“No room for unfair housing!” – Coventry Socialist Students protest against dodgy landlords

“No room for unfair housing!” – Coventry Socialist Students protest against dodgy landlords

No room for unfair housing

No room for unfair housing

Coventry Socialist Students have been campaigning on the issue of sub-standard housing for months, so when we heard about a University-organised “housing fair” on Monday 21st, at which several landlords, letting agencies and student halls companies were advertising their services, we felt we had to protest!

A group of us hung a banner from the balcony of the University Hub which read “No room for unfair housing” and chanted slogans including “Dodgy landlords hear us say, rip off rents? No way!”

Kris O’Sullivan, President of Coventry Socialist Students and a candidate for SU Community Rep, spoke at the protest; “In Coventry, and up and down the country, the university experience is being ruined by dodgy landlords who are charging extortionate amounts of rent for often sub-standard accommodation, and regularly ignore the tenant rights of the student occupants.”

Coventry University has a 28,000 strong student population at any given time; however, there is only a limited amount of purpose-built accommodation for students, meaning the majority have to rent through private landlords.

The University’s security quickly came to get rid of us, but we weren’t going to leave until the landlords got the message!

Security tried to grab our banner

Security tried to grab our banner

We want the university to work with Coventry Council to create an accreditation scheme to register all private landlords, in accordance with SU policy. This in particular will benefit local residents as well as students, we should be united in fighting dodgy landlords. We also want to establish a democratic, student-run letting agency to provide students with an alternative to the existing providers. We also need thousands of new council homes to be built – thousands of Coventry people are on the waiting list, they deserve a decent place to live with affordable rents!

If you’re a student and you want to fight dodgy landlords, for decent housing and for socialism, join Socialist Students!

Labour councillors approve £15 million of cuts

Labour councillors approve £15 million of cuts

Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

Labour controlled Coventry City Council this afternoon voted through a budget that will see £15 million of Tory cuts passed on to the people of Coventry, meaning vital services and jobs will be lost. Rather than put up a fight against cuts from Tory central government, the Labour Council have surrendered without a fight despite calls from local unions to do otherwise.

Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition presented a 1,500 strong petition earlier in the day which was rejected by the Council – see this piece in the Coventry Telegraph for report.

In the coming days we will be doing a more detailed report.

Socialists joined a protest lobby of the Council meeting and will be hosting an election launch rally details as follows –

Wednesday 25th February

7.30pm Methodist Hall, Coventry City Centre,  Cv1 2HA

TUSC supporters

TUSC supporters

Coventry anti-cuts campaigners stage ‘read in’ protest outside (and inside!) Council House

Coventry anti-cuts campaigners stage ‘read in’ protest outside (and inside!) Council House

Council House reception

Council House reception

Dozens of Coventry people campaigning in support of libraries in the city staged a magnificent protest this evening against the proposed cut backs in our city. The event was organised by the campaign to save Coventry libraries and drew support from people across the city who are involved in different campaigns as well as Coventry TUC, Unison, NUT and members of other trade unions.

The protest comes the day before the Council are due to vote on a £15 million cuts budget that would see services across the city slashed. Under public pressure from the campaign the Labour Council had last week announced that they were back tracking on their plans regarding library closures in the city – this is testament to what is possible if ordinary people get organised. See previous article here for more detail on this announcement and what it means.

Protestors gathered outside the Council House, from many different age groups and areas of the city. Protestors read books and newspapers to illustrate what libraries mean to them. Of course they also mean much more, a place to use the internet to make job applications and access council services, to meet other people and feel part of a community. Little wonder people are fighting tooth and nail to keep them.

Support from all ages!

Support from all ages!

After the successful demonstration through Coventry on Saturday, we need to continue this momentum and further build the anti-cuts movement across the city to defend all jobs and services. Our Councillors should expect more protests if they vote through the Budget tomorrow.

Reminder – Lobby the Council, Tuesday 24th Feb, 1-2pm. Outside Council House. No to cuts in our city!

More photos from the protest below.

Jane Nellist, secretary of Coventry TUC

Jane Nellist, secretary of Coventry TUC

Don't close our services

Don’t close our services

Reception area

Reception area

 

 

Hundreds march in Coventry against cuts to local services

Hundreds march in Coventry against cuts to local services

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Coventry Against The Cuts march through the City Centre

Between 2-300 people marched through Coventry on Saturday 21st in a protest against enormous cuts to local services. The march, organised by Coventry TUC and Coventry Against the Cuts, united activists from a variety of trade unions and community campaigns. Flags and banners from Unison, Unite, FBU, NUT and other unions, as well as placards from “Save Our Libraries” campaigners showed the wide range of people who marched.

