- Created: Wednesday, 03 December 2014 21:16
- Written by Newcastle Branch
On 27 November 2014 Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! (FRFI) supporters in Newcastle joined with local residents alongside Anarchist Federation, SolFed, Socialist Party and other activists in opposing an attempt by Newcastle’s Labour council to evict a local man with disabilities from his home for bedroom tax arrears.
By January of this year Newcastle City Council had granted 139 possession orders to the city's principal ALMO, Your Homes Newcastle (YHN). YHN had predicted they would lose £1m in bedroom tax arrears by the end of 2014, this figure is set to increase. A possession order is tantamount to an eviction notice. The council is presently making its intent clear: they will show no restraint, they will consider nothing of tenants' personal circumstances. This was demonstrated by the council’s recent attempt to evict a single, disabled man from his home at Todd's Nook tower in Arthur's Hill, West Newcastle.
The tenant in question wishes to remain anonymous. He suffers from anxiety and depression, alongside severe arthritis which is exacerbated by an increase in anxiety. Often he is unable to function due to a combination of his medication - strong painkillers and sedatives - and depression. Despite this, the tenant has come out consistently to protest alongside anti-bedroom tax activists and FRFI supporters. His eviction was arranged as he has been unable to keep up with his bedroom tax payments and is in rent arrears.
Bailiffs were scheduled to come to his property at 11:45am whilst he was in court for these debts. Anti-eviction protesters, including FRFI supporters, arrived from 10am. The tenant had submitted an N244 form, a form that would allow a further court hearing about his eviction. This hearing was also scheduled for 10am.
From the beginning of the day, the police and YHN were on edge. Both YHN staff and the police approached protesters to tell them that the eviction was cancelled within 20 minutes of their arrival. Protesters agreed to continue with the action until the tenant had confirmed the results of his hearing, during which time the anti-eviction presence continued to increase in size with both activists from across the city and tenants from Todd's Nook joining to oppose the bailiffs. At the protest's peak, 30 people were stood in solidarity at the entrance to the tower block.
At around 11:30am, the tenant was told that the court had decided to adjourn the eviction for 42 days. They will be looking into the decision Newcastle Labour council made to withhold his Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs), which should have been granted due to his disabilities. Protestors remained outside of Todd’s Nook until he returned home. No bailiffs showed their faces. The lesson here is that a combination of public political pressure and legal work can prevent an eviction. However small this victory might be, we must now take it forward.
Smash the Bedroom Tax!
Cancel all arrears!
James Bell & Chloë KM
Local media coverage of the protest:
For the Chronicle article click here.
For reports of other recent events in the North East click here.