Camden Council steps up attacks on the working class

The leadership of Camden Council in north London is in the forefront of reforming local councils along lines set down by Labour central government. It began by restructuring the council into a ‘cabinet-style’ affair, after a consultation in which local residents were asked which of three similar options they preferred. The majority favoured retaining the previous system. This was ignored and Tony Blair made council leader Jane Roberts a Dame. Since then Camden Council has been first in the queue to implement every piece of repression or privatisation that the government brings in.

In FRFI 176 we reported on the Labour government’s sell-off of council housing to the private sector, either to Housing Associations (‘stock transfer’), Private Finance Initiative consortia or through the so-called Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) option.

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Fight Labour plans to cut ESOL funding

Labour plans to axe free English language lessons for asylum seekers aged over 19 from August 2007, despite its demands that immigrants pass an English Language Test to be allowed to stay. Ironically, only five years ago the government declared its commitment to free English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), on the basis that the ability to speak English was essential for full integration into British society.

2.1 million people aged 16-64 currently receive ESOL teaching. Many of them will be excluded after August 2007. The proposal has sparked condemnation and protest across the country. Recent reports from Amnesty International and Refugee Action highlight the plight of destitute asylum seekers, whose applications have been refused and who are forced to sleep rough in parks, public toilets and phone-boxes. Many are without vital medicines even after suffering torture. The withdrawal of English teaching will make their situation even more desperate.
The impact on non-English speaking women will be particularly severe, rendering it almost impossible for them to seek employment or education and increasing their dependence on their partners.

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