A new group is fighting for women affected by changes in the pension age in Hartlepool.
Around 100 women attended the inaugural meeting of the Hartlepool WASPI Branch, alongside campaigners from Hartlepool, Middlesbrough and Easington.
I am so proud to that so many Hartlepool women have come together to form a local branch of WASPI. It demonstrates the strength of feeling there is amongst women in the town on this issue.Coun Lesley Hamilton
Women Against State Pension Inequality was set up as a result the introduction of The Pensions Act 1995, which increased the state pension age for women from 60 to 65 in order to equalise it with that of men.
The change was initially supposed to be phased in over 10 years from 2010 for women born between 1950 and 1955, but was accelerated by The Pensions Act 2011.
Some women found that they would have to wait up to six years longer for their state pension, which campaigners say not only affected their retirement plans, but pushed some of them into poverty and forced others to sell their homes in order to make ends meet.
This week the High Court ruled that legal action taken on behalf of the Women could proceed to a full hearing.
Barbara Crossman and Lynne Taylor organised the meeting together with Coun Lesley Hamilton and Jo Spires of UNISON.
“We have been campaigning hard for a long time as part of a Tees Valley wide network of WASPI Women, but wanted to establish a branch of our own here in Hartlepool to ensure the many thousands of women in the town who are affected by this issue can get the right support and have a voice,” said Barbara.
Lynne added: “Over 5,000 women in Hartlepool alone are victims of state pension inequality and it’s about time their voice is heard.
“Both myself and Barbara attended a debate on the issue in Parliament and we have previously attended rallies in London. Over 3.5million women have been robbed of their pension rights up and down the country and we are determined to get our just deserts.’
Coun Hamilton said: “Hartlepool council recently unanimously passed a motion supporting the WASPI Women and has written to the Government urging them to do something about this appalling situation.
“I am so proud to that so many Hartlepool women have come together to form a local branch of WASPI. It demonstrates the strength of feeling there is amongst women in the town on this issue.”
The meeting was addressed by Pat Heron from UNISON and the Northern TUC as well as Easington and Hartlepool MPs Grahame Morris and Mike Hill.
Mr Hill said: “It was a fantastic turnout and I pay tribute to Barbara and Lynne for stepping up to the plate as WASPI women and championing the cause of women in Hartlepool.
“The Prime Minister herself is a victim of this ridiculous robbery of women’s entitlements to pension, but unlike Theresa May, women who have been robbed of their pension are struggling to cope and in some cases have lost their homes.”