|Issue 7 - July 1972|
|On the evening
of July 10th I was present at a meeting of the Durham City Council
Housing Committee in the Town Hall. All went well and then, after about
an hour, item 12 came up for debate.
Nothing much really - just an application by Durham Claimants' Union for the use of one of the council's empty properties to be used for temporary accommodation for some of the many people who have asked the CU for it.
Nothing to shout about. But wait. What's this? Within a few minutes uproar. Wor Sam that canny councillor from up the Avenue storms out. Wots gannin on? Even the toon clerk didna have time te read the letter oot wen , 'no help at all' and 'we didna need claimants' unions te tell us wat te do or how to run wor business' - remarks like that - were heard. The Claimants' Union didna have a chance.
Wor Sam told the council that organisations like the DCU who did a good job should be allowed to use the property until it was needed by the council. 'But once they're in ye canna get them out' was their answer. Then Sam, and one or two others in favour, were told more than once by the chairman who repeated it for the sake of Mr Oates, wor sanitary inspector that they were unfit te live in, unfit te live in. At this Mr Oates who had taken the hint, said yes unfit to live in and then it all started up. Wor Sam said something like 'Yes. Now! But they wouldn't have been if you'd let people move in straightaway as soon as the owners moved out'. During the uproar, wor Sam - Voice of the People - came out with that nasty word 'bloody' and a little old lady woke up startled, brushed the cobwebs off and said "in all my 30 years here I've only heard such a thing once" and wor Sam should apologise or leave. Further uproar and in the end, rather than being thrown out for believing and doing what was right, wor Sam, bless him, left and we followed, disgusted at wor Sam's treatment and that of the CU.
To finish, Durham Claimants Union need never have wrote to the council but could have gone straight in and squatted. But they hoped that the council would follow some good examples and give or rent them a property. But, as the council have taken this attitude towards the CU then we must see what the next step is. But first a warning to the council. DCU have shown others it can bite and it will be watching them very closely and inquiries are being made by them regarding squatting if any of their clients are in urgent need of a room or rooms. They will squat and it will be in ??? - have a guess. You've got enough empty houses etc to house about 50 families and rooms for I don't know how many single people. Am not tellin yer. Hav a guess.