Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/656/11082
Protesting against all of the cuts
On a march organised by Stroud Against Cuts and Gloucestershire Trades Council, the small town echoed to the sound of 500 anti-cuts protesters determined to oppose the cuts agenda of the coalition government and Tory-led county council.
County library services face 43% cuts with 23 libraries out of the current 43 to be lost, and many serve catchment areas of over 10,000 people. Of the 32 council funded youth services, only six district hubs, with restricted access, will remain. Stroud district council faces one of the largest percentage cuts in the government grant of any council in the country, 28.6% by 2012/13.
Trade unionists from PCS, Unison, Unite, and Usdaw spoke alongside campaigners, Labour, Green and Socialist Party representatives and a local author. Tax dodging by the rich was mentioned by several speakers.
After the demo a debate took place between a former Labour MP, a Green Party councillor, PCS Wales chair and DWP group national vice president Katrine Williams, and Chris Moore of Gloucestershire Socialist Party. Katrine and Chris made their opposition to all cuts clear, supported by most in the audience.
But the former Labour MP thought this position might put off those from single-issue campaigns.
At previous anti-cuts meetings Socialist Party members have raised the idea of a 'no cuts budget' with Green and Labour representatives, both have seven district councillors.
The Greens showed initial interest but have made no commitment, Labour has stayed silent. The anti-cuts movement is building in Stroud and Gloucestershire and will challenge all those imposing or supporting the cuts.
Chris Moore Gloucestershire Socialist Party
Unison members working for Bolton council lobbied the council executive as it met to accept the proposals being put forward by directors for £90 million cuts over the next four years.
Around 100 people turned up to make loads of noise and show their disdain for the executive. We then went into the town hall to hear the cuts plans.
The council says it has to cut £60 million out of its spending over the next two years. That's roughly 25% of its controllable budget, while the number of looked-after adults and children in the district increases.
The cuts will be frontloaded, including an estimated £42 million in 2011/12 and £19 million in 2012/13.
Services will be 'downsized' with many social welfare programmes being abolished. Children's Services is one of the areas hardest hit.
Between 600 and 1,000 jobs would go over the next 15 months. Around 1,300 council employees are now receiving letters informing them that their jobs are at risk.
The council meeting ended to chants of "Con-Dems out!" from the lobby. Forthcoming protests include a Bolton libraries campaign protest on 5 February, 11-1pm outside Bolton library, and a lobby of the council executive on 14 February from 2.45pm at Bolton town hall.
Andy Thomas, Bolton Unison (personal capacity), and Robert Mitchell, South Lancashire Socialist Party
Over 150 college students and workers joined together to march through Havant in the first demonstration the small Hampshire town has seen in many years.
The demonstration, organised by the Havant section of PACT, the Portsmouth Anti-Cuts group, began in the centre of town and ended outside the constituency surgery of MP David Willetts, the Minister of State for Science and Universities.
The march was supported by Portsmouth trades council as well as the PCS, Unison and Unite union branches, and was led by community activists and college students from Havant.
The Havant march, which followed a larger march in Portsmouth, will in turn be followed by a lobby of the Portsmouth city council budget setting meeting on 8 February. PACT will be challenging the councillors by presenting a 'needs budget' as an alternative to the austerity budget of cuts they will be voting on.
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More than 200 council workers, campaigners and residents protested outside Southwark's full council meeting on 25 January. They were angry at the Labour council's plans to slash £33 million from this year's and £18 million from next year's budgets.
These cuts will have a drastic effect on all services and will result in 400 council workers losing their jobs this year.
Councillors were clearly worried about a big protest as they did their best to reduce the size of the protest by calling the meeting at 4pm in the afternoon.
They also tried to prevent protesters from standing outside the front of the town hall by locking the gates at the front of the building and deploying council wardens and big numbers of police at the entrance to the town hall. However, this did not prevent a very lively protest and rally with speeches from local campaigners and trade unionists.
For the latest reports on meetings, protests and industrial action taking place against cuts, and to find out about meetings and events in your area, go to: www.socialistparty.org.uk
In The Socialist 2 February 2011:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party Marxist analysis