Archive for the ‘housing’ Category

Leicester – a smarter city

June 13, 2018


To create a smarter city:
Signs are installed,
to attract exhaust fumes
and be daubed with graffiti.

In this smarter city,
the address points forlornly
to Page Not Found.
Your search did not find any results.

To create a smarter city:
The council chops down trees,
holding them responsible
for ‘anti-social behaviour’.

Create a smarter city.
Protect our few wild sanctuaries.
Don’t try to improve on Nature.
Living things should be left
to flourish in peace.

In this smarter city,
we will build cycle paths, not link roads.
We will take our buses back.
We will re-open closed libraries,
use empty offices for housing.

In this smarter city,
people will no longer sleep on streets;
ordinary people will regain their voice
and demand what should be theirs.
We can provide for all.

Ballad of James McLean

March 28, 2017

Listen here –

This tale is all too sadly true –
James McLean, he walked the talk.
To London streets, where homeless folk
warm hands on steaming cups of brew.

In Leicester, likewise, courageous stand;
he pitched his tents on Jubilee Square.
Mayor Soulsby, angry at protest there,
Served him notice to quit the land.

But public ground belongs to all;
The Diggers, once fought for such a right.
We have no choice, except to fight,
No longer to be held in thrall.

Moved on, James struck on pastures new,
Nearby the Old Town Hall.
Providing shelter, comradeship too.
Sir Soulsby, he still had the gall

to impose an unjust fine on him:
good James did nothing wrong.
Leicester in Bloom’s all proper and prim
But I’d rather see the homeless throng

provided with places for their needs;
hostel funding should not be cut.
New Labour councillors claim to heed
calls for more resources . . . but

Blairites cry tears of Tory blue,
their words don’t match their deeds.
False claims of  building houses new,
while poor are thrown on the streets.

A Mayor’s vast salary will console;
Soulsby’s never suffered on the dole.
‘Gainst cruel hypocrisy, ruthless cant,
we must, like James, protest and rant.

Homeless services, they must stay,
the fat-cats must be booted out.
Capital’s greed has had its day,
let people protest, hear us shout.

As cuts hit home, we realise
We must all strike and organise,
like James McLean, who made his stand,
and occupied our council land.



A week is a long time in politics . . .

February 24, 2015

The Green Party leader, Natalie Bennett, had an interview today, which was at best, “awkward” on LBC radio. She was unable to spell out the financial details of her party’s plans to build 500,000 council houses. Given that this was supposed to be part of their manifesto launch, the interview did not come across at all well.

While it is true that there is a crisis in housing, and that people are being exploited by unregulated private sector landlords, the Greens are unwilling to take the necessary steps to solve the situation.

This would involve taking housing stock back under the democratic control of local people; using the powers of local councils to utilise the thousands of empty properties which are lying vacant to provide social housing; for investment in a mass programme of council house building and renovation to meet demand.

The resources are there in society to provide housing to meet our needs, but the problem is systemic and simply taxing private landlords is not an answer. Here are the Socialist Party’s alternative, to solve the problems of homelessness and unaffordable rents –

In other political news, today hasn’t been great for the main parties either, with Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind both being caught out selling their services to reporters. At least Rifkind has had the decency to fall on his sword and resign. Any chance of Jack Straw doing the honourable deed for once?

And finally, a senior member of the Labour Party in Scotland, Robert McNeill, has tweeted this helpful infographic – asking Labour voters to tactically support the Tories or Lib Dems in order to avoid an SNP meltdown for Labour in Scotland.tweet

So what is the alternative to parties of incompetence, greed, corruption, austerity and dishonesty?

Fortunately, there is also TUSC – the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition, which is standing 100 Parliamentary candidates and is aiming to stand 1000 local council candidates in the upcoming elections. Many TUSC candidates pledge to take the average wage of a worker in their constituency if elected, far less than the £60,000 Rifkind thinks it is “unrealistic” to expect him to scrape by on.

Join the fight to build an alternative for the 99%.

Join the Leicestershire Against the Cuts protest

October 23, 2010

Leicestershire Against Cuts is a broad-based campaign to defend our public services. It is supported by Leicester and District Trades Council and local UNISON, NUT and PCS branches. We are all in this together, except for the fat cats at the top – and we all need to unite to save our jobs and services.

It has organised a march from Victoria Park cafe to the Clocktower on Saturday 30th October. Assemble at 12 noon

Under the Tory / Lib Dem proposals, housing benefit is being cut back at the same time as people are being forced out of council housing if their income goes above a certain level. Rents will rise to 90% of market value, forcing working-class families into ghettos.

In Leicestershire, the council is slashing 1,000 jobs. Services for the elderly, bus routes and community facilities are being axed. Our central library is under threat of closure.

