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From: The Socialist issue 955, 5 July 2017: Public sector wages - pay up!

Search site for keywords: Newcastle - Tenants - Labour - Council - Housing - Homes - Grenfell Tower - Outsourcing

Newcastle tenants demand answers from Labour council

Rock Terrace tower blocks in Newcastle, photo by Stephen Richards/CC

Rock Terrace tower blocks in Newcastle, photo by Stephen Richards/CC   (Click to enlarge)

William Jarrett, Newcastle Socialist Party

On 27 June I attended a meeting organised by concerned tenants of Your Homes Newcastle (YHN), an arms-length management organisation (Almo) of Newcastle City Council, at Cruddas Park tower in the city's west end.

Tenants revealed a shocking array of safety violations catalogued throughout Newcastle's tower blocks in the fortnight since the Grenfell Tower disaster, explicitly referring to them as being potentially criminally negligent.

Included among them were failures to install smoke detectors, faulty windows, lack of fire extinguishers, and doors which sealed a tenant inside of their home during a fire alarm.

A member of Newcastle council Labour group, Dipu Ahad, questioned whether the meeting was organised by actual tenants. But a BBC Look North film crew present didn't question the meeting's authenticity, and were keen to interview residents.

Councillor Ahad said that if the campaign was going to be "hijacked"(!), then "we" - presumably Newcastle's Labour group - "can't help".

This drew the ire of Diane, a campaign organiser and YHN tenant. The possibility of rent strikes was also discussed.

The Socialist Party rejects all outsourcing of council housing, whether through Almos or private companies. Services must be returned in-house, and fully funded, for proper oversight and regulation.

I offered our solidarity and support to the campaign, and committed to undertake activity with them to hold YHN and Newcastle City Council to account to ensure safe housing for all.

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