Bedroom tax will be a ‘disaster’

Bassetlaw residents have joined MP John Mann in submitting their concerns regarding the proposed cuts to local ambulance stations
Bassetlaw residents have joined MP John Mann in submitting their concerns regarding the proposed cuts to local ambulance stations

One of the groups that the soon to be introduced Bedroom Tax will hit hardest are grandparents who regularly look after a grandchild or two because of problems at home.

It might be domestic violence, or issues with drugs and alcohol. It might just be that relations with a parent at home have broken down and the grandparents step in to help at a difficult time. This is a regular part of life for many families. I make no judgement on this, other than to state that these grandparents do a magnificent job for their family and for the community. They step in when they are needed.

Now many of these heroes will be penalised by the bedroom tax - couples who keep a spare bedroom precisely to deal with such emergencies.

But there is another type of grandparent that will be equally hit. Those from families with no such bother or worry. They want to have their grandchildren regularly because of childcare responsibilities and because they enjoy looking after them. They too may be hit by this nasty tax.

Of course for those in the Cabinet who have expensive nannies and send their kids to private boarding schools there are no such dilemmas. None of their family lives in council property. They actually do not know what they are talking about, living a cosseted life and ignorant of the majority in the country.

Instead of U-turning on supermarket beer, which would have given our pubs a fighting chance of survival, this Prime Minister should be U-turning on the bedroom tax. Like the window tax of 150 years ago and the poll tax of twenty years ago, this tax is a disaster for communities and will prove to be a disaster for government.

Another problem is back on the streets of London: homelessness. For the first time for years, there are now people sleeping in doorways and on the street as I walk to and from Westminster. I saw this regularly in the 1980s and 1990s, but hardly ever since. Homelessness is back with a bang and I fear for the situation in Bassetlaw. I think we need to keep supporting Hope for the Homeless in the work they do to keep on top of this problem in our area.

I was pleased to see Bassetlaw Council win an award for the work done on the Bassetlaw Olympics. It showed a new way of working, with the council facilitating sports clubs to do their thing and I hope that we will see far more of this into the future.

There has been a rumour that the police station is closing in Worksop. This is not something that either I or the people of Worksop can accept. I have no problem in the police relocating from small older stations and basing themselves alongside other service providers. Frankly, if Retford Fire, Police and ambulance all relocated onto one purpose built site I would see this as a big step forward.

However, these changes are only being considered as part of the cuts and in Worksop they would be a cut too far. There is no money for emergency services relocating together and therefore we need to maintain and improve what we already have. If the police need to make cuts, then look at the £69,000 spent on patrolling a handful of late night pubs, the majority of whom do not want to stay open late, then this would be a good annual saving.

The majority of late night pubs stay open into the early hours because they fear losing business to their competitors. So we have staff working longer, police working longer, hospital over stretched and for what? It’s high time that we called a halt to this nonsense and instead again put on a reliable bus in the early hours from Sheffield back to Worksop.