Thursday, 4 August 2016

Annual Report of the Friends of Freedom Press

Editorial Note:
WE are happy to publish below the Annual Report of the Friends of Freedom Press for the last year, which was sent to Northern Voices yesterday.  This itself is something of an achievement because it clearly lays out the difficulties encountered by the 'Friends' in their management of the company over the last year. 
In the past things have been allowed to drift, and there are now considerable complications regarding the condition of the building structurally, and certain sociological dilemmas with regard to some of the occupants of the building.
The Friends of Freedom Press Annual Report for 2015-16:

THIS is the first year of the resurrected Friends of Freedom Press (FFP), and this report is intended to look back on what we have achieved in the last year.   
Firstly, we have met regularly and discussed the situation facing Freedom as a publisher, as a building and as something approaching a social centre. That situation remains stark -  the building is in a poor condition. The Friends own the building, the Collective occupy it and try to maintain it and there is not any money. The remit of the Friends, “to facilitate anarchist publishing” (Editor's emphasis), is very barely being continued. 
The issues as FFP see them are the lack of publishing, both a paper and books; the condition of the building (including fire certificates and lack of disabled access/toilets); and the inability to insure the building.  Richard (Parry), Donald (Rooum) and Ernest (Rodker) each paid £200 for a comprehensive survey of the building, from which came the figure of £50,000 for repairs. 
With this background, and the only asset available being the building, the Friends decided to see how much it might raise. While there was never any intention to sell it without consultation, poor communication compounded by wild rumours saw this attempt to move forward shut down by the building’s users and their allies in a meeting originally billed as a “social”. The buildings users’ agenda was one of defining the role of FFP as merely fundraisers, accusing FFP of being a stalking horse for Northern Voices and failing to consult. The last of these points is the only one we are prepared to concede. The meeting did not address whether it would be in Freedom’s best interests to stay or move and how any activities would be financed. 
There has been some talk that the purpose of the Memorandum of Association should be amended to change the purpose of the Friends to suit how the building is currently run. Legal advice appears to indicate this is not possible. This is one area that the Friends will need to address with the Collective in the coming year.  
We understand that the Collective has set up working groups to address both fundraising and the repairs required. We look forward to hearing more from both these initiatives. 
At this AGM, the three longest serving directors will be standing down, though they may stand for re-election. 
Finally, we would like to pay tribute to Sonia Markham, a Friend until ill health forced her to resign in 2015, who sadly died earlier this year.
(Annual Report presented to the Friends of Freedom Press AGM: 
22nd, June 2016)

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