Tributes pour in for beloved Bolton trades unionist Brian Northey (1940-2020)

Brian spent his life fighting against injustice and for a better world for all.

Tributes have poured in from across the trades union and Labour movement following the death of much loved veteran trades unionist and lifelong Socialist Brian Northey who died last Tuesday aged 80. He is survived by his wife Lynn, his daughter Ann, son John and his grandchildren.

Leading those paying tribute to the former AEU, Amicus & Unite full-time official, as well as former Bolton Trades Council President during the 1970s & 80s, Unite the Union colleague and Bolton Councillor, Martin McMulkin said: “Brian touched the lives of thousands of people with his integrity, humour and big heart. Brian’s legacy will live on because wherever people stand against injustice and believe a better world is possible, Brian’s spirit will stand with them and his flame will burn in their hearts”.

“Politically Brian was a committed socialist and played an active part in local and national politics, chairing his local Breightmet Branch and Bolton North East Constituency.

“He never shied away from holding to account local and national career politicians who he believed where not acting in the interest of the working class.”

Bolton Trades Council’s Secretary, Andrea Egan said: “He was a fighter for the working class who campaigned all his life for a better world, and for those who knew him personally he was a great inspiration. He never minced his words, was straight to the point and God help if you were on the receiving end.

“Brian will leave us with a big gap in our lives and for many a big gap in our hearts, but he will always remain in our minds and with us in our fights ahead.”

Writing in The Morning Star newspaper his long-time Labour Party and Trades Council colleague Bernie Gallagher writes:

“He came from a humble background and struggled financially for many years with a young family after being blacklisted for trade union activities. As a consequence, he fought all his life for the repeal of anti-trade union legislation.

“In 2016 Brain was awarded the Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Socialism by the Bolton Socialist Club. In his nomination he was described as ‘The scourge of employers across Bolton and beyond’ as it was said that he always put the members first.

“It is the view of many in the Labour Party, and an opinion shared by many beyond, that Brian was the finest full-time union official the town has ever seen.

“Known simply as Northey to his members and friends who he served with dedication, commitment and passion, Brian’s contribution to improving the life of so many is immeasurable.”

Confederation of Shipbuilding & Engineering Unions (CSEU) General Secretary Ian Weddell said Brian was “…a tireless, life-long campaigner and Socialist. Chair of CSEU District 29 long into his retirement with a keen interest in seeing money from the 35 hour week campaign go to good use in the Alex Ferry Foundation. He was a friend and comrade who will be sorely missed”

Former local (NUT) Teachers’ Union and Trades Council Secretary Tom Hanley said: “Brian was part of the fabric of trade unionism in Bolton for as long as I can remember.

“His dry sense of humour, often accompanied by tales that might have provoked defamation claims if repeated, lightened many a post-meeting pint. But his energy and commitment to trade unionism was immediately evident (I think it led to his being blacklisted during Thatcherism). He was active in most campaigns for workers rights throughout his working life and beyond, and was never afraid to get stuck in where necessary.

“I will miss him, value the time I’ve spent with him, and celebrate his great contribution to improving the life of so many by his unswerving commitment to building a world which serves the many, and opposing always the powerful few who stand in our way.”

Fellow Breightmet Labour Party colleague, NHS Ward Sister Marlene Stringfellow said:

“I first met Brian in 2016, when I joined the Labour Party. He was still the Chair of the Breightmet ward at that point. Brian was most welcoming and encouraging – and although I knew him only for a relatively short time, he certainly made a huge impact.

“During the 2017 leadership contest, I came to appreciate his commitment. He always made himself available as we campaigned locally, despite his health beginning to to fail at that point. However, I came to recognise that he was a colossus and clearly respected by many with his unflinching socialist ideals.

“He often had a twinkle in his eye, as delivered his colourful speeches. He became very dear to me, and will be greatly missed…..”

There are many other tributes and kind comments on our Facebook page.

Brian’s funeral will take place at 1.00pm next Tuesday 17th November at the West Chapel, Overdale Crematorium , Overdale Drive (off Chorley New Road), Bolton BL1 5BU

Members of the Trades Council and Brian’s other Trades Union and Labour Party colleagues are being asked if they wish to, and are able to get there, to stand outside the West Chapel from 12.30pm onwards in a socially distanced show of respect for Brian and of solidarity with Lynn and other members of his family at this sad occasion. Please note masks are to be worn throughout.

We think Brian would also want all his comrades and friends to heed the famous words of Joe Hill and rather than mourn is passing to instead step up their organisation and effort to achieve all the things he himself devoted his life to fighting for.

Farewell Brian Northey – We will miss you dearly

They have Empty Hearts, Our Kids have Empty Plates – PROTEST

Maggie stole OUR milk, now they want to steal our kids free school dinners. Merry Christmas from The Tory Party! Empty plate protest outside
Maggie stole OUR milk, now they want to steal our kids free school dinners. Merry Christmas from The Tory Party!

If you can attend please do so outside the offices of Chris Green MP (Bolton West) and Mark Logan MP (Bolton North East) at 9:00am Friday 30th October. Their addresses are listed above.

Don’t forget to wear a mask and maintain social distancing.

