Hello! My name is Ben Timberley, and I’m one of the editorial team here at Nye Bevan News. I’m a Parish Councillor in Erewash (Derbyshire), and a Labour Party member.
I’m also a SUSPENDED Labour party member.
In early 2017, I was approached by several local constituents about a developing situation with a lack of grounds maintenance being implemented by a local housing association – East Midlands Housing (EMH). EMH are also a member of the National Housing Federation. At first, the complaints were about an almost total lack of grass cutting and garden area maintenance. Soon however, I started receiving more serious complaints about unsanitary and unsafe housing situations, and terrible service from EMH. As word spread that I was looking into this, the complaints turned into a flood of requests for help.
So I founded the East Midlands Housing Action Group. The group has achieved a lot since it’s founding, and is the first in a larger network of groups. It’s a group for tenants to talk to each other, and support each other in a safe space. It is also useful for interested stakeholders to participate constructively in dealing with any key issues that appear. Since its founding the group has successfully lobbied EMH to fix its grass cutting operation, get terrible housing situations resolved for local tenants, and for the tenants to start receiving the support they deserve – especially with the Universal Credit farce. Recently, EMH appear to have really upped their game, so I’m glad that I started the group and that it is achieving its aim.
As a seasoned campaigner, this sort of challenge is normal for me. With a couple of TV appearances, lots of letter and email writing, casework and public support, we made enough noise to annoy EMH into taking action.
I mentioned above that I was suspended from the Labour Party…
The local party official in charge of ‘investigating’ me for my alleged ‘crimes’ (I still don’t know what they are), is one Emma Foody. She is the East Midlands Labour Party Regional Director. She is also employed as the East Midlands National Housing Federation’s “External Affairs Manager”. Generally that job title is used for ‘fixers’ and ‘spin doctors’, and of course; ‘corporate lobbyists’.
I cant possibly imagine why Ms Foody would want to remove me from the party… but then with lobbyists, you need to see who their friends, colleagues and peers are: Step up Mr Chan Kataria, the Group Chief Executive of East Midlands Housing Group, and former Chair of the East Midlands National Housing Federation, Ms Foody’s employer.
If someone is making themselves a nuisance for your organisation, the standard practice is to take them out quietly, by discrediting them, and undermining their public influence. Suspension from the Labour Party is a great method of doing this, as it carries significant social stigma and stress, and implies guilt without the need for evidence. Some party members have taken their lives because of this implied guilt.
When you’ve got an insider effectively ‘on the books’, who is ideally placed to take out a grassroots campaigner, it’s a relatively straightforward affair of asking them to do it.
Corruption in politics takes many forms… is this one of them?
By Ben Timberley