Over 1 million young people are unemployed, but jobs are under threat at job centres and at Connexions, an agency which helps young people find jobs. This is madness when young people cannot find decent employment and the council is axing jobs.

700 jobs are under threat at Leicester’s hospitals, 1,400 at the Primary Care Trust. Instead our NHS budget is to be handed over to GPs, with no experience of running hospital budgets. Our hospitals are being turned into Foundation Trusts, which will have to compete with each other for patients and can be taken over by the private sector.

Comprehensive education is being destroyed by “Free Schools” and by academy schools , which can be run by private companies or religious groups. Fight to maintain a decent education for all children.

PFI deals hand over the running of our hospitals, schools and public services to private companies. They are wasteful and expensive as they can last for 30 years and tie us into delivering services, even if these are no longer needed.

Leicester Against Cuts is saying that these cuts are not necessary. There is an alternative.

We say NO to cuts and closures. Ordinary people should not have to pay for an economic crisis, which was caused by the boom / bust failures of capitalism. Why should the most vulnerable in society have to suffer, when bankers are raking in huge bonuses? The cabinet is made up of millionaires – it is OK for them to send their kids to private schools and book themselves into private hospitals. I do not think it is OK for the rest of us to suffer as a result of their hypocrisy.

We demand:
No more cuts or job losses. We need to defend our public services.
For services to be run democratically; for local people to have a real say in what they want.

Direct, public funding of schools, health centres and hospital building programmes. No to fat-cats profiting from our public services.
Hospitals, schools, libraries should be run to provide a service, not to make a profit for privateers.

We CAN afford to invest in our public services:
Instead of axing hundreds of thousands of civil servant jobs, use them to collect the tax owed by the non-doms and the rich Don’t believe the lie that there is no money left. In 1945, Britain was ravaged by the Second World War & debt was much higher. But we built the NHS and the welfare state. People fought for better services then and we need to do the same now.


We are all users of public services. If jobs are cut, there will be less money for consumers to spend. Many private companies depend on the public sector for contracts and if there are massive public sector cuts, this could send us back into recession. Public services are there for everybody, whether they work for the private or the public sector. We need a united fight to save our NHS, our schools, council services and libraries which are under threat of closure.

We need to stand up now, before it is too late. We need a mass movement of ordinary people, demanding investment in our hospitals, our schools and our council in order to build an alternative to cuts and privatisation.

The problem of homelessness

July 30, 2010

Today, I read an article in the Big Issue which gave the new Tory housing minister lots of space to go on about their plans to slash the housing budget, whilst still being “concerned” about the vulnerable in society.

This prompted me to fire off the following angry letter:

Dear Editor

I was dismayed by the article “The State of Things to Come” (Big Issue no.908) which presented the coalition government’s policies on homelessness.

The Tory / Lib Dem coalition is freezing housing benefit. Shelter claims that in many cases, people will lose 40% of their rent. In some local authority areas in London, there are no private rents available for less than the cap on housing benefit. This will ghettoise social housing and force thousands of people on to the streets. Nowhere was this mentioned in the article.

Instead, the Big Issue gave space to Grant Shapps, the new housing minister, who talked about a “personalised service” to the homeless, and more choice in the way that help is offered – i.e. the coalition plan for individual budgets, which is basically a carte blanche for private companies to profit from homelessness and to soak up public funding in doing so. Why was this not challenged? The state has a responsibility to house the vulnerable and the homeless and the Lib Dems/Tories are going back on this fundamental principle, in effect washing their hands of the problem.

At least the government seems to be facing up to the high numbers of homeless people and the under-reporting of the problem under Labour. However, the article fails to point out the root cause of homelessness, caused by Thatcher in the 1980s, of the Right to Buy scheme which has decimated council housing and caused private rental costs to soar, the appalling lack of investment in council house building by all the mainstream parties, the 4.5m people on waiting lists for council housing and 2.6m people living in overcrowded conditions.

The government’s “solution”? Reliance on the voluntary sector and privatisation. It is nonsensical to assume that the voluntary sector can somehow step in to fill the gap. People already have to work long hours just to make ends meet – are they to be expected to follow this up with a stint at a local homeless shelter at the weekend? Shapps says that the housing budget has to be cut because we cannot afford it. Yet, after 1945, when the country was in deeper debt than it is at present, hundreds of thousands of council homes were built.

Publications like The Big Issue need to expose the right wing lie that we cannot afford public services, not allow spin doctors like Grant Shapps to promote a society where our right to social housing is being snatched away. I would like to see an article in the paper, which gave one of the smaller parties, like the Socialist Party, put its case for social housing which would solve the problem of homelessness once and for all. After all, as Militant Labour, by leading a mass struggle against Tory cuts, it secured funding to build 5,000 council houses in Liverpool. The involvement of the private sector leads to housing to be seen as a way to make money rather than an essential human right.

Sources – Militant Labour’s record, Cuts to housing benefit