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Another great post from “Another Angry Voice”.
“In April 2014 the Tory led government introduced a new punishment regime for the unemployed called “Help to Work”. The scheme uses the threat of absolute destitution (via benefits sanctions) to compel the long-term unemployed into giving up their labour rights and working for no wage.”
In this article Thomas G. Clark outlines 12 significant criticisms of the scheme, and the misleading way it has been presented to the public.
A Libertarian Socialist Rant – Find more videos here.
“I’m over the moon!”
The words of Mrs Gina Banash, on hearing the news that her ten months of living hell were over.
On Friday morning, Mrs Banash of Civic Drive received a call from her Housing Manager at Ipswich Borough Council, to tell her that the council were no longer giving two neighbouring flats to the drug rehabilitation charity, CRI, for their planned expansion.
The organisation, which has been operating from the previous Civic Drive pub premises since early 2011, had successfully gained funding in March last year to convert the council flats above their premises into a “recovery centre”. Aimed at working further with the six hundred clients on their books, CRI hoped to offer music, dance and other activities to their clients seeking a life away from drugs and alcohol – at the same time increasing their operating premises by more than double. The flats CRI wanted to convert included Mrs Banash’s home and two other flats recently vacated by tenants.
Back in 2010, as newly elected Borough Councillor for Alexandra Ward, I’d unsuccessfully opposed CRI’s planned change of use for the ‘Victoria’ pub site and what followed were a number of meetings with residents with complaints about the transformation works whilst they were being carried out and in the months following their opening, countless problems with CRI clients and their associates who were abusing residents of the flats. In fact CRI accepted that there was a problem when they applied to IBC last year for change of use for the flats and had gained funding to not only convert them, but enable the moving of any remaining tenants.
When CRI submitted their plans to convert the properties, I approached Ipswich Spy, who ran an article bringing Mrs Banash’s plight to the public and working closely with Gina, helped her to write a strong letter of opposition. Accompanied with criticisms by Planning and Environmental Health, a sudden withdrawal of the application came just before Christmas. Though we celebrated this temporary victory, we knew that another application would likely be submitted – and it was, in early January. In the meantime, Mrs Banash saw growing levels of support from friends, bloggers and Facebook users, with a campaign that went viral – piling pressure onto Ipswich Borough Council.
Friday saw the sudden unexpected termination of this ten month battle with CRI and the authority, as the Borough Council finally bowed to pressure and withdrew their offer to CRI, ending months of hell for an Ipswich pensioner who wasn’t going to be bullied out of her home – a home she raised her family in and had lovingly looked after for 28 years.
This plight, is not only a well deserved victory for Mrs Banash, but a victory for people power, demonstrating that public pressure and constructive objection to a ridiculous planning application really can work. Not only is Gina’s home safe, but the flats will be put back where they belong – in the IBC housing stock.
Note – At the time of publishing this article, the planning application was still live, and though Mrs Banash has been told that her neighbouring properties are not to be converted, until the application is withdrawn a 2000 word letter of objection will be on the desk of planners this morning.
So, Labour intend to reintroduce the 50p tax rate, thinking they can fool people into believing that Labour are the party for the ‘working classes’ and those struggling to get by during this period of pretend austerity. The nasty rich people (often stereotyped as ALL being Tories) will pay to make things better for the economy, because the Tories, and their scapegoats, the Liberal Democrats, cut tax by five fricking pence on the pound, while continuing the policies of previous governments to demonise the poor and harp on about the ‘welfare’ budget, which is small, if you don’t include pensioners.
The fact of the matter is, no matter WHICH party you vote for, the ‘poor’ will get continue to get screwed from all angles, the rich will continue to get away with clever tax evasion tactics and get richer and whoever is in opposition will play the same populist political game with stupid promises that too many people are gullible enough to believe.
The divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ is getting bigger and the power of private multi-national corporations gets bigger and bigger. Fracking is suddenly safe, and even bribing the people with cash incentives is the order of the day.
Democracy? Yeah right!
Last night (21-1-2014) was no ordinary night at Ipswich Borough Council’s, Grafton House. For, it was on this night that Ipswich political history was made! The meeting of IBC’s Executive Committee saw the first video recording of any council meeting by a member of the public or journalist. A big hat tip to Ipswich Spy, who were the first of what I hope will be an increasing number of journalists, bloggers and interested parties who will attend and record meetings open to the public.
This victory for transparency enables those unable (or desired) to attend, the opportunity to see our local politicians ‘at work’. Meetings which usually see little or no attendance, can now be recorded and shared.
