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Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Mass Council Tax Summons in Brent

BBC London TV News was out at Willesden Magistrates Court today, covering reaction to Brent Council's mass summons of 512 people over Council Tax matters — where only 22 turned up! The protest was organised largely by Unite Community and anti-debt charity Zacchaeus 2000, with support from Brent Fightback, Brent Housing Action and Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group -- one of whose members was part of the early warning system for the mass summons.

The vast majority who did not turn up will be subject to liability orders that will deduct 'money owed' directly from their pay or benefits and make them subject to court costs. Will anyone responsible for this policy take the time or trouble to investigate why the 490 who did not turn up did not turn up? Perhaps they were too ill, or out at work. As someone recently tweeted, perhaps the only part of government in the UK that is really listening to us is GCHQ?

I spoke to the BBC cameraman outside while most of the campaigners who remained were in court. He told me that he had done the filming of the Friday 18 October Camberwell Green Magistrates Court mass summons over Council Tax. He observed that Camberwell Green was a much better site for open air filming and perhaps the best bit of his filming outside Willesden Magistrates Court in the rain today was campaigners haranguing Brent Labour Council Leader Mohammud Butt. I had soon bored with the Butt-baiting, having heard it all before, and told Butt that he was leading people into quicksand with his 'only following orders' line. The cameraman took consolation in that his colleague was covering proceedings inside Willesden Magistrates Court, and people would later be coming out so he could do more filming.

Morning Star reporter Ryan Fletcher was also present, interviewing people present.

Alan Wheatley
Secretary of Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group

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