Rochdale and Littleborough Peace Group were in the town centre on Saturday (6 March 2010) calling for an end to spending on nuclear missiles and an increase in spending on health, education and social care. They invited people to sign the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s petition calling for an immediate end to the government’s plans to upgrade the Trident nuclear weapons system and supporting a global ban on nuclear weapons. The local campaigners included Patricia and Philip Gilligan, Jenny Turner and Pat Sanchez, who was fresh from a visit, last month, to the Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment where she lay down in the road in an attempt to halt work on the development of new nuclear weapons. The Peace Group report a very enthusiastic response from local shoppers, including Heywood and Middleton MP, Jim Dobbin who stopped to sign the CND petition on his way up Yorkshire Street and wished the group well.
Pat Sanchez said,
“At a time of economic crisis, when care homes are being closed in Rochdale and services cut, because of a lack of funds, it is scandalous that £billions are being squandered on new facilities at Aldermaston. While health services in Greater Manchester are facing yet another round of cuts, spending on new facilities at AWE Aldermaston has increased seventeen-fold over the past decade, from £24m in 2000 to £420m last year. Trident is a Cold War weapons system which does nothing to protect Britain from any threat we face today, yet it is the only item that was excluded from reconsideration in the government's recent Defence Review. We are delighted to have the support of local MPs like Jim Dobbin in our struggle to halt Trident Replacement, and hope that, eventually, a majority in parliament will wake up to the fact that most people in Britain are opposed to spending £billions on upgrading nuclear weapons of mass destruction. We want our taxes spent on decent public services, not on a means to spread death on a global scale. Nuclear weapons are an immoral, illegal and hideous misuse of public funds. Greenpeace estimates that the true cost of Trident Replacement would amount to £97billion over the next few years. Based on population, Rochdale’s share of even the current costs of Trident already amounts to £7million per year. This is more than 4 times what the Council hopes to save by closing the Meadow View Care Centre in Middleton, but the proportionate cost to our borough of so-called ‘Trident Replacement’ amounts to much more; in excess of £300million. This is money that needs to be spent on essential services, like social care, not on nuclear weapons.”For confirmation of Pat's figures on spending at Aldermaston, please see http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2005-10-31c.22020.h and http://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2010-01-29a.313384.h