First off, a reminder of our next organising meeting, which is this Wednesday, 21st June, at 7pm at the UNISON offices at 160a Woodhouse Lane, LS2 9EN We’d particularly like to welcome new members, whether you can give just a bit of time or are looking to be more committed.
With the Tory party in disarray, and a clear message from the electorate that people have had enough of cuts, privatisations and running down of public services, this appears to be an excellent time to step up our demands for more genuine social housing, more rights for tenants, and reversal of benefit cuts which are threatening people’s ability to keep a roof over their head.
People understand that it is simply a lie to say there is no alternative to austerity; and the idea that “nothing we do will make a difference” no longer holds water. It is likely that there will be another election soon, and that there will be a good chance of electing a Labour government which is committed to expanding genuine social housing provision, scrapping sanctions and privatised medical assessments (WCAs), and reversing many of the harsh benefit cuts we have seen including the bedroom tax, the removal of housing benefit from under-22s, and the recent cuts to ESA (WRAG group). Even without a fresh election, we have much more leverage than we had a couple of months ago!
Voting will never be enough on its own; it is desperately important that we keep up the pressure on the current weakened government, and keep pushing for even stronger policies from Labour (for example, a commitment to scrap the benefit cap which is causing such incredible hardship and anxiety for parents of young children and for those with physical and mental health disabilities). Most importantly, we must continue to build networks of solidarity and support in our neighbourhoods and citywide, not only in campaigns but in all the things which bring people together to form connections, break down barriers and jointly strive to make our lives better.
Please get in touch if you can help out with stalls: we will be outside Park Place job-centre at the follwoing times:
Wednesday 21st June, 10 – 12
Thursday 22nd June, 11 – 1
Wednesday 28th June, 10 – 12
Thursday 29th June, 11 – 1
We will have Hands Off Our Homes flyers, information, and sign-up sheets, Stop Sanctions petitions and advice flyers, and also information for people wanting to join Unite Community – a union branch for people who are not in regular waged work (eg students, people on ESA or JSA, pensioners, carers – or just people who are interested in campaigning around welfare, public services, housing etc).
Please note our HOOH number is now 07930966205. Do get in touch if you know of a good place to do a stall or address a meeting of any kind.
There will be a demo in London this Saturday, meeting in Parliament Square at 12 noon. This is organised by the Axe the Act campaign, against the 2016 Housing and Planning Act, sell-offs and demolitions of social housing, demanding rent controls for the private sector, etc. Axe the Act can help with travel expenses if anyone would like to travel down on Saturday. These events are generally pretty London-centred, so it is good to have representation of campaigns in the North – and a good opportunity to see London and meet other campaigners.
Also, on 1st July, there is a national demonstration “Not One Day More” called by People’s Assembly and supported by a wide range of groups, campaigners and trade unions. This is expected to be a massive demonstration of determination to finally see the back of poverty wages, bad housing, underfunded public services, expensive privatisations and the rest. Coaches will need to be booked in good time: the Peoples Assembly website should be carrying details of local transport, and it is also being arranged by trade unions – try http://www.unitetheunion.org/ if you are a Unite member, otherwise http://www.unison-
Some important information
Following the unspeakable horror of the recent fire at Grenfell Tower in Kensington, many residents of Leeds tower blocks may be concerned about the safety of their own buildings, especially those which have recently received external cladding under PFI schemes (eg in Little London). We have been in touch with councillors, and have been informed that there will be a full safety review of all Leeds tower blocks. However, the most important thing for Leeds residents to know for now is that the cladding used on Leeds blocks is not the same as that used at Grenfell, and is of a fire retardant type. There will be more information available shortly.
Clearly a lot of questions need to be asked following this horrendous event, not least about the dangers of outsourcing chains in buildings and renovations, lack of accountability and cost-cutting in the name of profit margins; the silencing of the concerns of people whose lives are held as being of little worth – those on low incomes, single parents, refugees, people who are sick, old or have disabilities – and the complicity of government and elements of local authorities in these abuses. These unimaginably horrible deaths were unnecessary, though many would say inevitable; and although we know our own emotions can only be a faint shadow of what the bereaved, injured, homeless and traumatised are going through and will go through for years to come, we share in their grief and rage.