Sunday, 14 April 2013
Defend Harlow Welfare rights advice centre, keep up the campaign
Yesterday I attended a meeting with the friends of Harlow Welfare rights advice centre which is still in danger of closing for good. There is definitely a feeling that we can win this and various options are still open to the centre. The good people of Harlow have long supported the work of Harlow Welfare Rights and Advice in its efforts to serve the often hard-pressed local community. Recognising the clear need for the services provided by HWRA, Labour’s General Committee supported its retention before Christmas. What’s more, when the continued existence of the body was challenged on some dubious legal technicality the GC voted for a mediated solution that would not deprive the people of Harlow of this service. Yet at 7.30pm on 28 January, Labour-run Harlow council abruptly changed the HWRA locks, banning staff from entry and at a stroke bringing its vital work in the local community to a halt. Ever since it’s been a constant battle which has now taken on a legal side of things with a high court hearing in the pipeline. This is a labour council remember who regained control of the council last may in the local elections. Labour claim to be against cuts but in reality are the agents of managing the cuts and they think its far better to have a labour council administering a cuts package than Tories who would be far nastier they reckon. Yet events like this and labours failure to stand up for ordinary working class people in Harlow is another stark exposure of what a future labour government under the heel of austerity would be like. The friends of Harlow Welfare rights have done fantastic work raising funds in to the thousands of pounds this campaign must be kept up with publicity stunts and anyway we can keep the idea that HWRA has not lost and is still very much battling to save this vital service for the people of Harlow. As the cuts continue to deepen services like HWRA will become even more crucial with the need for in and out of work benefit and income advice. HWRA will now go to mediation with Harlow Council which is some progress seeing as they refused to meet with the centre for a long time so we have to hope the mediation is of some use if not its to the high court on the 14th of may where a coach will e arranged to take supporters to the high court in London to support the campaign we understand. Harlow TUSC has made defending HWRA a big part of our election campaign and anyone wishing to cast a vote in favour of TUSC this may in Harlow is voting to save HWRA in affect. We are the only anti cuts voice standing in the local elections this year and TUSC has pledged funds and support to the campaign and will stand by the workers and friends for as long as they need our support. Let your friends and family know donate to the campaign a lend your support if you can. We will be holding stalls in the town centre the next few Saturdays alongside HWRA and TUSC so do stop by and lend us your support.