Hands off our Homes – Almost Weekly Newsletter – 1st September

 Where are we now?

These notes tend to act as minutes of our group meetings, with a few bits and bobs added. Whilst wading through a load of HooHers paperwork I came across the agenda paper for our first meeting to start the campaign in Leeds against the bedroom Tax dated July 2012. So one year on……….

We have not (yet) defeated the dreaded BT but it is good to see that we are mentioned by Councillor Wakefield as he attempts to justify his position in the YEP yesterday (page 19, 29.08.13). “funding for management and maintenance relies on income from rents….as a result, it is not viable for the council to consider writing off arrears.

Councillor Gruen when replying to Iain D’s letter states “as a result a no eviction policy is very difficult to maintain”

Councillor Sobel visited the “sleepover” last Saturday at Victoria Gardens and suggested opposition to the BT would be dealt with on an individual basis.

So the going is about to get tough. Our sources suggest that the council are set to take their opposition to the County Court and will shortly be selecting those tenants who have fallen into arrears and have failed to “engage” with council officers, to be the recipients of a summons for possession. No doubt those considered least deserving of sympathy (single men) will be selected first – they will also be the cheapest to deal with should evictions take place. These will be single men who need a spare room in order to exercise contact with children and also those with mental health issues who will lose the stability of a secure council tenancy.

We agreed that as we have the funds we would recontact all those who have given us their details to try and ensure they feel as confident as possible and as tenants will receive 3or 4 weeks notice of a court hearing we hope to ensure that all will obtain good legal advice and be as well prepared as can be. That requires tenants to keep a record of all contact that they have with their landlord and to inform us of upcoming dates.

We anticipate that possession hearings will be booked for October/ November.

The Sleep Over. On bank holiday Saturday as the heavens opened again some of the facebook group and some of our members erected tents on the paving stones of Victoria Gardens to garner publicity for the anti BT campaign. Councillor Sobel attended to cheer us up (see above) and with others in towns and cities across the country there was a great show of support. Hopefully not too many coughs and sneezes as a result.

Council Tax. We have been informed by a non payer that there is a further council tax court day on Thursday 5th September form 9.45 a.m. We have been able to provide advice in advance and will monitor the situation to see how the Council respond to requests for Council Tax Reduction applications and that in the absence of any agreement being reached as to a payment plan the reaction to a demand for a hearing before Magistrates.

Help with leafleting and advice at court is welcome. Leeds Magistrates Court. Westgate/Headrow

More cuts. The council has asked for assistance in deciding how to cope with further cuts. You can visit <www.leeds.gov.uk/budget>. Try not to be too disappointed.

Inner South Area Committee. Will meet on Wednesday the 4th September at 6.00 p.m. at Tenants Hall Enterprise Centre in Middleton. Residents from Beeston , city and Hunslet and Middleton Park are invited to attend and welfare reform is on the agenda for discussion. This clashes with our next meeting but hopefully some of our group can be there to join in. There is a background paper on the council website which would be a helpful introduction. – Report to Inner South Area Committee – Update on Welfare Reform.

Council Exec Board. Meets Wednesday 4th September at the Civic Hall at 1.00 p.m. and will respond to our earlier delegation. The meeting is open to the public and it would be sensible to contact us to confirm who is going and to arrange to meet up in advance. Do not rely on someone else. If you are free at that time book yourself in for it.

Our next meeting. Leeds trades union centre, North Street, Wednesday 4th September 7.00 p.m.

National Federation Meeting. Saturday 7th September 12 noon until 5.00 p.m. Manchester Friends Meeting house 6 Mount street Manchester 2.

The UN will take evidence between 3 and 4.30. as to the impact of the BT on housing. 5 of us are so far set to go – if more interest contact John on 0113 2629046. Please send us your stories by email if you can’t make the journey so they can be presented to the observers.

Demo at the Tory Party Conference. 29th September 2013. Bookings for free coach travel leaving from outside the West Yorkshire Playhouse at 9.00 a.m. can be made by ringing the Unison office, in office hours 0113 2458442 (mon to sat 9.00.a.m.to 5.00.p.m.) or by emailing the office on branch@leedsunison.org.uk. Leave your email or mobile phone number and a reminder should be sent to you nearer the date. Book early and bring your friends and circulate widely.

Advert. There is a public meeting of the Peoples Assembly 7pm Leeds Met Uni Rose Bowl Tuesday 3rd September. Owen Jones is the main speaker but Hoohers is one of the warm up acts!

That’s it – but if anyone has material for the next edition then please email us

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