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Community union Acorn demands protection for tenants in city protests across Britain

CAMPAIGNERS staged protests today in 19 towns and cities against government plans to end legislation protecting tenants and renters from eviction and rent debt during the coronavirus crisis.

Activists from the Acorn Community Union staged actions including banner-drops and socially distanced rallies, winning support from the public.

The protests began in Sheffield at about 11am and more took place throughout the day in centres including Bristol, Brighton, Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Oxford, Cambridge, Hastings, Coventry and Lancaster.

Acorn head organiser Nick Ballard said: “It has been going really well. It is what we were hoping for — the weather cleared!

“All across the country, from Cardiff to Newcastle and everywhere in between, people in the streets have been talking to us and saying they want to support us, which is great.

“It is what we hoped we were going to get: people saying that they are against the evictions starting again.”

In March the government was warned by local authorities that the coronavirus pandemic lockdown, which left millions unable to work and forced to live on reduced pay or stingy benefits, meant that 500,000 households could be exposed to eviction and homelessness unless action was taken.

On March 23 the government introduced emergency legislation to protect social tenants, private renters and landlords from the worst financial effects of the virus lockdown.

But with restrictions now being relaxed, and with the government issuing its “back to work” call to the population, it has announced that the protections will end in a month’s time, and from June 25 landlords will be able to evict tenants without giving a reason under the much criticised legislation known as Section 21.

Today’s protests called on the protection from eviction to be extended for another six months.

Acorn (the Association of Community Organisations for Reform Now) is campaigning under the slogan “Housing is health.” It is active in communities organising tenants, including students, to fight back against exploitative landlords and has taken up other community issues.

During the coronavirus crisis some 5,000 volunteers for the community union have distributed food and prescriptions to isolated people.

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