This ‘spotlight’ will inevitably make our local politicians more accountable than ever, hopefully inviting more criticism (and praise?) and enabling many to make a more informed decision on election day. No longer are we limited to viewing the activities of our MP’s, we now have the opportunity, thanks currently to Ipswich Spy, the opportunity to witness – as I did as a councillor – some of the childish tittle-tattle that takes place at Full Council, along with reasoned debate in other committees, which tend to be far less partisan.
However, until the law changes and the constitution of IBC is amended, you can’t just turn up to a public meeting and start recording. There is due process and interested parties need to complete an application form, three days before the meeting they wish to record. Ipswich Borough Council will be putting the necessary form on their website soon, or call 01473 432000.
The Executive spent how long discussing rent rises?
This historical first, saw Ipswich Labour fulfil one of their criticisms – Some of the shortest Executive meetings on record. Discussion of the rent rises, which will see the working poor foot an increase of nearly THREE times the rate of inflation, took just THREE minutes of the ‘champagne socialists’ time!
Watch the video from 8:48 to witness Cllr Mowles very brief rundown of the increases, quickly stating that this is in line with Government guidelines. Don’t expect Cllr Mowles to mention that these ‘guidelines’ have historically been ignored – some of which would see Council Housing rents rise to levels close to that of the profit-making private sector.
The Executive all agreed, without question, (except an unaudible comment by an officer) to put this recommendation to Full Council for it to be passed, and passed it will be, unless we see major dissent in the Labour ranks.
Over the coming weeks I look forward to seeing the first Full Council meeting being recorded. Take it from me, it’s all a show, and can – on occasion – show our political leaders in very poor light. Who knows the presence of cameras might calm some people down a little!
In that joke of a local newspaper – The Ipswich Star – today, Tory MP, Dr Dan Poulter criticised Labour run Ipswich Borough Council for deciding to proceed with plans to build another 300 badly needed council homes. Dr Poulter reckons -
“If the council has money available for capital projects it should look at developing community facilities – there is a desperate need for more community facilities in north west Ipswich and yet the borough says it cannot afford anything.
“I am all in favour of building more affordable homes. Elsewhere in my constituency, in Great Blakenham and other communities, they are being built by the private sector. There is no need for the council to get involved like this.”
I guess you’d expect a Tory to say that anyway, they’ve come up with the great idea that “Right to Buy” should offer more discount to tenants, enabling them to get on the property ladder for less. I think it’s pointless getting credit to buy a house anyway. I don’t want to be indebted to institutions that rip people off, ruin livelihoods, destroy businesses, get bailed out with the money we’ve paid to the government in taxes and then claim multi-million pound bonuses for getting away with ripping everyone off in the first place. We live in a world fuelled by credit. It enslaves us to those who lend us the money to buy the things we’re supposed to want; doing jobs we hate to pay for it, keeping the economy going, helping that infamous “1%” with their greed for power and money. No thanks mate, I’ll pass on that one cheers.
I used to sit on the National Tenant Council, which transpired to be a pointless waste of over a £million and was quickly squashed by the incoming Coalition Government. As one of 50 people that sat on a council, representing millions of social housing tenants, I believed -and still do- in the role of governments to provide housing for people, at reasonable (non-profit making) rents. No debts to banks and corrupt financial institutions that get help from governments to avoid paying tax. Tax is only for the peasants!
We need more social housing – even some Tories will agree with you, though many think once you earn above a certain amount, you must leave your council home and buy one of your own. Stupid if you ask me. So, I think we need much more social housing, some to replace all the properties Maggie helped people to buy for starters. We’re really short of housing in Ipswich and you’d think I’d be congratulating Ellesmere and the Labour machine of Ipswich for intending to build large numbers of social housing?
A certain “Mr Cynical” sums up my feelings very well in the comments of this article – http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/ipswich_borough_to_build_nearly_300_homes_despite_mp_s_opposition_1_3206441
In case someone’s decided that they’re offended by his words and it’s removed from the paper’s website, here’s a transcript.
“What everyone is forgetting is how are our Labour run council going to be able to afford to build these new council homes. I’ll tell you how – By increasing the rents of low earning council tenants at twice the rate of inflation and ensuring that even pensioners and the disabled pay Council Tax. Don’t believe the hype about central government telling advising them of the amount to increase rents by – Labour ignored the government in 2012 over increases and ignores the government when it comes to transparency when it comes to meeting, by not allowing the broadcast or recording by members of the public of ANY of the meetings, so no-one can see that democracy in this town is a phallacy. Decisions are made behind closed doors in Silent Street. It’s hypocritical to harp on about ensuring people get a living wage in Ipswich, when they’re taxing the poor even more to pay for council housing. Ipswich Labour only want more council tenants, because the vast majority of people in social housing foolishly believe that Labour stands up for the working man or woman. They don’t.”
A big hat tip to Mr Cynical.
