June 19, 1987. INDEX

4,000 stage singing siege at Town Hall


MORE than 4,000 residents of Waltham Forest stood singing and chanting in the pouring rain outside the Town Hall last night.

They were holding their third mass demonstration against the borough's 62 per cent rate increase.

And the protest received a tremendous boost last night by the resignation of Labour councillor Mr Richard Slack, who told his colleagues he could no longer support the council's stand on the issue.

The shock resignation of Coun. Slack, coming so soon after the unseating of Walthamstow's Labour MP Eric Deakins last week, will be seen as a major coup for the Waltham Forest Ratepayers Action Group, which is fighting the increase.

Last night the residents sang Roll Out The Council, Sack Them All and Run Gerrard Run, the latter referring to council leader Neil Gerrard.


Shouts of "Out Gerrard out" failed to get the leader to come out of the town hall to meet them.

WFRAG have, raised over £300,000 towards their campaign so far and have spent £10,000 in court costs.

The case will go before the High Court on July 13 at a cost of £250,000 a week and they are hoping it will only last a week.

The group received a setback this week when a High Court Judge agreed an application by the council to have the 31 Labour councillors discharged from the action. The ratepayers are, however, appealing against the ruling.

Coun Slack was chairman of the council's planning committee and vice-chairman o»f several others.

He told Mr Gerrard last night that he intended to remain a Labour Party member and would not support either of the opposition parties who hold 26 of the council's 57 seats.

Mr Gerrard said: "He said that he had reached the point where he couldn't carry on supporting the group and that it would be dishonest of him to continue.

"I'm sorry it has come to this but on this issue, he has been honest right the way through."

Coun Slack was replaced as planning chairman following the full council meeting by Coun Jonathan Brind.

Labour had a majority of three last night to reject Tory and Alliance motions calling for the legal action to be ended and pledged that the court case would be contested.

NOTE:The figure £300,000 appears to be an error, since even at the end of the campaign WFRAG only had about £100,000. Perhaps it should be £30,000?
London Daily News June 19, 1987.
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