Yesterday, Shaun Bailey, MP for Wednesbury, Oldbury and Tipton, stood up for council tenants who, over fear of losing their homes, are being silenced against criticising Sandwell Labour.
Following a consultation earlier this month, Labour-led Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council have recently added a new draft clause to council tenancy agreements, limiting a tenant’s ability to criticise councillors. Tenants who are found in breach of this clause could be at risk of losing their home.
The clause states,
“You, people living with you and any visitors to your property must not use social media or any other form of communication to make false statements, abuse, threaten, harass or be derogatory towards council employees, contractors, agents or councillors.”
It continues: "Communication includes telephone calls, text messages, e-mails or posting comments on social media. This condition applies wherever the communication takes place."
Local MP, Shaun Bailey, who is an active campaigner for access to good quality social housing, spoke out about the shocking new clause, raising it in Parliament with the Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, stating, “The rot in the Labour administration in Sandwell is continuing to pervade. Last month, we saw the botched attempt by the council to close a care home in Tipton. Then we saw the moonlight flit on Tuesday of the leader of the Labour party in Sandwell, and now we have the disgraceful edict from the politburo—sorry, I mean the cabinet of Sandwell Council that if council tenants disagree with the council, they risk eviction from their home.”
Shaun continued: "I am sure my right hon. Friend agrees that this is a disgraceful situation. Can we have a debate in Government time about the shambles that is the Labour administration in Sandwell Council? The Opposition promised to deal with it. They have failed. Perhaps it is time for us to do something about it.”
The Leader of the House of Commons responded in shock stating, "I am appalled by what my hon. Friend tells me".
The Leader went on to say, "It is a very important point, and it is not the first time that the failings of Labour in Sandwell have been raised in this House”
Reflecting on the new draft clause, Shaun Bailey MP commented, "This is a new low, even for Sandwell Labour. This is reminiscent of historical socialist reschemes – not Black Country council tenancy agreements”.
Shaun continued, "Council residents should have the ability to criticise councillors without fear of losing their home. This isn’t right and once again its Sandwell Labour up to their old tricks”.