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From: The Socialist issue 671, 18 May 2011: Strike back at pensions robbery!

Search site for keywords: London - Fire - Police - FBU - Rail - Repossessions - Cuts - Firefighters - Jean Charles de Menezes

News in brief

Losing your home

More evidence that the government's austerity measures are pushing the economy back into recession comes from the latest house repossession figures. These show a 15% leap in repossessions in the first quarter of 2011 - some 9,100 properties.

The Council for Mortgage Lenders expects repossessions for the whole of 2011 to be around 40,000 - up on the 36,300 recorded in 2010.

The Ministry of Justice also produced figures last week that showed repossession claims in courts in England and Wales rose for the third consecutive quarter in January-March this year. 20,034 claims were made - 8% higher than in the same period in 2010.

Needless to say it is the squeeze on incomes through rising unemployment as well as pay cuts at the same time as hikes in energy, food and fuel bills that have pushed people into indebtedness.

Another big factor causing mortgage arrears is the government decision to halve the payment rate for support for mortgage interest (SMI) last October. SMI is a benefit paid to people on income support, jobseeker's allowance or pension credit and with mortgages of less than 200,000.

Police dummies

London Met police marksmen are to be issued with hollow point or 'dum dum' bullets. The ammunition, which typically instantly kills the victim, has been outlawed in wars under the 1899 Hague Declaration.

According to the London Evening Standard: "Police experts say there is less risk of injuries to innocent parties and bystanders" using these bullets. The tragic irony of this sentence seems to be lost on the Standard as this type of ammunition was used to assassinate innocent party Jean Charles de Menezes in Stockwell underground station in a botched anti-terrorist operation by Met police in 2005. After this fatal shooting the dum dum ammunition was withdrawn. But "after 12 weeks testing" (on who?) the police are reintroducing it.

Hire and fire

Brian Coleman, Tory councillor and London fire boss, claimed an outrageous 3,500 in expenses for taxi and car journeys on top of his 120,000 earnings.

'Grab-a-cab Coleman' is also notorious for his political bile aimed at the capital's firefighters. Last year he threatened Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members with mass sackings unless they agreed to unacceptable changes in working practices, while at the same time hypocritically accusing the FBU of 'thuggish' behaviour.

Gold service

What does a private rail transport company do faced with an increased demand for its services during the 2012 London Olympics? You've guessed right, it cuts its services!

Southeastern intends to slash the number of trains during week days between 28 July and 12 August 2012 in south east London, including closing the Woolwich Dockyard station.

It seems that Southeastern, with its high fares and overcrowded trains, is now trying to establish a new record for the worst rail service ever.

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