Ipswich Labour, you are taking from the poor to pay for more housing, yet pretending to be helping the very people you are robbing, by going on about a living wage and protecting the public sector. Your misleading tactics WILL be your downfall one day.
It’s just a shame that all the other political parties aren’t any better. Democracy doesn’t exist. It’s all a show to make you think your vote actually makes a difference. It doesn’t and won’t. The few people with all the money and power are always in control!
Get rid of street drinkers?
What, because they are subhuman and don’t deserve to grace the public areas of Ipswich? Troubled souls who for whatever reason have found themselves in the situation they’re in now – Some who have served and fought for their country, some who were sexually abused, others who had good jobs and lost everything. If you’ve been in any of those situations it is so very very easy to blot out the pain with drink and drugs, which if continued will become the whole reason for your existence – scoring the next hit or getting cheap strong alcohol – because if you don’t, you will fit and potentially die. Do you know what it feels like to NEED to drink to stay alive, when it’s no longer about numbing the pain, but to prevent a fit – a very scary experience I can tell you.
Total distrust of the ‘system’ soon kicks in – what do the police or the council do? They take benches away, move those considered ‘subhuman’ on and arrest them, ban them from the one place where they might get enough money to buy more alcohol. Many don’t even get benefits, because they’re not looking for work – how can they, when their life consists of getting enough money for a drink or a hit.
“Reducing the Strength” – that pathetic police strategy, claiming success – and with the ‘help’ of the Ipswich Star hoodwinking people into thinking that the police had actually helped a large number of people. That was a load of bullshit. Convincing bullshit, though – they even fooled the national media and other councils who also think this narrow-minded prohibition, which persecutes the alcoholic and the businesses that supply them, is the way forward. But, hey, who cares? Street drinkers are subhuman scum, right? The police in Ipswich were – and still are – deluded by using that form of voluntary prohibition, ‘strongly encouraging’ off-licences to stop stocking the usual cheap strong forms of alcohol and punishing those who are not psychic and can’t identify the ‘subhuman’ street drinker whom they are apparently not allowed to serve. Apparently by removing the supply, this forces the alcoholic street drinker to stop drinking. No it doesn’t – it just makes them more resourceful. One off-licence in Wherstead Road refused to play ball and it wasn’t long before people were all forced to gather near to one shop – which made the situation worse. Previous attempts at a wet area in 2010 were useless and poorly managed by IBC and the police – The substance misuse officer didn’t have a clue what they were doing and the police were so busy trying to sweep the issue under the carpet, claiming nationally that they had made some kind of victory against troubled souls they couldn’t engage with. What did they expect? They haven’t made an ounce of difference, except for wasting time, effort and their precious budget nicking people, instead of looking at dealing with the situation realistically, just because a few narrow-minded bigots don’t like to see troubled souls drinking in the street.
It can’t be argued, that for many rehab is the only way to break this cycle of slow self destruction, but the alcoholic must have a real desire to quit, but even then in reality it isn’t an option – unless you’re really lucky. Most just get to go to some group, where no one really opens up, for fear of showing the emotional wound that is killing them – Would you share your innermost pain and open up to a bunch of strangers who might not be about next week, telling their mates what you said. Those lucky to possibly get the funding to go away have to spend weeks proving that they will last 12 weeks in a fucking horrible intense situation with group work and counselling all fucking day, every fucking day. If they don’t think you’ll last 12 weeks, they won’t give you the funding, because they’ll lose a load of money to the rehab (usually the cheapest one possible) and the fact you had actually really tried will be looked down upon and not something to be rewarded because of the fucking money.
The services that are supposed to help alcoholics in Ipswich, fail, time after time – running a joke of a service, without a clue and created only because funding is available and they know how to tick a few boxes. They have no understanding or more importantly respect of their clients. Workers at supposed treatment centres treat people with suspicion – like thieves they can’t trust – and harping on at some length about what alcohol is doing to them; stupidly thinking that the same punishing techniques used by doctors will scare someone into sense. And ensure it’s done on budget. It’s all about balance sheets, not humanity. No wonder so many people are falling through the net and dying as a result.
There is a town in England where I have been for a while. You don’t see ANY people drinking on the streets. There is a ‘wet centre’ – somewhere safe and secure where agencies who actually know what they’re doing can help those who want it – Those that don’t want to quit drinking still choose to drink there (unlike the lame attempt IBC made a few years ago), because there is no pressure, no authority to treat them like subhumans, but there is somewhere safe, with people to help them out during this most chaotic time of their lives.
That is how IBC should be dealing with this issue and the Suffolk DAAT need to take a long hard look at how they dish out their money. Remember it was their wisdom in decision making that nearly saw the demise of the nationally recognised agency that is ‘The ICENI Project’ , a group of people that have turned the lives of the most desperate into something worth living for. I should know. They saved my life.