blank
Connect with us

Coronavirus

Anti-racism group writes open letter to Cinema & Co owner to distance herself from far-right organisations

Published

on

An anti-racism group has written an open letter to the owner of a Swansea independent cinema that refuses to follow Government COVID measures.

The letter by a group called ‘Stand Up To Racism‘, and counter-signed by over 180 politicians, musicians, artists and activists says Anna Redfern and her venue has been manipulated by far-right groups that support her anti-COVID pass view.

The letter accuses the Voice of Wales group of anti-semetic, homophobic and racists acts, in addition to association with other far-right organisations and people such as former EDL leader Tommy Robinson.

The letter calls on Ms Redfern to publicly distance herself “from groups such as Voice of Wales who openly foster Islamophobia, anti Semitism and racial division.”

Voice of Wales have been a vocal supporter of Cinema and Co’s anti-COVID-pass stance, and members of the Stand Up To Racism group report regular sightings of members in the premises.

The group, who describe themselves as a media organisation, strongly deny they are racist. They in turn accuse Stand Up to Racism as being a far-left organisation intent on spreading lies about them.

In a social media post, Ms Redfern denies any connection to extremist groups.

Advertisement

In a video message she thanked the “breath-taking levels of support from all over the UK” that she’s received for her actions, including doctors, nurses and footballers.

She continued to say that her “life had become totally surreal” and that she was “being acted on by so many forces out of [her] control. Some very dark.”

“I absolutely reject any claims that I am in any way connected to far-right groups, far-left groups or any form of racism” she added.

A crowd-funder set up by former Brexit Party & Abolish the Welsh Assembly candidate Richard Taylor, has raised over £60,000 so far.

The cinema received notice to close for up to 28 days on Thursday (18 November) by Swansea Council.

Advertisement

The notice said that Cinema & Co had not completed a COVID risk assessment, staff had no training on how to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and there was no implementation of the COVID pass scheme.

It was also noted that there was no signage advising customers to wear face coverings and there was inadequate cleaning products to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The cinema ignored the closure notice and reopened the following day, with Ms Redfern stating on social media that she was taking a stand and “will not allow a council officer with a clipboard to end my right to provide for my family”.

The open letter from Stand Up To Racism in full

We as regular users and supporters of Cinema and Co would like to voice our dismay at seeing your venue being manipulated by far right groups such as Voice of Wales.

As performers, promoters, creators, fans and activists, we have long valued the supportive space offered by Cinema and Co and have many happy memories of events there pre COVID. We appreciate that the past 18 months must have been incredibly hard for Anna and her team, and understand the frustration you must feel as we witness the inept way the Pandemic and its aftermath have been handled by Boris Johnson and his crew in the Westminster Government.

Of course, like all of us, you are eager to get back to what you do best – promoting live performances.

Whatever our view of the vaccine passports as they are being implemented in Wales, we are very concerned that you have let your opposition to them allow yourself to be used by the far right.

Many of those who are promoting you on social media are racists and Fascists, not least Voice of Wales. This far right sect were involved with harassing refugees in West Wales, abusing Swansea City Football Players taking the knee and have worked with notorious bigots such as Katie Hopkins and infamous Fascist fraudster and football thug, Tommy Robinson. They even hosted representatives of American Fascist group The Proud Boys (one of whose members proudly wore a vile ‘Camp Auschwitz’ hoodie) just days after the Capitol Hill riot they were so deeply involved in. No wonder Voice of Wales have been permanently thrown off Youtube for their continued ‘unacceptable’ Islamophobic and anti Semitic activity, as reported by the BBC.

These people have no interest in the vibrant, diverse, creative culture which we have so enjoyed at Cinema and Co.

Regardless of what we think of Vaccine Passports and the best way forward for Swansea in a post pandemic world, we call on you to publicly distance yourself from groups such as Voice of Wales who openly foster Islamophobia, anti Semitism and racial division.

Swansea Stand Up to Racism
also signed by
Lord Peter Hain
Bandicoot (band)
Geraint Davies MP
Helen Love (musician)
Patrick Jones (poet)
Nimisha Trivedi – Swansea Stand Up to Racism
Joe Baylis – Swansea Music Hub
and 180 more – so far.

(Lead Image: Cinema & Co)

Advertisement
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Coronavirus

Covid measure-avoiding cinema threatens to disobey latest closure notice – branding First Minister a ‘grinch’

Published

on

By

The Welsh Government issued Swansea independent cinema and food outlet Cinema & Co with an order to close on public health grounds on Friday.

