Ed Miliband has emphasised Labour’s commitment to combat legal loan sharking by promising to give councils more powers to ban payday lenders and pawnbrokers from town centres.
In a speech this week, Ed spoke of why Labour will act on this issue; “One of the fastest growing businesses on the high street are the payday lenders, sometimes charging extortionate rates of interest. In hard times, it is no wonder people turn to them. But often they just engulf people in debts that they cannot pay.” He added that many councils felt they did not “have the real power to stand up for local people”,
This announcement is a further demonstration that only Labour will stand up against the vested interests of the payday lending industry. It’s why Labour is winning support from all sections of the community on this issue – including Dartford Conservatives. A Labour sponsored motion, calling on the government to give councils the power to veto licences for high street credit providers was passed at Dartford Council last month, after winning support from the Conservative leader, Jeremy Kite.
Britain has a choice between a One Nation Labour party which will stand up for the many, or a Conservative-led government standing up for the few. When even the Leader of the Tories in Dartford is backing Ed Miliband’s policies, it’s no wonder that the rest of the country are deserting David Cameron’s government.
The Dartford Labour Party’s campaign to end legal loan-sharking in the borough has received a boost this week after a Labour sponsored motion – setting out measures to tackle high-priced lending practices in Dartford – was successfully adopted by Dartford Council on Monday (18 March 2013).
“This is a major success for Labour’s campaign to end legal loan-sharking in Dartford,” said Cllr. Geoff Prout, Labour’s shadow leader of the council. “High-cost lending products, such as payday loans, are pushing far too many people into a viscous debt spiral from which they can’t escape – we’ve now won the council’s backing in the fight against these practices.”
Stella Creasy, Labour’s MP for Walthamstow
Upon hearing of this success in the council chamber, Labour’s MP for Walthamstow, Stella Creasy - who has been campaigning nationally to end legal loan-sharking – congratulated the Dartford Labour Party.
“It’s great to see what Dartford’s Labour councillors are doing to fight back against the legal loan sharks who are targeting communities up and down this country,” said Stella Creasey. “This motion sends a strong message that they won’t tolerate the exploitation of local people struggling to make ends meet – I hope everyone will support their efforts to hold these companies to account for the damage they are doing and to show the Government the support there is for a cap on the costs of credit.”
Labour activists campaigning in Dartford to end legal loan-sharking
Members of Dartford’s Labour Party were in the high street on Saturday (9 March), campaigning to end legal loan-sharking in the town. Activists had a great response from passers-by and it’s clear that the overwhelming majority of local people that our activists spoke to are deeply concerned about the problem of sky-high interest rates charged for products like payday loans.
Unfortunately, our town centre has become something a magnet for high-priced lenders and pawnbrokers – usurious operations that can leave some of society’s most vulnerable members trapped in a viscous debt spiral from which they cannot escape. Indeed, the Office of Fair Trading has recently issued a devastating analysis of the sector – it discovered that 50% of this sector’s profits are being generated by consumers being encouraged to roll over loans, leaving them racking-up huge costs, month on month, that they just can’t afford.
But Dartford’s Tory MP, Gareth Johnson, doesn’t seem worried. He was even moved to congratulate one such operator during a visit to its Dartford store back in September. Incredibly, he’s on the record as saying its services “are useful in helping provide extra cash to individuals and families that may be experiencing short term cash flow problems.” Yet that particular lender says on its own website that it charges an eye-watering representative APR (annual percentage rate) of getting on for 700%.
Labour says such excessive interest rates must be capped and will work to encourage access to affordable lenders, such as local credit unions.
Dartford has seen a real increase in payday loan companies or ‘legal loan sharks’, offering loans at rates which push increasing numbers of hard-pressed people into bankruptcy.
Brighthouse, Moneyshop, Cash Converters all charge extortionate rates of interest to local residents. Without action to tackle these extortionate rates, these firms are simply legal loan sharks.
This Saturday (9th March) Dartford Labour will be in the high street talking to residents about this issue, handing out leaflets and highlighting the work of cheaper, community based alternatives, such as Credit Unions.
Please come and help us campaign on this important issue. We’ll be meeting at Labour HQ – 99 Kent Road,Dartford from 10.00am. If you’ve never been campaigning with the party before – now is the perfect time to start! You don’t need any experience – just enthusiasm!
Please do contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or @dartford_labour for more information
Speaking at Dartford Borough Council’s annual budget meeting on Monday night (25th February), Cllr. Geoff Prout, Labour’s Shadow Leader of the Council, called upon the ruling Conservative administration to “lend a hand” to residents – by helping them to get onto the first rung of the property ladder, through the establishment of a Local Authority Mortgage Scheme (LAMS).
“Dartford’s Tory-run council needs to follow the lead of Labour councils around the country, including nearby Gravesham, who have signed up for LAMS – a scheme which enables young people to realise their dream of owning their own home,” said Cllr. Prout . “Why haven’t the Tories chosen to lend a hand to first-time buyers in our borough?”
The Football League has announced it is ending its sponsorship deal with high cost credit provider Wonga, ahead of an attempt by football supporters to campaign against legal loan shark advertising in the game. The campaign is called “A Red Card for Wonga“.
You can let the Football Association know you support Stella Creasey MP’s call for them to extend their current ban on alcohol and gambling adverts on merchandise for those aged under 18 to include high cost credit companies. Click here to take action with us now.
