Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/522/3841
Tales from the council chamber
Neither Labour nor Tories will defend public services
The most significant outcome of the recent Coventry council debate on next year's budget was how little would change whichever of the two main parties ran the council.
Dave Nellist, Socialist Party Councillor, Coventry
Coventry has been arbitrarily instructed by the Labour government to cut over £30 million from its council spending over the next three years. Not because we're overstaffed or providing council services nobody needs, but as a sacrifice to the great god 'efficiency'.
The result was that the council's Tory leadership proposed cutting 116 jobs to balance the books. Labour's amendment only sought to save 20 of these jobs, because it admitted it would abide by the same government restrictions and the other 96 jobs would still have to go.
No talk from Labour of challenging or persuading 'its government' to more fairly fund Coventry's needs.
That means under either a Tory or Labour run council, for example, we will still have shorter opening hours in some libraries as library staff are cut; less health development workers to run community based men's health clinics, or give nutrition advice; and less trading standards or consumer advice workers to warn of scams or tackle rogue traders.
In the debate socialist councillors made clear their opposition to all job cuts. But after discussing with council workers' representatives, they voted with Labour to try and limit them.
The message for May was clear, neither Labour nor the Tory party will put up a fight to defend essential services; for that the independence of socialist representatives will still be needed.
In The Socialist 27 February 2008:
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