Supporters of Leeds Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition lobbied Leeds City Council yesterday calling for affordable housing for all. A deputation, led by Socialist Party member & Headingley TUSC candidate Iain Dalton addressed the council.
Leeds Socialist Party member
Over the last few months, TUSC supporters have been campaigning door-to-door in parts of Leeds including Armley & Kirkstall calling for as mass council house building programme and the establishment of a not-for-profit, council-run, letting agency.
With over 20,000 on the council house waiting list in Leeds, an a PFI-funded council scheme only providing 388 new homes (and just over 1,000 refurbished homes), the councils plans fall far short of what is required.
The result of this is increasing numbers of tenants left in the hands of big landlords and letting agents, many charging exorbitant rents and/or ‘admin’ fees often for poor quality housing. In the areas near the universities the last few decades has seen an explosion in buy-to-let houses of multiple occupancy, cramming 4 or more students into what had previously been 2-bed properties, pushing families out of the area. This situation has been worsened by the effects of the Tory bedroom tax implemented by Leeds’ Labour council like many others around the country.
Our campaign has helped unite students and local residents (Horsforth TUSC candidate Gary Kaye and student KT Johnston made up the rest of the delegation), and has received the warmest response we’ve ever known on the doorstep. We’ve had hundreds of signatures and have also started an online petition – https://www.change.org/p/leeds-city-council-establish-a-council-run-letting-agency-build-council-houses. BBC also came down to interview us about the deputation.
The council refered the issues raised by the deputation to officers in conjunction with the executive member responsible for Housing, Cllr. Peter Gruen. We now plan on continuing to collect signatures and delivering those to the councillor in the not too distant future.