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Judith Blake & Northern Labour leaders call summit on government investment

Labour Leader of Leeds City Council, Judith Blake, has joined other Labour Council Leaders and Mayors of Northern Cities in reacting strongly to recent government statements about transport infrastructure investment – i.e. the Tories’ decision to cancel funding for rail electrification while issuing backing for London’s Crossrail 2 - and their implications for the North. … Continue reading Judith Blake & Northern Labour leaders call summit on government investment

Leeds Council Leader Judith Blake – how cities can make UK fairer & stronger

Leeds is a member of the Core Cities group. Today they have launched a Green paper. Cities are capable, ready and willing to help the UK become a fairer and stronger place. The Green paper sets out how – and calls on government to help and support their efforts. You can read more about it … Continue reading Leeds Council Leader Judith Blake – how cities can make UK fairer & stronger

‘A strong voice in this House and a powerful advocate for my constituency’ – Alex Sobel’s Maiden Speech

On Wednesday 12 July our new MP, Alex Sobel, made his maiden speech – in the debate concerning the Grenfell Tower tragedy. He celebrated the diverse and great area which is Leeds North West Constituency. He promised to ‘speak truth to power and be an advocate for this one issue [climate change], which will define … Continue reading ‘A strong voice in this House and a powerful advocate for my constituency’ – Alex Sobel’s Maiden Speech

Sun shone on Kirkstall Festival – and on Leeds NW Labour stall

It was typical Kirkstall Festival weather yesterday, warm & sunny, & over 20,000 people took advantage of it, and had a great time. The Leeds NW Labour Stall was buzzing – and we made a sizeable profit, a start for our next General Election Fund. Lots of people visited the stall, chatted & bought. Many … Continue reading Sun shone on Kirkstall Festival – and on Leeds NW Labour stall

Visit Leeds NW Labour stall: Kirkstall Festival Sat July 8th

July 8, Kirkstall Abbey, from 11 a.m. – the Kirkstall festival will take place ‘the largest village fete in the country.’ We’ve got a stall there – selling clothes, toys, books, DVDs, plants, jams and pickles and bric-a-brac. This year’s star item is a researcher’s library - high quality books on Social & Political History, … Continue reading Visit Leeds NW Labour stall: Kirkstall Festival Sat July 8th

Alex Sobel MP backs musicians in Leeds NW to get the best possible deal from Brexit

Did you know that the creative industries are worth over £87bn in their contribution to the economy - more than oil and gas, life sciences and aerospace combined? They are the fastest-growing sector of the economy, employing 1 in 11 people. The UK has the largest cultural economy in the world relative to Gross Domestic … Continue reading Alex Sobel MP backs musicians in Leeds NW to get the best possible deal from Brexit

Why Leeds is not Kensington – Headingley’s Neil Walshaw on Council response to tragedy

The news has been dominated over these last weeks by the Grenfell Tower tragedy – and rightly so. The dreadful fire itself and its causes, the care and treatment of survivors, the responses of government and of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council – all these raise questions which are of urgent and wider public concern. … Continue reading Why Leeds is not Kensington – Headingley’s Neil Walshaw on Council response to tragedy

Wanted – Items and Helpers for Kirkstall Festival Stall Saturday July 8th

Every year the Labour party runs a stall at the Kirkstall Festival, held at Kirkstall Abbey - ‘the largest village fete in the country’. This year's festival is on July 8. We urgently need items for sale and helpers on the day to transport stuff there – and to staff the stall. Have you any … Continue reading Wanted – Items and Helpers for Kirkstall Festival Stall Saturday July 8th

Tenants and the homeless must not be made to pay for the tower block fire safety crisis

This blog, from Labour Housing Group, which is affiliated to the Labour Party, is an important read.
Its last paragraphs make clear the potential knock on effect on housing need of government response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
“The numbers matter. Unless extra social housing is provided in total then the people who will actually pay for this crisis will be those homeless families or people on the housing waiting list who will not be rehoused as a consequence. One way round this would be government to fund the purchase of an equivalent number of homes on the open market – as happened in the early 1990s to mitigate the housing market slump.

Theresa May was as slippery as can be when challenged about how the works to blocks like Grenfell will be paid for. It could be hundreds of millions. This should be a central government commitment, a new fund provided by the whole country to avoid another tragedy. May wouldn’t commit, just saying it will be done. What is most likely is that government will allow councils to borrow more to pay for the works, with the cost falling to the housing revenue account. And there’s the rub: unless there is specific subsidy or grant, extra borrowing on the HRA will be funded in the long term by tenants through their rents. Tenants will pay for a fire safety crisis that is not of their making.

It is absolutely right that the victims of the fire should have top priority and should be rehoused as quickly as possible. No-one will disagree that similar panels should be stripped from other blocks. No-one will object to an extensive programme of fire safety improvements, including for example sprinklers, in all towers currently without them. But, whoever is found to be responsible, it is not right that the actual burden of putting things right should fall on existing tenants and homeless people waiting for a home. Central government should foot the bill, sharing the load. That’s why we all pay taxes.”

Red Brick

I have found it hard to comment on the Grenfell Tower disaster. Words cannot convey the horror of it, and everything I tried to write felt hopelessly inadequate. Others succeeded where I failed, and I would recommend thoughtful pieces penned by Chris Creegan, Municipal Dreams, and Giles Peaker amongst others.

I was so angry at the ineptitude of the council’s and the government’s response and so in awe of the magnificent response of the emergency services and the local community. They are in total contrast to each other.

grenfell

pic: Metropolitan Police

I was also stunned that within hours some people started to use the fire to attack social housing. One tweeter said: ‘The nature + quality of social housing is probably the single biggest post-war British policy failure’ and there were plenty of a similar ilk. Others reverted to well-worn dystopian myths and Clockwork Orange imagery about council…

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McDonnell’s response to Hammond: Only Labour can deliver Brexit for the many

This morning Philip Hammond made his - delayed - Mansion House speech. Its messages were clear - austerity will continue, the Chancellor is not in agreement with the PM over Brexit. John McDonnell has responded - below. 'The Tories have learnt nothing. . . Only a Labour Government will secure a Brexit for the many … Continue reading McDonnell’s response to Hammond: Only Labour can deliver Brexit for the many