Many speakers concentrated on Coventry’s Labour council’s role in implementing Tory cuts. Socialist Party member Nicky Downes, Coventry NUT President, called for councillors to “stand up and fight”.

A Unison member who works in a library gave an impassioned speech outlining the current situation which received a loud response from the crowd.

An official from the FBU brought support from his union which was greatly appreciated – firefighters are on strike on Wednesday from 7am for 24 hours in their battle with the government.

Coventry’s Labour Council has already been forced to give some concessions to protesters such as delaying the planned cuts to disabled children’s transport and library closures for a year. This has been the result of campaigning by community groups and unions (especially Unison) across the city including thousands signing petitions and organised protests. Members of the Socialist Party and TUSC have played a role in this for example in Tile Hill and Stoke. The key thing is that protest clearly works!

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Picture from Coventry Telegraph

The budget proposals still include plans to close or reduce many vital services, including youth centres, community centres and even public toilets.

As Dave Nellist pointed out, the council has £81million+ in reserves that they could use to fund services while building a campaign against cuts alongside the people of Coventry, to demand central Government gives our city the money we need for decent services. If our Labour councillors won’t do that, we should replace them with people who will.

One of the most lively groups on the march was a section of young Socialists, including students from Coventry and Warwick University and local sixth forms, many of whom wore bright “£10 Now” shirts to support the campaign for a £10 an hour minimum wage.

There are a number of anti-cuts events this week in Coventry, please get along and show your support for the fight against austerity!

Protests force Coventry Council to delay library closures

Protests force Coventry Council to delay library closures

Protesters outside Earlsdon Library

Protesters outside Earlsdon Library

Coventry Council announced today that all libraries in Coventry will remain open for another year, after protests and petitions across the city against the planned cuts.

Despite only being a “stay of execution” for a year, with Labour councillor David Kershaw admitting that the council will be looking at libraries “sharing” buildings with other groups in the future, this shows that protests and campaigning can work.

“The council are running scared and have responded by delaying the closures for a year, in an attempt to stop the protests – the best way to respond is to keep campaigning against all the cuts.” said Sarah Smith, a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist who has been campaigning to save Tile Hill Library.

Councillor Kershaw’s comment that the libraries may be closing in two years also reveals what we can expect to see under a future Labour government – continued cuts to council grants, leading to our public services being closed. We can’t just “wait for Labour” – we have to fight the cuts!

This decision blows apart the council’s continued claim that “there is no alternative” to cuts, as they have found the money to keep the libraries open for another year. Rather than continuing to slash our services and cut council workers jobs, they should use the £80million+ that they have in reserves to fund services, while building a campaign alongside the people of Coventry to demand central Government gives us the money back. If the councillors aren’t prepared to do that, we should replace them with people who will.

Let’s keep the pressure up and make the demonstration on Saturday massive to drive forward the anti-cuts movement in Coventry!

Coventry Against The Cuts march, Saturday 21st February, 12 midday outside the Transport Museum

Coventry anti-cuts diary!

Coventry anti-cuts diary!

Protestors outside the Council House

Protestors outside the Council House

In the next few weeks there are a number of anti-cuts protests and meetings in and around Coventry. Please make every effort to attend these events – we need to build a mass movement against austerity and capitalism!

Saturday 21st February – Coventry Against the Cuts march in the City Centre, assembling at 12 noon outside the Transport Museum. There will be a number of speakers from different trade unions and campaigns in the city including the campaign to save the libraries!

Monday 23rd February – Save Our Libraries “read-in” outside the Council House at 4.45pm! Please bring yourselves, your families and library books for a read in on the council house steps!

Tuesday 24th February – Lobby of Coventry Council’s budget meeting, outside the Council House, 1-2pm. Coventry’s Labour councillors are betraying the people of this city by passing on cuts and doing the Tories dirty work – come along and tell them to fight back!

Wednesday 25th February – 24 hour FBU strike, look out for details of pickets and support our firefighters!

Wednesday 25th February – Dave Nellist will be speaking at the launch of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition election campaign in Coventry, 7.30pm at the Methodist Central Hall. We need an alternative to austerity – the Socialist Party is standing as part of TUSC across Coventry! TUSC is the only party that pledges to vote against cuts – come along to our election launch and find out more.

Tuesday 3rd March – Save Our Libraries meeting, 7pm at the Methodist Central Hall. The National Union of Teachers has organised this meeting with authors Alan Gibbons and Cathy Cassidy, as well as local library campaigners and a national NUT speaker. Don’t let Coventry Council close our libraries!

