Wednesday, July 31st, 2013Merseyside Activists Face Down Thieving Bailiffs
The woman - who is in her fifties and a stroke survivor - had lived at the Knowsley Housing Trust property for many years. Her husband had been killed in an industrial incident, and her children had left home, leaving her home "underoccupied" in the eyes of the government, who hit her with the bedroom tax in April, and her arrears quickly grew.
Knowsley Housing Trust evicted the woman last week. At Saturday's 'Enuf Is Enuf' event in Liverpool city centre, her daughter described how she got on her knees to beg bailiffs not to throw her out of her home. These pleas fell on deaf ears, and she was informed that she had four weeks to remove her property from the house, which was initially left tinned up with pet animals trapped inside. However, on Tuesday the woman was told the bailiffs would be coming for her things today. It was at this point she made her first contact with local anti-bedroom tax activists, and they planned to form a "ring of steel" around the door of the building.
On Wednesday morning, with "ring of steel" in place, a Knowsley Housing Trust van drove past and drove on down the road, but the bailiffs did not call. Clearly, the woman at the centre of it all is still in a desperate situation, but she is receiving solidarity from people determined to help her.
Please let Knowsley Housing Trust know what you think of their behaviour: @knowsleyhousing; 0151 290 7000, https://www.facebook.com/knowsleyhousingkht.
Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Wirral Estate Rallies to Oppose Bedroom Tax
|Outside the One Stop Shop. Photo: @rpattinson83|
The demonstration began at a quarter to twelve, and walked just over a mile to the One Stop Shop, where several residents handed in their latest appeal forms, and signed a petition. The event was entirely self-organised and stewarded by bedroom tax campaigners, with no involvement from police. It was the first Wirral demo of any kind outside of Wallasey and Birkenhead town centre in many years, and all the more remarkable for taking place during the middle of a week day.
Maybe ten people from bedroom tax campaigns across Merseyside made the journey to Rock Ferry to offer their solidarity, but the bulk of the participants were from Woodward Road - an extraordinary achievement for a grassroots community organisation. Women, men and children all played their part to make as much noise as possible, and really announced their group's existence to the rest of Rock Ferry. Some held homemade placards and banners with pride, while others blew whistles and chanted.
One particular chant - so familiar to long-time campaigners - took on a poignant new meaning in the mouths of children on their first ever demonstration. "Whose streets? Our streets!" shouted young people on the streets where they have grown up, but from which they are now threatened with removal for the crime of poverty.
When the procession reached the One Stop Shop, speeches were made appeals were handed in en masse, with staff looking quite bemused and flustered at being greeted by a demonstration at work.
In the scheme of things, fifty people at a demonstration might not seem like a lot, and indeed one passerby who uploaded photos to the 'Wirral Talk' website described it as "Very Small Bedroom Tax March". But what the photographer probably didn't realise was that this was the work of just one estate.
While most 'left' parties focus their attentions on the small proportion of the working class who are unionised, the ruling class austerity onslaught is creating whole communities who have nothing to lose from fighting back. The tragedy is that there are many other Woodward Road estates where people have yet to collectively organise, and where individuals feel desperately alone. May the growing Woodward Road resistance inspire people around Merseyside, and throughout the whole country!