Of Silly Political Games in Leicester, a Travelodge, and Bailiffs

Nationally the Tories are in crisis and a Corbyn-led Labour government could easily sweep to power within months. But across the country, officials elected wearing Labour’s rosette continue to play their own silly political games by choosing to carry through Tory cuts.

Rather than fight to resist ongoing attacks upon the working-class, in Leicester the latest harebrained plans of our Labour City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, is to spend £10 million to help set-up a Travelodge over Haymarket Shopping centre.

Although it was last September when Sir Peter first reported his excitement about this new development to the local media, it was only last month that he announced his planned £10 million investment in this silly scheme. He said this investment would bring the Council “a better return on our money than could be obtained from the banks”; and he explicitly saw this as a way of bringing more money into our city to help combat Tory funding cut which are continually “reduc[ing] our annual income” (June 6, Leicester Mercury).

But I am glad to say that not all of Leicester’s 52 Labour councillors believe that this would be best way to spend £10 million. Thus five councillors (Patrick Kitterick, Ross Willmott, Sue Waddington, Lucy Chaplin and Bill Shelton) have chosen to “call-in” the planned decision for further much-warranted democratic debate to discuss whether the money would be better spent on providing publicly-owned Council homes instead of a private-sector hotel.

There should be no doubting that the five Labour councillors in question did the correct thing and followed all due democratic processes in calling-in Sir Peter’s Travelodge decision for democratic scrutiny. But like the bully that he is, Sir Peter Soulsby responded by attempting to impugn the professional integrity of the five concerned councillors (Mercury, July 2). This is just the latest silly political game that has been played by our City Mayor, who, not so long ago, was busy calling for the resignation of Jeremy Corbyn as the leader of the Labour Party.

As the ongoing saga of the Travelodge scandal therefore continues, it seems that once again the political priorities of the majority of our cities Labour councillors are in all the wrong places. Increasing numbers of Leicester’s residents are being forced into poverty by our Tory government, and the Council is still doing none of the obvious things that are necessary to unite with the people of Leicester in resisting such state-driven violence.

For example, our Council might take a lead from the Labour-led Hammersmith and Fulham Council in London which no longer uses bailiffs against people who struggle with paying their Council tax (“Labour borough stops “medieval practice” of using bailiffs to chase council tax arrears in UK first,” Daily Mirror, November 23, 2017). If our Labour-led Council were genuinely concerned about promoting working-class interests before those of big business then they would have made investigating such a progressive initiative one of their first political priorities.

STop the knock Leicester

Of course, the needless use of bailiffs is no joking matter, and according to the latest data from the Money Advice Trust, their use by our Labour Council in Leicester has increased by a unforgivable 43% between 2014/15 and 2016/17. This means that in 2016/17 alone, Leicester City Council, under Sir Peters misleadership, made 13,002 referrals to bailiff companies in an effort to punish their residents for not being able to afford to pay their Council tax!

It is for such reasons and many others that Leicester must continue to demand that more of its city councillors openly rebel against Sir Peter Soulsby’s spineless leadership, and demand that they adopt a fighting strategy that is worthy of socialist principles that will always place the needs of the people of Leicester before silly games and capitalist political expediency.

For more details about how Leicester City Council might bring an end to the use of Bailiffs, read the following article from the Bristol Cable (July 2, 2018) https://thebristolcable.org/2018/07/opinion-our-mayor-has-an-open-goal-opportunity-to-help-thousands-will-he-take-it-bailiffs/

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