Swansea Council originally issued a closure notice for the business on Thursday 18 November saying the business had not completed a COVID risk assessment, staff had no training on how to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and there was no implementation of the COVID pass scheme.

It was also noted that there was no signage advising customers to wear face coverings and there was inadequate cleaning products to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Business owner, Anna Redfern described the Welsh Government COVID pass law as “nonsensical” and “unnecessary”.  She also refused to comply with the council’s closure notice saying

The Council took Redfern to court to enforce the closure. Ms Redfern failed to attend court, while the judge asked for an adjournment to proceedings to query the act of law that the council was using to bring the closure notice.

Prior to the new court date, the Welsh Government has decided to act itself using enforcement parts of the Coronavirus legislation for the first time.

Under the Coronavirus Act 2020, the Welsh Minsters have powers to take action against specific premises where they consider the premises to present a risk to public health.

Advertisement

In a statement, the Welsh Government said: “To support Swansea Council and to protect public health, Welsh Ministers have issued a direction under the Act for the closure of Cinema & Co in Swansea.

“Recently the Local Authority identified a series of breaches of the Coronavirus Regulations at the premises.

“The premises was previously served with a notice requiring it to close due to the risk to public health.

“As the owner has chosen not to comply with this legal requirement, Welsh Ministers have taken further enforcement action.

“The Welsh Government will not be commenting further on ongoing legal proceedings.”

Advertisement

Council officers attended the cinema on Friday evening to close the Castle Street business once again, with the order prohibiting anyone from entering the building unless given approval from the court, the council or the Welsh Government.

There was a strong police presence to enforce the closure, although media reports indicate a small number of protestors remained inside the building, with some of those reportedly wearing Voice of Wales branded clothing.

The controversial organisation has been supportive of Ms Redfern’s anti-COVID pass stance, but while describing itself as a media organisation it has been dogged by allegations of being a far right, racist group – something that it strongly denies.

Ms Redfern herself also denies any link to racism or extremism, saying that her “life had become totally surreal” and that she was “being acted on by so many forces out of [her] control. Some very dark.”

In a statement on social media she said: “I absolutely reject any claims that I am in any way connected to far-right groups, far-left groups or any form of racism”

Advertisement

Following the most recent closure notice, signed by Welsh Government First Minister Mark Drakeford himself, Cinema & Co described the First Minister as a “grinch” and vowed to disobey the order, organising a showing of the film The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” at the cinema on Sunday 28 November at 4pm.

The sold-out event was promoted on Cinema and Co’s social media showing the face of Mark Drakeford photoshopped into the grinch, accompanied by further anti-COVID pass slogans.

It is unclear as to what, if any further action the Police, Council or Welsh Government will take should the cinema breach the latest closure notice and reopen as promised.

A crowd-funder set up by former Brexit Party & Abolish the Welsh Assembly candidate Richard Taylor, has raised over £60,000 so far.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Coronavirus

Community pharmacists boost the Covid booster vaccine campaign

Published

on

By

The drive to deliver Covid booster vaccines across Swansea Bay as rapidly as possible has itself been boosted by community pharmacies.

All 49 GP practices in Swansea and Neath Port Talbot joined the health board to deliver the first two doses of the vaccine.

But as they are now busy delivering flu vaccines on top of their usual services, community pharmacies have stepped up to help ensure the booster is available locally as well as in the main vaccination centres.

Their involvement follows a successful pilot earlier this year which saw four of them help deliver the first two doses.

Thirteen in the Swansea area, along with Vale of Neath Pharmacy in Glynneath, have now responded to the health board’s call for expressions of interest to take part in the booster programme.

One of the first to receive their booster in a pharmacy was Nigel Godfrey (pictured above), who lives near the Vale of Neath Pharmacy.

“It was fantastic,” said Mr Godfrey. “I was working from home so I could pop down to the pharmacy on my lunch break.

Advertisement

“It was local, five minutes away. A lot more convenient than having to go to one of the mass vaccination centres.

“There was no waiting, I was in and out within five minutes.

“The pharmacist put me at ease and we went into a private room. There were no problems whatsoever.”

Mr Godfrey, aged 44, is entitled to the booster because of an underlying medical condition.

“But it will also protect my friends, family and colleagues, whoever I come into contact with,” he added.

Advertisement

“It’s doing the right thing, not just for myself, but also those around me and the community.”

People eligible for the booster will be contacted directly with an appointment either in one of the pharmacies or in a health board vaccination centre.

Appointments are being sent out in chronological order, at least six months after the date people received their second dose.

