The meeting Chaired by Unison’s Doreen brown was very informative and indeed the overall effect of the meeting was thought provoking for the audience.
Maxie Hayles Chair of Barac Birmingham outlined the issues faced by the people and he was followed by Ann Gallagher one of the leaders of the Campaign to save Spring Hill Library, who outlined the way in which they went about the campaign and suggested best practice in conducting such as campaign. The main thing’ being don’t lose focus your demand, which in this case challenge the closing of the Library and ensure it remain open with no strings attached.
Alaister from Handsworth Against the Cuts spoke about the issues faced with the proposed closure of Community facilities and announced his candidacy in Lozells and Handsworth East.
Black Dee famous of Benefit Street spoke with passion concerning the Bedroom Tax and the unfairness as people do find themselves in larger properties and in her case pointed out that many people like her were allocated their homes with their current living circumstances and she urged many not to pay it and also pointed out that “Discretionary payments” were available to the applied for from the Council.
One member of the audience pointed out that he lives in a one bedroom flat and is currently battling the fact that he is being charged the Bedroom tax for living in a two bedroom and despite his representations, they will; not accept that he is in a one bedroom flat. He has yet again approached his landlord Midland Heart to sort it out; however, it appears in his view that they are only interested in threatening him with Court proceedings as supposed to sorting out their alleged error.
Sunjay Kohli from Birmingham Empowerment Youth Forum spoke about the fact that a student now will leave University as in his case with a debt in the region of £45000, before they start work; with no guarantee that they can even use their degree in the work the may eventually find.
Clearly, the point I got across is a simple one “we must be the change that we want to see”.
If there is no connection with local Politicians, then replace them, voting is important, being registered is even more important. We must use the system to fight the system.
Use the system to “jam the system”, in terms of the bedroom tax and court proceedings and applying for discretionary payments.
We are here to help and we must empower others to stand up and challenge the decisions being made on their behalf, especially when they are not even being consulted, which seems to be a regular and common trend with the residents of Ladywood.
The meeting ending on an up beat note an importantly it solidified the need for change and the fact that no local representatives attended clearly demonstrated the need to have Politicians that put “People First Not Party”