A disabled man claims he is facing eviction from his council flat over falling behind on rent payments.
The man, who wanted to remain anonymous, has blamed the Bedroom Tax for getting into financial difficulty and could be made to move in just over a month.
That’s if Your Homes Newcastle, an organisation which manages council homes across the city, decides to evict him from his flat in Westgate Road.
The potential eviction follows the loss of the tenant’s housing benefit.
Though it was reinstated, a shortfall caused by the bedroom tax was not paid, meaning his rent arrears have continued to rise.
The man appealed his eviction yesterday at Newcastle Crown Court in a case which will be heard again in 42 days. It will allow him to reapply for benefits that will enable him to pay his rent and reduce the level of arrears, according to the housing provider.
Following the hearing, he was joined at Todd’s Nook Tower on Westgate Road by fellow tenants and activists in protest of the proposals.
The man, who suffers from anxiety which worsens his arthritis, said his life has become dramatically worse since the situation began.
“This situation has made everything worse for me. The anxiety causes so much pain in my body and makes my arthritis even worse. It’s a massive downward health spiral.”
He added that the situation had left him unhappy in his own home, where he has lived for almost a decade.
“I now hate being in the flat, I want out of it. The memories created by the way the council have treated me sicken me. There’s no way I can be happy here,” he said.
He said that the extended 42-day window before the decision is made on the eviction will give him more time to involve disability activists in his case in a bid to save himself from eviction.
Campaigner James Bell, 23, from Whitley Bay, attended the demonstration has offered support and advice to other tenants being hit by the tax.
Mr Bell said: “He’s come out and given support to people who are going through this. He’s been consistent to opposition to this.”
Tradesman Richard Hartfield, 34, from the West End of Newcastle added:
“We’re putting the unity back in community. He’s helped others in need and we’re to return that.
“I’ve been in that situation a few times, it’s about having other people there that you can go to for advice. We’re here to defend the man and his rights.”
Your Homes Newcastle said eviction was only an option in the most extreme circumstances and that the situation has arisen after attempts to engage with the man failed.
Director of tenancy services Neil Scott said:
“Since the introduction of the bedroom tax in April 2013 we have made every effort to assist any tenant who has been affected and offer support to enable them to meet their rent payments.
“Eviction action has been an absolute last resort where we have exhausted all other avenues or where tenants have refused support from us.”
A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said:
“The council social housing provider Your Homes Newcastle has an excellent track record in supporting tenants who find themselves facing financial difficulties. We would much prefer to work with those at risk to help them avoid losing their homes. Clearly this does depend on the tenants being willing to cooperate in the process.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 28 Nov 2014
The English Defence League is to march through Newcastle’s West End, despite objections from police.
Northumbria Police’s Chief Constable Sue Sim fears tomorrow’s demonstration will cause distress to residents.
> Well, yes… that’s their whole intention, isn’t it ? That’s why they’re not marching through Gosforth or Jesmond.
However, the far-right group has refused to compromise with the force and change its route so tomorrow’s march will go ahead.
Chief Cons Sim said: “Northumbria Police has been speaking to organisers from the English Defence League for a number of weeks following their announcement that they want to hold a march in Newcastle on Saturday, May 17.
“The EDL expressed an intention to march in the West End of the city through a highly populated, residential area. We have made our position clear that we do not support this as the impact on the local community is too great. It poses a risk to public safety, will cause people fear in their own homes and create significant disruption as people try to go about their daily lives.
“Northumbria Police has always tried to facilitate peaceful protest and has worked with the EDL in the past to agree suitable routes for them to march and protest. We also regularly work with other groups with a range of opposing views to agree routes for marches and protest locations.
“Regrettably, this time EDL organisers have not been prepared to compromise on an alternative route, although we would remind them we are still prepared to discuss alternatives.
“Those planning to attend should be aware there has been no agreement with police with regards to meeting points or route locations.”
Protest group Newcastle Unites has also spoken to police about marching through the West End tomorrow.
And after discussions the route of this demonstration was altered.
Mrs Sim has vowed that officers will be out on the streets to ensure all protests pass peacefully and that residents’ safety will be a priority.
She added: “We have an excellent history of harmonious relations between all our communities and the public should rest assured that their safety remains our priority. We will not allow anything to disrupt their way of life or any marches to take place in residential areas.
“Our neighbourhood officers, known to local communities, together with other officers will be out and about in the run up to and throughout Saturday to reassure local people and answer any questions they may have.
“We have also been working with representatives of the local community and partners in the run up to the weekend.
“We do expect Saturday to be extremely busy in Newcastle but it will be ‘business as usual’. There are a number of events going on in the city centre and surrounding areas but there is no need for anyone to change their plans or avoid the city.”
Northumbria Police’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird is now appealing to the EDL to get in touch.
She said: “The Chief Constable has made an operational decision that no march or demonstration should be allowed in the west end of Newcastle on March 17, and, although I do not make operational decisions, as the Police and Crime Commissioner I agree and support her wholeheartedly.
“Few people would wish to have their communities disrupted in that way, including probably those who want to protest.
“In previous demonstrations, protests and marches by the English Defence League (EDL), they have accepted the request to discuss the route and the details with Northumbria Police, who have a good history of protecting the right to protest whilst ensuring that people who are not involved are not seriously inconvenienced.
“It is disappointing that the EDL have refused to give details of their plans to the police.
“I would appeal to them to make contact now and agree reasonable arrangements as usual.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 16 May 2014