Stoke Socialist Party member, Jamie Chatfield reports on our campaign to stop our city council’s attempt to persecute the homeless.
“The Socialist Party’s campaign against Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s attack on rough sleepers continued to gain support last Friday. Hundreds of people signed our petition calling on the council to withdraw its draconian threat of £1000 on-the-spot fines for rough sleepers and the immediate seizure of their tents.
People recognise that these polices are nothing more than a cruel and cynical attempt to move the homeless out of Hanley’s city centre during the busy period of Christmas shopping while the Council bids to win 2021 City of Culture.
However, simply ending these backwards attacks is not enough, the homelessness in the fifth wealthiest country on earth could and should be ended.
Unemployment, low pay, zero-hour contracts, spiraling rents and insecure tenancies, a continued assault on public services (including youth centers, the NHS and mental health provision), benefit cuts, a lack of council housing, and the scandalous number of long-term empty properties in Britain have all played a role in the increase of homelessness over the last decade.
There are 10,000 homes that sit long-term unoccupied in the West Midlands alone, a figure surpassed by 200,000 nationally. Many of these properties are owned by the super-rich who hold them as assets, but have no intention of ever filling them. Rough sleeping could be put to an almost immediate end if these properties were requisitioned, even as a temporary measure during a program of council house building. When we put forward this demand on our campaign stalls it is met with large amounts of support, with one man even remarking that it was simply ‘common sense’!“
Jamie Chatfield – Stoke Socialist Party
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