Saturday 14th March – Midlands Conference of the National Shop Stewards Network, 12-4pm, Unite Offices, 211 Broad Street, Birmingham, B15 1AY. This conference is for trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners throughout both East and West Midlands to come together and work out solutions to problems we face in our unions and our workplaces. There will be speakers from different trade unions as well as workshops to discuss the fight against austerity.

Dave Nellist outlines the socialist view on the HSBC tax evasion scandal

 

Dave Nellist outlines the socialist view on the HSBC tax evasion scandal

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

Over recent days we have received dozens of emails from residents of the Coventry North West constituency regarding the HSBC tax evasion scandal. The emails were sent to all candidates that have announced they are standing in the General Election via the 38 Degrees campaign website. The Socialist Party welcomes the opportunity to state our position on this, and if you agree with our response please fill in the form at the bottom of the article. Remember nothing will change unless we get organised!

The email that was sent to us is below, followed by the response from Dave Nellist

Dear Dave Nellist, Parvez Akhtar, and Mr Geoffrey Robinson MP,

I’m concerned about the recent revelations that HSBC has been helping the super-rich dodge their tax, and that the government has not been acting to stop this.

As a prospective parliamentary candidate in my area, can you let me know what you pledge to do to crack down on tax dodging and prevent scandals like HSBC from happening again?

Response from Dave

It is an absolute disgrace that these individuals and companies have behaved in this way, whilst at the same time ordinary people in Coventry and across the country face austerity cuts that will see levels of public spending taking back to the 1930s.

We only have to pose the question that if these millionaires and billionaires had paid their taxes, how many of the cuts that are due to take place in Coventry could be avoided? For example our libraries, lollipop ladies, community and children’s centres which are all under threat to name just a few key services.

The rich have got away for this for far too long, little surprise perhaps when successive governments have been so friendly to big business at the expense of the majority of us. As we have seen there are a number of Tory donors who have been caught up in this, and of course Labour have come out recently and said they are “furiously, passionately, aggressively pro-business”, so I do not think they can be trusted to act.

Linked to this is the ability to collect tax. In the last few years the government has axed between 38,000 and 40,000 jobs in Revenues and Customs as it carries out its swingeing cuts in the public sector. It has also closed tax offices meaning HMRC no longer has an network of local offices to provide advice and ensure tax compliance across the UK. How can any present or future government (Labour or Conservative) say they are serious about collecting tax and stopping the obscene tax avoidance if it sacks the very people who are able to collect it?

The Socialist Party, which is standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in this election, will support and demand measures that close all tax loopholes and tax havens.  We will fight for the rich to pay more tax and would support any measures such as a ‘Robin Hood / Tobin’ tax. We will also campaign for the cutbacks in Revenue and Customs to be reversed to enable tax dodgers to be pursued. We also think we do not have a progressive tax system in this country, which is something we would fight for.

However we think there are also wider issues here. 

I suspect the only thing that makes HSBC different, is that they got caught! The whole banking system is rotten, based on gambling and speculation. If I put £5 on a horse in the 3.30, and it came in last, you would not be expected to refund my gambling. But that’s what the banks have got away with. Unprecedented gambling and speculation which spectacularly crashed in 2008, and triggered the recession that so many ordinary people are still suffering from. The whole banking system needs reorganising and rationally planning. But you can’t plan what you don’t control, and you don’t control what you don’t own. Large amounts of Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland are in public ownership, but not under democratic control. Nationalisation should be extended to the whole banking system and tight regulation then enforced in the interests of the millions not the millionaires.

Britain is not a poor country as this scandal illustrates. The problem is we have an economic system, backed up by the main establishment parties, which means vast wealth is concentrated at the very top. The key point is that the minority at the top own and control this wealth, whilst most of us struggle to get by. We think we need a radical change, whereby ownership and control of the main resources in society are put in the hands of ordinary people, and human need (such as the NHS, decent housing and free education) are put before private greed.

Thank you for contacting us and taking the time to read this response. I would encourage you to come to our election launch on Wednesday 25th February, 7.30pm at the Methodist Hall, bottom of Hertford Street where I and others will outline the socialist challenge in this election.

If you want to read more about our campaigns and policies please visit the websites at the bottom of this email, and if you would like to talk about the issues I have raised please call our campaign hotline on 07530 429441 or feel free to respond to this email.

Kind regards

Dave Nellist

www.coventrysocialists.com

www.tusc.org.uk

www.socialistparty.org.uk