Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/706/13931
Portsmouth: Anti-cuts activists present an alternative budget
Portsmouth Socialist Party
Austerity is not working! That was the message delivered to Portsmouth city council on Tuesday when 100 anti-cuts activists lobbied the annual budget setting meeting, before presenting a 'needs budget' as an alternative to a second wave of cuts.
The lobby was organised by Portsmouth Against Cuts Together (PACT), a community group supported by the city's trades union council. PACT brings socialists, trade unionists and community campaigners together to oppose all cuts to jobs and public services.
PACT also presented a needs budget in 2011 when the council voted for the first wave of cuts. This year the Lib Dem-run council proposed a further £20 million of austerity with an intention to cut up to £45 million over three years.
Speaking at the deputation on behalf of PACT, Socialist Party member Ben Norman said: "It is clear austerity is not working. It is a failed strategy, born of a failed ideology, and by continuing with it you are failing your communities."
Deputations were also made by the Unison union to oppose the planned 250 redundancies of local council workers, and by the Portsmouth Pensioner's Association who argued that the cuts are having a disproportionate impact on those who most need support.
PACT called on the council to oppose all cuts, to reverse decades of privatisation and to reject the council tax grant from central government which will result in even more cuts in 2013.
As an alternative to austerity PACT called for a budget to meet the needs of the city, not the demands of central government. This included investment in homes, creating 'climate' jobs and reinstating the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
Through its ownership of a commercial port the council is asset-rich and has one of the largest reserve funds in the country. PACT called for these funds to be used to delay cuts while the council worked with unions, community groups and neighbouring councils to campaign for extra funding from central government.
As neither Labour nor the Tories, considered the official opposition, proposed an alternative budget it is clear that the unions and community groups are now the real opposition to austerity.
To continue to build this opposition PACT will be hosting it's AGM on 5 March, 7.30pm and Southsea Community Centre.
In The Socialist 22 February 2012:
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party feature
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Reviews and readers' comments