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Stop funding Law Centres

Enfield Council is being denounced for not bailing out the Enfield Law Centre which has closed after building up debts. A council spokesman said:

"The council cannot always be called upon to bail out for organisations with thousands of pounds of hard earned council taxpayers' because they have failed to run their organisation properly. Our duty is to spend council taxpayers' money wisely and to ensure front line, bread and butter services are fully funded first and foremost."

There is a wider point. What are Councils doing funding Law Centres, often by hundreds of thousands of pounds a year? The next time a Conservative Council leader declares cutting the Council Tax to be "impossible" this would be a reasonable question to ask. Law Centres are dominated by the radical left. In choosing which cases to take up there judgment is politicised. For them it is part of the class war to back the tenant facing eviction, the worker being sacked, the asylum seeker facing deportation. Of course sometimes they will back valid claims but their judgment is skewed. Nor are they necessary - people with valid claims can seek redress through legal aid. Inevitably they also end up suing local councils, sometimes with expensive test cases. So we have the Council Taxpayer funding both sides in sometimes protracted litigation.

The Haldane Society for Socialist Lawyers boasts that: "Many of the Society's members were involved in setting up law centres" when they got under way in the 1960s. The Haldane Society was once banned by the Labour Party due to its links with the Soviet Union and was British affiliate to the "International Association of Democratic Lawyers."

In Hammersmith we have maintained funding to the voluntary sector on the grounds they provide a better service than Council staff. But within that total we cut funding to the Hammersmith Law Centre who had represented Afghan hijackers. They were greatly bucked by their victory described by Tony Blair as "an abuse against common sense." and invited Yvonne Ridley as the guest speaker at their AGM. (Ridley managed to embarrass her Party leader in Respect, George Galloway, for saying Muslims should no cooperate with the police.)

I don't think our Law Centre is particularly left wing incidentally. I think other Law Centres are on the same wavelength. When we cut their funding they naturally pitched up at the Town Hall waving placards before Council meetings. They are old pros at agitprop. Other Law Centres behave much the same. But for Conservative Councils to go on funding them to avoid a bit of noise would be pathetic.


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