meadow Lane and the Trent at committee

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Meadow Lane development 11 CGI- River Trent View b0209h The March planning committee considered an application for 96 homes on the site of Banton House and behind.
A block of flats with a shop by the football ground, a street of town houses and 5 blocks of apartments facing the river.
The design had gone through design reviews and the materials reported to be a good specification. But councillors, myself included, were concerned about the lack of decoration, so we’ve deferred the proposal by a month to review the arguments for the abrupt appearance.