Sunday, 3 April 2016

Born SL5 and fighting back!

We were in Maidenhead on Saturday - I urgently needed something and in desperation headed for the Charity Shops along the high street - Maidenhead has more choice than most places!

Afterwards we headed down to the river to have an ice cream by Boulters Lock and sat taking selfies in the sunshine. It was a lovely spring afternoon.

But that was after I'd managed to work myself up again when I came across this protest outside Maidenhead Town Hall;

What you need to know is that 'The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead' Council covers one of the richest areas in the country.

Some seriously wealthy people live here and if there are other areas that are richer, that is likely to change soon.

In just a few years 'Crossrail' will be running; a multi billion pound railway line linking the outer west and outer east of London - the wealthy commuter belts with The City of London.

It's a project that all taxpayers have to fund but which will benefit only the richest.

Because there will be stations at Heathrow, Slough and Maidenhead, property values are already rocketing now - speculators from all around the world will be moving in as soon as the opening date gets nearer.

What did the council do this morning?

They shut the homeless shelter in Maidenhead.

I'm really proud of the residents of the centre, instead of drifting away they've formed a protest group called 'Born SL5' and they're camping out on the lawn of the Council offices.

The funny thing is there's no shortage of housing in Maidenhead - as I write this the old 'Skindles' hotel which dated from the 19th century is being demolished to make way for a massive and ugly luxury housing development along the river bank.

No room for the homeless there.

The title 'Born SL5' came about because the members of the group were all born in the 'SL5' postal district of Maidenhead but can't afford to live there anymore.

Of course there's no statutory requirement to help the single homeless and the hostel was regarded by the council as a discretionary expense - one that they can cut and they won't be breaking the law.

As a result a lot of people who relied on the hostel are now back on the streets.....and this borough is about as unsympathetic as any.

Talking to some of them I learned that they'd been in contact with their Member of Parliament; the conservative Home Secretary Theresa May. At one point they'd been told that she would visit but by the time I got there it was looking unlikely.

But the press have been around and it's a protest worthy of our support.

It's a strange situation when we can spent billions supporting the rich while the most vulnerable are left on the streets.

So if you're passing give them some support.

Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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