Six months is the threshold at which those in priority groups become eligible for the booster, not an absolute date it must be given by.

Although there are no drop-in sessions, the health board has started a reserve list for people who are aged 40 or over, who had their second dose at least six months ago.

Advertisement

They must also be available to attend one of the mass vaccination centres at short notice – within two hours.

As well as the MVCs, the health board employs local vaccination centres, converted shipping containers which can be taken into communities to save people who might otherwise struggle to get to an MVC.

With the pharmacies also on board, every effort is being made to ensure as many of those who are eligible for a booster can receive it as close to their home as possible.

“However, we appreciate that will not be the same for everyone,” said Swansea Bay’s Vaccine Equity Manager, Maxine Evans.

“We send invites to people living within a certain radius of the pharmacies to begin with and, if we have slots still available, we go further out.

Advertisement

“We are flexible and if people cannot get to the pharmacies because they live too far away and do not have transport, they can phone the booking office to change the appointment.

“But when we have been to the pharmacies and spoken to patients, they were really grateful and happy with the fact that it was local and easy for them to get the booster there.”

Pharmacists too say they are happy to be involved with the booster programme.

Niki Watts of Vale of Neath Pharmacy said: “We decided to take part because we believe it’s important to help the health board get the population fully vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“We are located at the heart of the community so the patients find it easy to access.

Advertisement

“We have good facilities, including a nice big car park right outside so the patients don’t have to walk very far, and our own dedicated consultation rooms where the vaccinations can take place in private.”

Eligibility for booster vaccines is determined nationally. It includes all adults aged 40 and over; frontline health and social care workers; people aged 16-49 with underlying health conditions putting them at higher risk of Covid-19; adult carers; and adult household contacts, aged 16 and over of anyone who is immunosuppressed.

Top of the eligibility list are people living in residential care homes for older adults. Swansea Bay has concluded its first sweep of 70 homes in the health board area – delivering more than 1,200 boosters to residents.

For various reasons, some were unable to receive the booster when the vaccinators were present, so return visits to each of the homes are now being arranged.

Georgina Assadi, health board Covid vaccine programme assistant service manager, said many of the vaccination team had not worked in the community before.

Advertisement

“It was all new to them and some were a little anxious to begin with. But they all really enjoyed it because they knew they were providing protection to the most vulnerable people,” she added.

Lead image: Nigel Godfrey is given his booster by Niki Watts of Vale of Neath Pharmacy (Image: Swansea Bay NHS)

Continue Reading

Coronavirus

Owner of Swansea independent cinema fails to attend court hearing on COVID closure

Published

on

By

Cinema owner, Anna Redfern failed to show at a Swansea Magistrates hearing this morning.

The hearing was brought by Swansea Council after Redfern ignored a closure notice issued after Cinema & Co was found to have not completed a COVID risk assessment, staff had no training on how to prevent transmission of COVID-19 and there was no implementation of the COVID pass scheme.

It was also noted that there was no signage advising customers to wear face coverings and there was inadequate cleaning products to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Despite the closure notice being issued on Thursday 19 November, Redfern reopened the business the following day and has continued to trade.

Barrister Lee Reynolds, prosecuting on behalf of the council said in court that Redfern “seems to think this pandemic doesn’t exist”.

Anna Redfern, who was not in court has previously described the Welsh Government’s COVID pass regulations as “discriminatory and unlawful”.

Redfern declined to comment further while legal proceedings were underway.

Advertisement

District judge Neale Thomas, who was hearing the case at Swansea Magistrates Court queried why the council was bringing the closure notice under the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984 and not the Welsh government’s coronavirus legislation. He asked for written submissions from the local authority on the matter and adjourned the hearing to November 30.

The council’s barrister, Mr Reynolds described the Coronavirus Act as “very limited” and said bringing the closure notice this way was necessary. He urged the shortest possible adjournment siting concern over “the state of the premises”, and Ms Redfern “making various assertions in the press and posting comments online which are inflammatory and highly controversial”.

In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for Swansea Council said: “We are disappointed that the owner has ignored the advice provided and has reopened the business in breach of the closure notice.

“In cases where we have issued improvement notices or requested businesses close temporarily so they can improve their Covid-related measures, almost all have worked with the council to address concerns raised and ensure businesses are safe for their customers and their own staff.

“We still hope we can work with Cinema & Co to address the issues raised and help them reopen as soon as possible.”

Advertisement

The council must now make written representations to the court ahead of a hearing on November 30.

In the meantime, Cinema & Co on Swansea’s Castle Street remains open.

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © 2021 Swansea Bay News