Bob Ward is a Leeds resident and longtime friend and supporter of the #SaveOurHomesLS26 campaign. On Wednesday, Bob gave a passionate deputation to Leeds City Council members, calling on them to act with sense and compassion, to stop the ongoing evictions, and to purchase the houses to add to Leeds’ woefully inadequate housing stock. “It is social injustice writ large in the way in which ordinary good people can have their lives completely overturned by the pursuit of financial gain”, he said. During the deputation, Bob was accompanied by Robert Walker, Hazell Field, and Linda Elsworth – neighbours who are desperately clinging on to their homes and their community.
The Yorkshire Evening Post covered the deputation in an online article today, and below we have summarised some key highlights.
Bob stated that:
- Pemberstone claim the houses are dangerously deteriorating, yet they have not published studies to sufficiently evidence this apparently “rapid” deterioration over time. Independent inspections in June 2021 organised by the campaign have failed to locate some of the defects previously reported by Pemberstone – raising questions about their existence in the first place. ‘Was this the “Miracle of Oulton”? Cracked posts that healed themselves?’ Bob asked. There are clear inconsistencies here.
- Residents are now being evicted and the Council is assisting some to secure temporary accommodation in order to support the vacation of the entire estate. Promises have been made to residents by the Council that, when the new estate is built, many evicted residents will have the chance to move back into some of the “affordable” properties on a local lettings policy. Even if this were true, Bob pointed out, it will take a minimum of three years to get to that point: “Not a prospect to be relished by residents in their seventies, thrown into a scarce, scattered, expensive and discriminatory housing market“.
- Bob also pointed out that, with this mass eviction going ahead, it is worsening the already desperate local social housing situation. If the council purchased the estate, then everybody wins as “70 houses would be added to the council’s stock”.
Bob’s closed his deputation with a powerful request…
Lord Mayor and elected members – please look these proud people in the eye and try to imagine, as you return to your secure homes this evening, how they must be feeling.
These people are NOT pieces on a chessboard.
They are dignified human beings and deserve and need your support, and need it urgently.
This is a matter of conscience and justice.
Lord Mayor and elected members
Stop using the “fig leaf” of Section 21
Do the right thing.
Stop any further evictions.
Put yourselves on the right side of history.
Thank you for your time and kind attention.
His speech was followed by a standing ovation from many members of Leeds City Council. Councillors then voted to refer it up to senior officials and the Council will return to look at the proposals at a later date. Though, as Bob said in the Yorkshire Evening Post today, “it’s probably the equivalent of being kicked into the long grass”.
You can watch the webcast of Bob’s speech here. Fast forward to around 28 minutes in:
Thank you Bob, for your continued support of our campaign. We only hope they listen!