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‘When I do absolutely nothing it’s absolutely within your gift to slate me from here until next week’: SolFed & the Bobby Carver Campaign’s Meeting with Brighton Council

On 31st July, members of Brighton Solidarity Federation, along with Bobby Carver and members of his campaign, met with Brighton & Hove City Council’s Executive Director for Neighbourhoods, Communities & Housing, Larissa Reed. You can read more about how this meeting came about here.

Prior to the meeting, ourselves and the Bobby Carver Campaign had issued three clear public demands to the council, which were based on Bobby’s – and others' – experience of the council’s housing department. The demands were as follows:

1. An end to at-a-distance housing suitability assessments
2. That third-party groups are allowed to attend these assessments
3. That any assessments that had exceeded the 8-week deadline were carried out within two weeks of the meeting

Does Brighton Council only care about PR?

UPDATE: since the publication of this article on the afternoon of Monday 10th July 2017, Larissa Reed, Executive Director for Neighbourhoods, Communities & Housing at Brighton council has been in touch to arrange a meeting with Brighton SolFed and the Bobby Carver campaign within the next two weeks. We look forward to hearing how the issues raised below are going to be addressed, and about the changes the council is going to put in place to ensure 'the safest homes possible' for everyone...

 

Tenant Demands Repairs After Council Neglect

For the past three months, Brighton Solidarity Federation has been organising with a tenant whose flat is in a serious state of disrepair, in order to try and get these repair works done. What follows is an account of the council's systematic failure to fulfil their duties toward this tenant.

Liverpool Against the Cuts occupy Liverpool City Council chamber

While delegates from Labour councils across the country met at the BT Convention Centre in Liverpool, likely at public expense, to discuss how best to implement cuts while keeping their council seats under the banner of “Austerity With Fairness”, members of Liverpool Against the Cuts, Birmingham Against the Cuts and comrades from across the country decided to forgo a police pen outside the Convention Centre in favour of occupying the council chamber inside the Town Hall, making it, temporarily at least, the People’s Chamber.

Labour councillors: no friend of the working class

Joe Anderson, the leader of Liverpool City Council, is trying to paint himself as some kind of anti-cuts rebel. In January he joined an anti-cuts march in Liverpool, not long after he wrote to David Cameron to withdraw Liverpool from the Big Society, and then had the cheek to lead a march against cuts in February. This is nothing more than cheap political opportunism, and it should be rejected.

He tells us that the council is “bracing itself” for the cuts. He “warns” us that compulsory redundancies in the council will come. He is “incensed” by Liberal Democrats accusing him of having a “politically motivated” approach to job cuts.

Protests and disruption at Liverpool Town Hall

Members of Liverpool Solidarity Federation were amongst the crowd of 300 people who gathered outside Liverpool Town Hall to protest as the council set its austerity budget. With £91m of cuts on the table, local people and community campaigns - including the Park View Project to rehabilitate alcoholics and the Whitechapel Centre for the homeless as well as more than a few nurseries and SureStart centres - joined activists and campaigners to make the council hear their message.

At first, people huddled on the pavement on both sides of the road. Spirits were high and there was a lot of shouting and chanting, but it wasn't until one woman walked into the road with a banner and everybody else joined in that things really kicked off. This buoyed everybody's spirits even further and there was a mood of defiance in the air.

Victory in campaign to save Levenshulme Baths

On 8 February Labour-run Manchester City Council was the first to announce its budget cuts - £109 million worth. Among community amenities being axed were several libraries, some advice centres and half a dozen fitness and leisure centres. The south Manchester neighbourhood of Levenshulme – ethnically and economically mixed with some pockets of severe deprivation was the worst affected – facing the loss of its leisure centre, Sure Start scheme and its historic swimming pools.

The baths were a contentious choice to cut by the council, which had spent more than £200,000 in 2010 upgrading the facilities  but was insisting full refurbishment was too expensive at more than £300,000 and the only viable option was to close it.

"This is the last thing we want to do" Really?

According to a headline in the Chronicle and Echo, "THE LARGEST cuts faced by Northamptonshire County Council in years have been approved by the Conservative leaders of the authority, despite the politicians admitting it was the last thing they wanted to do."

The last thing they wanted to do?

I can think of at least one option they could have taken.  Any councillor whose conscience was against the cuts could have taken the decision to resign their position.  But they didn't.

There are two conclusions:

1.  They actually did want to vote for the cuts, or

Disruption in Islington town hall

Solidarity Federation members joined a good sizable demo of more than 200 souls who braved the cold to ensure the pressure was kept on Islington Council. Thursday evening (17 February) the council was due to reside over a council budget meeting to determine the nature of cuts in the public services in the borough. The anger from the demo spilled over, and the 'public consultation' in the council building allowing for the hearing to be observed resulted quite rightly in the retreat of the councilors under heckles and 60 protestors being removed by heavy handed means by the police. Massive turn around in fortunes have seen Labour Councilor Catherine West the previous week leading protests of over 1000 protestors to now calling on the police to turn on protestors! How the tables turn when your being held to account, eh Catherine...

Councillor Joe Anderson is no ally of the working class

Joe Anderson, the leader of Liverpool City Council, is trying to paint himself as some kind of anti-cuts rebel. On 29th January he joined an anti-cuts march in Liverpool, not long after he wrote to David Cameron to withdraw Liverpool from the Big Society, and now he is asking people to march against the cuts this Sunday. This is nothing more than cheap political opportunism, and it should be rejected.

He tells us that the council is "bracing itself" for the cuts. He "warns" us that compulsory redundancies in the council will come. He is "incensed" by Liberal Democrats accusing him of having a "politically motivated" approach to job cuts.

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