Dartford Labour meanwhile is in discussion with Kent Savers Credit Union, about how to offer a meaningful alternative to payday loans. Credit Unions offer finance for people who may have difficulty getting access to bank loans, while still paying reasonable interest rate; and as mutual organisations, are owned by members.
Dartford has seen a real increase in payday loan companies, offering loans at rates which push increasing numbers of hard-pressed people into bankruptcy. Exhorbitant interest rates trap borrowers into a cycle where each pay day brings increased worries, as wages immediately have to be reserved to pay the lender. Four payday loan companies have been reported to the Office of Fair Trading for unfair practices.
Steve Doran has made a video about her experience about being trapped by payday loans:
If you’re in a similar position, help is available: from Kent Savers as above; from Debt management charities like Payplan, or from Dartford Citizens Advice Bureau on 01322 224686
Dartford Labour Party has today welcomed news that Tesco are now planning to proceed with a revised scheme for the redevelopment of Lowfield Street.
Speaking in response, Cllr Matt Bryant, Labour’s Deputy Leader, said:
“Its all very well the Tory-run council expressing their frustration with nearly a decade of delay and inaction by Tesco but this has happened on their watch and ultimately they must take some responsibility.
Park protest, 2004 (Picture: BBC)
“All this delay could have been avoided if Cllr Kite and the Tory leadership had not pursued for so long the hugely controversial scheme which involved driving a two lane road through Central Park. Thankfully that was rejected following a major campaign by thousands of local people led by the then Labour MP.
“Since then the Town Centre has seen business after business leave or go bust, and shops and houses boarded up. That has left today’s criticism of Tesco by Tory Council Leader, Jeremy Kite, sounding somewhat hollow.
“The sooner that work now starts on Lowfield Street the better; the people of Dartford have waited far too long and the Tory-run council have let everyone down by prevailing over a sad decline that continues to blight our once proud town centre.”
The Dartford Labour Party has today condemned the Tory-run borough council for its shambolic approach to the vital regeneration of Dartford’s town centre after a record emerged of inaction and doubtful spending priorities.
Despite being granted £79,500 in so called ‘Portas’ money last May to support the regeneration of the town, it has come to light that the council has so far spent little more than a fifth of it – yet the need to act quickly to stem the town’s decline has never been greater. Moreover, it seems that the council has spent funds on projects that are highly unlikely to make any tangible difference to the town – such as £1,610 on hiring a man in a Peppa Pig suit, or well over £300 on shopping in Waitrose.
Such inaction and dubious spending decisions appears not to have impressed Mary Portas – she had been due to take part in an event at Dartford’s Orchard Theatre late last week but pulled out at short notice. With businesses, such as Mothercare, having left the town or others, like Clintons and Peacocks, having simply gone bust as the recessionary conditions continue, Labour has called on Council Leader Jeremy Kite to get a grip on this issue and to take urgent action to stop Dartford from becoming a ghost town.
Speaking after the revelations emerged, shadow leader of the Council Geoff Prout said: “Dartford’s town centre is facing a crisis and it beggars belief that Cllr. Kite thinks blowing the Portas money on a man in a Peppa Pig suit, or shopping in Waitrose, is going to solve the town’s problems. It’s shambolic, wasteful and has made Dartford a laughing stock.”
Last week, the Dartford Labour Party welcomed Labour’s newest MP – Andy Sawford, the recently elected Labour MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire – to the town.
At a very well attended constituency party dinner, Andy – a former Dartford borough councillor – was warmly greeted by old colleagues and had the opportunity to meet the local party’s newer members. He shared his campaigning experiences and spoke passionately about the relevance of Labour’s core values given the growing pressures being forced upon hard-working families by the Tory-led government. He also said that, while the task of re-electing a Labour MP in Dartford seemed like a huge challenge, it could nevertheless be done.
Andy Sawford (centre) with councillors Pat Kelly (left) and Tom Maddison (right)
At the age of just 23, in 1999, Andy was elected as a Dartford councillor – representing Littlebrook ward until 2003. Soon after his election as a councillor, he was appointed to Dartford council’s cabinet as the member for community involvement and citizenship. Andy took the Corby seat from the Tories at last November’s by-election with a 7,791 majority.
Dartford Labour Party welcomes last nights historic House of Commons vote in favour of Equal Marriage.
This decision is another important step forward for equality in Britain. Dartford Labour strongly supports equal marriage because we believe that gay and lesbian couples deserve the same recognition from the state and society as anyone else. It should be the right of everyone in our community to get married if they wish to do so.
We are disappointed that Dartford’s Conservative MP chose to vote against this important bill. Last night, Gareth Johnson had an opportunity to show his willingness to champion the hopes and wishes of all sections of our community. In opposing this bill many residents will feel that he has not stood up for them and will also feel let down that he did not support the right of gay and lesbian couples in Dartford to have their loving relationships celebrated and recognised by marriage.
We believe that Gareth Johnson has shown himself to be out of touch with the values of Dartford in 2013. Many will feel that this is another example of a Tory party that appears intolerant, old fashioned and promotes inequality.
Labour will continue to stand up for the rights of everyone in Dartford. We don’t believe that the person you love should determine the rights you have. We will continue to support the Equal Marriage Bill in its progress through parliament.