Demands for resignation and apology after Labour councillor harangues Bedroom Tax victim

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
The leader of North Lanarkshire council is facing calls to resign and apologise after he left a disabled woman, who faces eviction over Bedroom tax arrears, in a state of fear and alarm after turning up on her doorstep to confront her.
 
Labour councillor Jim McCabe arrived unannounced at the home of wheelchair bound Lorraine Fraser and walked in uninvited after she opened the door.

She told the Daily Record: “I was really shaken.  He walked in after me.

“I didn’t invite him in.  He started telling me I wasn’t to speak to anyone else or do more interviews.  I felt frightened, intimidated and harassed in my home and I’ve lodged a complaint against him.”

McCabe turned up at the woman’s home after he himself had been paid a visit at his own home by the disabled mother of two.  Accompanied by a reporter from the Daily Record, Mrs Fraser was angry that the local authority had begun legal proceedings to evict her because of bedroom tax arrears.

According to the paper, McCabe, who leads the Labour group at North Lanarkshire Council began haranguing the disabled woman, repeatedly ordering her to listen.

“You are not getting evicted.” […] “Are you hearing me?  Listen to what I’m saying.  I’m telling you, you are not getting evicted.  Are you listening to me?” […] “Just listen to what I’m telling you.”

He then claimed any lack of communication was the fault of Mrs Fraser.  “All you had to do was lift the phone and I would have come out to the house to see you.”

Asked why he himself hadn’t contacted her, he replied: “I don’t have a problem.  It’s you that has the problem.”

The episode took place after she revealed the Labour run local authority was planning to evict her over Bedroom tax arrears totalling just £248.  After leaving Mrs Fraser’s home, the Labour councillor then phoned a friend of Mrs Fraser, John Park, who heads a local Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation, to apologise.

Head of the Anti-Bedroom Tax Federation, Tommy Sheridan immediately called for the Labour Councillor to resign.  Opposition councillors at North Lanarkshire are also demanding McCabe should go.

SNP MSP Mr Hepburn has called on the shamed North Lanarkshire Council leader to apologise and for the local authority to adopt a policy of No Bedroom Tax Evictions.

Mr Hepburn said: “Mr McCabe’s behaviour over this incident is utterly shameful. He must apologise for haranguing Ms Lorraine Fraser, the eviction-threatened disabled tenant, and to the people of North Lanarkshire.

“The SNP Bedroom Tax Declaration was created to protect the most vulnerable and avoid council tenant evictions. If McCabe again refuses to sign it then Johann Lamont must step up and be accountable for her council leader’s actions.

The MSP added: “McCabe previously said that the Bedroom Tax was the ‘the single worst piece of legislation’ that he had ever seen. On that basis I am hopeful that he will give serious consideration to his actions and words in the past couple of days and how he directs the council on matters surrounding Bedroom Tax arrears in the future.

“Unless Labour in North Lanarkshire takes measures urgently then more of the most vulnerable people in our society will be afraid of being threatened with being unfairly forced from their homes because of Westminster’s Bedroom Tax – and Jim McCabe’s already damaged political reputation will be in tatters.”

However a defiant McCabe denied intimidating Mrs Fraser and insisted he had been invited to her house and had merely assisted her because the motor on her wheelchair was not working.

McCabe later told the paper: “I called at the lady’s house, and, on being told she was at the local shop, I approached her and asked if I could see her.

“She agreed, and, as the motor on her wheelchair was not working, I assisted her back to her house.

“I spoke to her quietly and gently and assured her of my help.

“At no time did I intimidate her in any way whatsoever.”