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Thousands rally to mark bedroom tax anniversary


Thousands of people across Britain rallied on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the hated bedroom tax.

They took to the streets in towns and cities including London, Cardiff, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Hull in protest against one of the coalition government’s most vicious attacks on 600,000 of Britain’s most vulnerable people.

General union Unite sponsored the demonstrations in Leeds, London and Cardiff.

In London, angry protesters heckled outside Britain’s most expensive property at One Hyde Park, central London, where flats sell for as much as £68 million each and many of which remain empty.

Hundreds took part in a march in Leeds followed by a rally outside the city’s art gallery, where victims of the tax told their stories.

Among the protesters was Tracey-Ann Holland from Barnsley. Disabled from birth, she suffered severe epilepsy, haemoplegia and had a stroke when she was three, leaving her with mobility problems and a speech impediment.

Using a mobility frame, she travels the country speaking out against the bedroom tax at rallies and meetings.

She has a 6’5” by 6’8” “spare” room at her council home.

“Barnsley Council decided it was big enough for a single mattress so that made it a spare room,” she said.

“I’m behind with my rent and I’ve now received a possession order.”

More than 100 people took to the streets of Hull in protest against the tax.

“Today’s events in Hull and in other UK cities give us hope,” said Hull People’s Assembly Chair Sarah Hemingway.

“Despite all that has been thrown at working people, we are still standing and we will never give in until this despicable government is driven from power.”

But she also warned: “Labour must realise we will not tolerate more of the same.”

Speaking in the Welsh capital, Cardiff council tenant Maria Evans told the anti-bedroom tax rally: “Tenants’ rights are human rights.”

Ms Evans said she was part of a strong community on her Ely estate, supporting grown-up children and grandchildren.

“Our family rights are not respected when they expect us to move every time our circumstances change,” she declared.

Cardiff Trades Union Council secretary Ramon Corria highlighted the luxurious accommodation of Tory ministers and members of the royal family, comparing this with the shortage of council housing.

“The government should kick-start a massive housebuilding programme of affordable council housing of the appropriate size for our people,” he said.

“Social housing tenants didn’t cause the economic crisis but are paying for it.”


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