If you’re unable to attend, please either:

Take a photo of yourself holding a plate with a message about FSM, or, make a video of yourself holding a plate with a message saying why you support our campaign for FSM during the half term and Xmas breaks.

The photos and videos will appear on our website:

Here’s a photo of the empty plate protest outside not so Christian Wakeford MP’s office in Bury

Photo of the empty plate protest outside not so Christian Wakeford MP’s office in Bury.

Stop the Covid Evictions

Bolton Against COVID Evictions (BACE) was set up specifically to reduce the impact of COVID 19 on the most vulnerable members of our community.

MISSION STATEMENT

No one should lose their home because of COVID 19 arrears yet Bolton faces a bow wave of COVID related evictions. 

We aim to help people stay in their homes through providing advice and support to tenants and by demanding that the Local Authority and Landlords fulfil their obligations and remain within the law.

We seek a permanent solution that will see council houses built and managed by the local authority.

PRESS RELEASE 21-09-2020

Monday the 21st September will see us in Bolton Town centre calling for the government to do more for those who will be threatened with eviction and calling upon Bolton Council to prepare for additional renters seeking emergency housing assistance from them.

In a very short time we have seen our support grow amongst Trade Union, Community and faith groups across Bolton who share our concerns and are proud to work alongside Greater Manchester Law Centre and Greater Manchester Tenants union.

The threat of eviction for those with COVID 19 arrears

Homelessness often has lifelong consequences for people.  The social and financial costs of homelessness and resettlement are huge and will fall to our already over stretched council.

Precarious employment, zero hour contracts, a shrinking jobs market and the worst sick pay in Europe all contribute to the increasing vulnerability of renters with many people struggling with in work poverty and just one pay packet away from destitution.  Giving people longer to pay only delays the inevitable, you cant pay 24 months rent with only 22 months pay

Israel has gone into the 2nd lockdown and we in Bolton are worried about the lack of testing and how that may allow a second wave to develop under our noses making many of our community even more vulnerable.

Families who are evicted often have their work, school and access to medical care disrupted too.

In her review of the ONS analysis by local area and socio-economic deprivation Bolton Councils Consultant in Public Health Lynn Donkin concluded that “Therefore we might expect to see disproportionate impact of COVID 19″

Government approach 

In March Robert Jenrick said that “no renter who has lost income due to coronavirus will be forced out of their home”. But the government have done little more that to kick the can down the road which gives renters little comfort and we need to see a long term solution to the housing crisis.  Firstly by the halting evictions until the end of august then giving a 11th hour reprieve pushing that date back to 21st September and more recently banning evictions for six months the government have shown a lack of understanding and an unwillingness to come to the aid of renters as they did their friends in business.

The financial cost of evictions will fall upon the public purse and we demand an fully resourced intervention.

Bolton Council 

Have not assessed the potential number of evictions

Is unprepared for the additional evictions

Will end up overstretched unless they prepare

Will foot the bill for emergency accommodation

In a response to a member of our group the lead member for the council replied that 

We don’t know about possession orders because we don’t have a Mag’s court.

This is something that GM are looking at

1. We don’t know about possession orders because we don’t have a Mag’s court.

Possession orders are heard in County Court, not the Magistrates, Bolton has one within the combined courts.

The authorities duties under HRA extends the period an applicant is “threatened with homelessness” from 28 to 56 days, and in addition ensures that anyone that has been served with a valid section 21of the Housing Act 1988eviction notice that expires in 56 days or less is classed as “threatened with homelessness”

Prevention is the key here and hence our question about assessment of the problem and allocation of resources 

It is possible that a tenant does who does not have the correct advice who leaves when a landlord serves a notice could be deemed intentionally homeless and the council would claim that they therefore have not got a duty towards them

The advise is always stay put (unless a risk of harm)

2. This is something that GM are looking at

The duty falls to the council, and whilst there may be collaboration, you’d hope that there was, the duty remains with BMBC for its residents.

On its own website BMBC says

Preventing homelessness

There may be ways in which we can help to prevent you from being homeless.

If you’re having problems with any of the following, please get in touch with us:

Your landlord has asked you to leave……..

We can help you stay in your accommodation by offering:

A mediation service

Help with your money

Talking to your landlord on your behalf

Advising you of your rights and responsibilities

Support with your tenancy

Find alternative accommodation

The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (HRA) will be enacted from April 2018. … The Act places a number of new or strengthened duties on local authorities that are designed to ensure all households at risk of homelessness receive earlier and more effective interventions

The part of the HRA that we are most concerned with at this point is outlined in Policy Fact Sheet: Threatened with Homelessness clause 1, which we are most focused on extends the period an applicant is “threatened with homelessness” from 28 to 56 days, and in addition ensures that anyone that has been served with a valid section 21of the Housing Act 1988eviction notice that expires in 56 days or less is classed as “threatened with homelessness”

Landlords

We are calling upon Greater Manchester social housing landlords to pledge never to seek possession for rent arrears on “mandatory” grounds and hence reduce the risk of unjust evictions resulting from CV19 by making one significant commitment – 

A pledge not to issue rent arrears possession proceedings on mandatory grounds.

Author:

Kevin Allsop, Treasurer, Bolton TUC

Photos and videos from the Bolton Against Covid Evictions event in Victoria Square, Monday 21st September 2020.