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Pensioners occupy BBC Leeds reception in protest against removal of free TV licenses for over 75s – photo Iain Dalton

“BBC, Shame on You” was the chant as around 50 pensioners from across Yorkshire, including as far away as Scarborough, occupied the reception area of the Leeds BBC offices.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Their plan had been to hold a peaceful rally with speakers but after bem kept waiting half an hour for someone to accept a letter from the Yorkshire and Humber Pensioners Convention, then told no-one was actually going to do that, then they decided to go in and make sure staff knew they were thre and what they were campaigning on.

Speakers were careful to highlight that in their opinion, the proposal to scrap free TV licenses for over 75s was due to the government removing funding to the BBC for this a few years ago.

The Yorkshire & Humber National Pensioners convention protest over the removal of free TV licenses from over 75s brought together local campaign groups and trade unions – photo Iain Dalton

There was a strong presence of retired trade union members especially from Unite. Gerry Lavery, Leeds Unite Community Secretary commented “Given the increased loneliness in society its crucial this remains a universal benefit for over 75s, and the government must take responsibility for funding it.”

Dave, a Unite Community member from Leeds told us “We’re here primarlily because we don’t want to see free TV licenses taken away from over 75s, but this could be followed by the abolition of other things. In the past there’s been talk of removing the concessionary travel pass or the winter fuel allowance.”

Socialist Party members in Yorkshire have been campaigning on this issue, linking the need to defend free TV licenses for over 75s with challenging the increasing commercialisation and outsourcing of the BBC and fighting for a public owned, fully funded and democratically controlled BBC.