Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/498/3025
Campaigners force Labour councillors to back off
How far will they go?
OPPOSITION TO council plans to shut schools and leisure centres in Cardiff pushed local Labour councillors into retreat when over fifty people attended a meeting organised by the Socialist Party on 25 July in Llanrumney.
Veteran Llanrumney campaigner Geraldine Evans spoke about the importance of the leisure centre and the open space surrounding it. I described the Socialist Party's campaign against school cutbacks and argued that the best way to fight the closure of Eastern Leisure Centre is a united campaign against the closures agenda that also threatens three local high schools.
Speakers from the floor also urged unity: one spoke up for Rumney High School, which faces the axe, and accused the council of planning to sell off public land to private property developers; someone else addressed the lies told about Llanedeyrn High School, which, despite gross underfunding, had improved exam results last year, but is still threatened with closure.
Derrick Morgan, Llanrumney Labour councillor, initially attacked the meeting organisers for their "political" speeches, but other attendees clearly thought it was appropriate to be 'political' if that meant fighting the closures of schools and leisure centres!
Morgan and Jacqueline Parry, another local Labour councillor, then conducted an amazing U-turn and pledged to oppose the closure of Eastern Leisure Centre. However they would make no promises to support a campaign, including opposition to the school closures.
To have forced councillors to publicly oppose a closure shows the potential of this campaign. Campaigners must force these councillors to oppose all closures, in actions as well as words.
These councillors can prove their sincerity by making opposition to the closures programme the policy of the whole of the council's Labour group.
Otherwise, councillors will hypocritically show one face to local residents, while showing another in council meetings by backing closures in other parts of the city. Another meeting is planned to set up a campaign group and plan action.
In The Socialist 9 August 2007:
Committee for a Workers' International
Socialist Party events
Environment and socialism
Tales from the council chambers