Guest Post: Report from Wednesday’s night meeting about the Bedroom Tax

Posted: September 12, 2013 by lambethsaveourservices in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

By Ian Townson.

Unite community leafleted many estates in the borough to publicise last night’s meeting at Lambeth Town Hall hosted by Brixton Blog on the bedroom tax. It paid off. The meeting was well attended and and there were many contributions from tenants affected by this wretched tax.

Lambeth town hall, Brixton, London.

Lambeth town hall, Brixton, London. 

Pilgrim Tucker (Unite Community Organiser), Ron Hollis (Lambeth Tenants’ Council) and Elizabeth Maytom (Brixton & Norwood Foodbank) made spirited attacks on the bedroom tax and increasing poverty defending tenants’ rights to secure accommodation free from the fear of eviction. EM told of the shocking rise in the number of people using food banks.

In contrast Cllr Pete Robbins (Housing and Regeneration) smothered everything in the cold, wet blanket of managerial blandness. Without any conception of the need for collective action against the bedroom tax from tenants and allies he reduced everything to the level of individual solutions to individual problems in terms of debt management etc. He also refused point blank to endorse a written document pledging not to evict tenants who fall into arrears because of the bedroom tax. Nor would he promise to prevent the imminent eviction of Charmain Lodge (sign the petition).

He implied in a Brixton Rebel tweet that the only significant advice he was given at the meeting was from a political group from the far left thus giving the impression that his audience consisted of the ‘usual suspects’ of well-versed politicos. This completely ignored the fact that most of the contributions were from tenants and was clearly an attempt to invalidate the meeting.

Lewisham Hospital was given as an example of successful collective action with a demonstration of 25,000 people preventing the closure of the hospital and forcing Jeremy Hunt to run for cover with his tail between his legs. That’s the kind of action we want Lambeth Council to organise. Not much chance of that. We the people of Lambeth allied with others will fix it between us.

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Comments
  1. Update from Ian:
    Thank you to everyone who attended the meeting on Wednesday about ‘How can
    we support people affected by the bedroom tax and benefit cuts’.

    A number of organisations were involved in putting together the meeting and
    below is some information if you want to keep in touch or get involved:

    *The Brixton Blog* who hosted the event (thank you to Zoe, Tim and the
    others for the work they did) can be found at http://www.brixtonblog.com/

    *Pilgrim Tucker spoke from UNITE community* who also played a important
    role in publicising the meeting. For more information on UNITE community
    http://www.unitetheunion.org/growing-our-union/communitymembership/ or
    contact Pilgrim for details of the Lambeth Unite Community Branch
    Pilgrim.Tucker@unitetheunion.org

    *Elizabeth Maytom* spoke on behalf of the Brixton and Norwood foodbank if
    you would like to find out more about what they do or get involved go to
    http://norwoodbrixton.foodbank.org.uk/.

    *Lambeth Housing Activists* were involved in organising the meeting
    together with the blog and distributed thousands of leaflets to publicise
    it. We are a group of activists from various Tenants and Residents
    Associations (TRAs) and housing and homelessness campaign groups that meet
    regularly to co-ordinate campaigns and to organise protest actions about
    the increasing problems of homelessness and lack of council housing in
    Lambeth. *If you are interested in knowing more about what we are doing
    please reply to this message and we will add you to our contact list or you
    can come to our next meeting on Thursday 26th September 6.30pm Hambrook
    House*, Porden road on Brixton Hill (just up from the town hall). Among
    other issues we will be discussing some of the proposals that came from
    last wednesday’s meeting such as organising a deputation or a march to
    Parliament in opposition to the welfare ‘reforms’.
    Join the meeting on Facebook
    https://www.facebook.com/events/451880988244116/

    *Cllr Peter Robbins*(cabinet member for housing & regeneration) spoke from
    Lambeth council.
    http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/moderngov/mgUserInfo.aspx?UID=251

    *Ron Hollis spoke on behalf of Lambeth Tenants Council*
    http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/moderngov/mgOutsideBodyDetails.aspx?ID=201

    *UPDATE:*

    The case of Charmain Lodge a vulnerable woman with serious medical problems
    who is facing eviction from her council property was raised at the meeting (
    http://www.brixtonblog.com/hundreds-sign-petition-against-lambeth-council-over-charmain-lodge-shortlife-eviction/15955
    ).

    A large number of people at the meeting signed a petition calling on
    Lambeth council not to evict her. We would like people to sign the on-line
    petition and to share widely with friends, workmates and neighbours.

    https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/lambeth-council-stop-the-eviction-of-charmain-lodge-on-the-19th-of-september-2

    Since the meeting Charmain has not made any progress with Lambeth Council
    regarding the date of her eviction and so *we will be **meeting at 12 noon
    on Monday 16th September at Lambeth Town Hall to hand over the petition to
    the council and press on them the urgency of the situation.*

    *We would like as many people as possible to come down and show the
    strength of feeling in the local community against how the council is
    behaving to Charmain and other vulnerable tenants.*

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