“EVICTING the poor”, the words of Councillor David Baird as the local authority vetoed an SNP motion appealing for the council to hold restraint on evictions due to the under-occupancy charge.
Today, Cllr Jim McCabe, the leader of North Lanarkshire Council has come out swinging, in an attempt to defend the local authority's decision to enforce the forthcoming 'bedroom tax' as well as retaining the power to evict council tenants.
Yesterday (Thursday, 28th March, 2013) saw a heated debate as the full council met, in Motherwell, with the main point of discussion being the ‘bedroom tax’.
At the meeting, the Labour-led council overruled an SNP group motion to follow the lead of Scotland's SNP majority local authorities who have promised not to evict people if they get into rent arrears, as a result of the ‘bedroom tax’, which comes into force on Monday.
In the debating chamber of the council’s Civic Centre headquarters, SNP Abronhill, Kildrum and the Village Councillor, Cllr Tom Johnston attempted to pass an amendment to a Housing and Social Work Services committee meeting minute.
Cllr Johnston’s amendment said: "This council supports the actions by SNP-led councils to ensure that no evictions take place from Council properties as a result of any financial pressures places on tenants by the UK Welfare Reform proposals for a 'bedroom tax'."
The actions of the SNP Councillor proved unfruitful, however, as the council's Labour majority overruled the SNP amendment 42 to 23, in a result which caused Councillor David Baird to scream: "Shame on you - evicting the poor."
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Today, though, Cllr McCabe has attempted to defend the council’s decision, on the eve of mass anti-bedroom tax protests in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Talking to the media, Councillor Jim McCabe has said that the issue is “more complex” than simply promising that no evictions will take place.
He said: "It comes as no surprise to me that the SNP group opted to go for the cheap soundbite and easy politics.
"But this council will make policy decisions on this abhorrent Tory legislation based on analysis and in a considered way.
"It's easy to say we'll have no evictions but the truth is that the picture is much more complex. We'll analyse the impact of all the welfare reforms, not just the bedroom tax, and deal with them in a sensible, sensitive way.
"This council does not go in for routine evictions and they are a last resort. This is not just for moral reasons but to evict for a debt of a few hundred pounds when the costs of rehousing families ruin into thousands is the economics of the madhouse.
"We have demonstrated already that we will work closely with our tenants to help them through this and that work will continue. And I guarantee that this council will do everything possible to protect the most vulnerable in our communities in the face of this right-wing war on the poor."
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