Bedroom Tax campaign group calls for end to Labour/Tory alliance


  By Angela Haggerty
Activists from the No2BedroomTax campaign have called on Labour to “immediately disband” their local council coalition with the Conservatives in South Ayrshire after tenants were served with eviction proceedings notices earlier this month.
The group said it would lobby the council at the next full meeting in South Ayrshire on 19 December with the objective of breaking the coalition, and local activists are understood to be in favour of a Labour/SNP coalition – something SNP councillors have already indicated they would be open to.

“I feel that we have been let down by the Labour group in South Ayrshire,” said Wallace Kerr, Ayr resident and member of the No2BedroomTax campaign.  “They promised to help mitigate the effects of the bedroom tax but are in effect supporting Conservative policy.

“The insensitive and crass manner that has been shown by Mr Harry Garland and South Ayrshire Council, especially with the underhand threat to contact children’s services, is completely unacceptable and the tenants involved are entitled to a full written apology, while questions must be asked of Mr Garland’s suitability to his role as director of care at South Ayrshire Council.”

He added: “I believe that the Labour group must immediately disband their coalition with the Tories at South Ayrshire Council and we will continue to protest until we are successful.”

South Ayrshire residents started receiving Notice of Proceedings letters within the last month in preparation for evictions over rent arrears.  Residents were informed that not only could they find themselves liable to pay the legal costs of any court proceedings – plunging them further into debt – but children’s services may be informed if there were any minors in the household.

No2BedroomTax campaign spokesperson Alan Wyllie said:  “I cannot express my anger and disappointment strongly enough at the actions of South Ayrshire Council and the lack of sensitivity when dealing with tenants who have Bedroom Tax arrears.

“But more so, I am perplexed at how a Labour group can join in coalition with the Tories considering the austerity measures emanating from Westminster.  A Tory/Labour coalition is an abomination at any level of politics and in the case of South Ayrshire, it appears that the Labour group has very little influence when he council implements Tory policies.

He added:  “We call on the Labour group to disband their coalition with the Tories and accept the SNP’s offer to form a SNP/Labour coalition.”

It was reported last month in The Ayrshire Post that SNP councillor Douglas Campbell moved a motion at a special meeting of the council calling on it to “restate its opposition to the bedroom tax”, but the move was blocked by the Labour/Conservative coalition.  South Ayrshire Council has 30 councillors, nine of which are Conservative, nine Labour, nine SNP and three Independent councillors.

The latest move from campaigners follows news of the first Bedroom Tax-related eviction in Scotland earlier this month.  The tenant, a young widow with a teenage son, was granted a last minute reprieve after Govan Law Centre and anti-Bedroom Tax campaigners stepped in.

Amid pressure from campaigners, Glasgow Housing Association insisted it had not reversed the original eviction and had instead offered the woman a new tenancy agreement, but it was nonetheless claimed as a victory for protesters determined to intervene on any attempted evictions related to the Bedroom Tax.