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Coalition Against Water Charges

category armagh | consumer issues | news report author Monday September 26, 2005 11:16author by Roger Clifford - Craigavon Trades Councilauthor email rog1clifford2 at hotmail dot com Report this post to the editors

Craigavon Trades Council organised another successfull petition signing in Portadown Town centre on Saturday 24th September. As expected the response was very positive and supportive.There being a huge grassroots opposition to the impossition of this unfair double tax. However the one worrying trend was a certain ammount of resignation that for all our efforts the government would push this through come what may. If feel this is due in no small way to the over all lack lustre campaign mounted by the "Coalition".. Craigavon Trades Council can see the potential for this campaign to get off the ground but there seems to be nothing happening anywhere else!!

author by socialistpublication date Mon Sep 26, 2005 13:24author address Belfastauthor phone Report this post to the editors

I understand the frustration at the Coalition Against Water Charges - the Trade Union "led" campaign that is leading no one anywhere. Certainly, it needs a fire lit under it - maybe all the activists should turn up to a meeting and light that fire. There is a fair bit happening here and there on the ground though. I'm in Community Against The Water Charges and that campaign has been going from one working class housing estate to the next holding small meetings which then get people from the estate to go around and get pledges for non-payment. CAWT has done a lot around North Belfast, a bit in South Belfast, a lot in Derry and has also got groups working in smaller towns. It seems that all the left groups, except for the Socialist Party, are working with CAWT and the Northern Ireland Anti Poverty Network is coordinating this and has a volunteer worker who is organising a lot of the work. The Socialist Party's "Don't Pay" campaign is also doing bits and pieces although they are unwilling to work WITH anyone else which makes it difficult to know what is really happening in that campaign.

author by %publication date Mon Sep 26, 2005 13:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

["A retired social worker today became the first female pensioner to be sent to prison for refusing to pay council tax arrears.
Council tax rebel Sylvia Hardy, 73, was sentenced to seven days by Exeter magistrates court today.
She was found guilty of failing to pay arrears of 53.71 in council tax from last year - plus 10 costs - and was in breach of a 56-day suspended committal order issued earlier this year.
The court's chairman, Louis Crowden, said: "If everyone paid their debts on the basis of what they thought appropriate this country would descend into anarchy."]

She said :-

"I made a decision to withhold part of the council tax demanded by Devon county council because the increases during the past 10 years have risen by 50%."

"In one year alone the increase was 18.5% and in another 10%. My occupational pension increases by only 1.7% a year and the inflation rate by between 1% and 3%."

"On top of this tax, we are required to pay the highest water rate in the country, plus ever-increasing payments for gas, electricity, telephone, etc, well above the inflation rate."

"Undoubtedly this is totally unfair and has got to stop,"

author by Billypublication date Mon Sep 26, 2005 17:09author address author phone Report this post to the editors

This speech by Eamonn McCann to a meeting of the Socialist Environmental Alliance at Sandino's, Derry, Wednesday, September 21 just about sums up what New Labour are doing in / to the North, while pretending to be honest brokers in the peace process.

"Peter Hain is lying about water charges.

"In his speech to "business leaders" in Belfast earlier today (Wednesday) Hain said that if people in the North want better health and education we'll have to pay more in local charges. He referred specifically to water charges, which the NIO wants to introduce in April 2007.

"This is dishonest propaganda intended to pull the wool over our eyes. Peter Hain knows that the revenue from water charges will not and cannot be used to fund hospitals or schools or any other public service.

"The water charges revenue will not be public money at all. It will be private money. It will go into the coffers of a private company, not into the public purse.

"On Monday, true to New Labour form, the NIO used the controversy over recent violence to slip out news that it had handed control of water treatment facilities to a consortium of private companies---including the notorious Tyco International. This outfit, based in the tax haven of the Bahamas, was in the news the same day for another reason---the jailing in New York of former chief executive Dennis Kozlowski and finance chief Mark Swartz for up to 25 years. During the case, Tyco had been exposed as a company in which law and common decency were treated with derision as its bosses looted the funds and lived like Roman emperors while treating workers and customers with contempt.

"In Hain's eyes, that didn't make Tyco ineligible to take over a key component of our water industry. It probably enhanced their credentials.

"According to Katharine Bryan, the ludicrously overpaid blow-in who was handed the job of chief executive of our Water Service, the private consortium which includes Tyco is intended to provide half the North's water supply.

"Not a single person in Northern Ireland voted for this. Not one political party has come out in favour of it. But Hain and his crew impose it on us anyway. And then he has the gall to lecture us about the need to pay more to qualify as proper British citizens!

"There's been a a lot of discussion about the root causes of recent violence in both Protestant and Catholic communities. Not enough attention has been paid to the role of cross-community rage against the arrogance, dishonesty and undemocratic behaviour of Hain, Woodward and the rest of the gang of no-goods at the NIO.

"Hain has some neck to claim that we are not paying our way compared to people across the water. It's the opposite of the truth. Families here pay over the odds when compared to Britain for gas, electricity and other fuels---not to mention necessities like food and non-alcoholic drink, clothing and footwear.

"Hain has the figures available to him. He ignores them because he doesn't give a toss for the facts of the matter. Households here pay an average of 265.20 a year more on fuel than the average for the UK. We pay 431.60 more on clothes and shoes, 213 a year more on food.

"But benefit levels are the same here as there---and wages are lower.

"How dare Hain tell us we are sponging off the British treasury. It's a wonder nobody has yet given him a clip on the ear.

"We should respond to this insulting speech by calling on local political parties and the trade union movement stop shilly-shallying and put their weight behind Communities Against the Water Tax. Tell Hain we are just not having it. Mass non-payment will put manners on this fake-tanned pup."

Related Link: http://www.socialistenvironmentalalliance.org
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