Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/430/5049
Stoke: Socialist councillors do their job
AT STOKE City Council's budget-setting meeting on 6 March, Blairite elected mayor Mark Meredith tried to pass on government cuts of £21 million over the next three years through cutting jobs and services, increasing council tax and more privatisation.
Meredith (on £78,000 a year) told us that this would involve a "programme of efficiency outstripping anything tried by this council before". This will result in "a reduction in staff numbers" which would be "voluntary then compulsory". It would also charge £20 for Blue Badge holders and remove payment for the first three sick days of a council worker's illness.
However, these slash and burn policies were thrown into turmoil by the alternative 'No Cuts in Jobs and Services - No Privatisation' budget, proposed by Socialist Party councillors Dave and Paul Sutton.
This budget called for no cuts in jobs and services, an end to the freeze on job replacements, no privatisation, no increase in council tax together with a broad-based campaign to fight for the return of money taken by years of government cuts.
New Labour councillor, John Beech, raged that this budget would "send out the wrong message" and claimed: "We got elected to do a job". But no councillor was elected to cut jobs, services and increase council tax.
Seven Independents voted for the Socialist Party alternative budget. New Labour and Tories voted against. The two BNP councillors, who claim to represent 'British white workers', again showed their uselessness by voting against the alternative budget.
Only 30 out of the total 60 councillors voted for the New Labour mayor's budget - nine voted against and ten abstained. With local elections coming up and embarrassed by the Socialist alternative budget, even the Labour group's leader and deputy leader abstained.
Just four weeks after leaving New Labour and joining the Socialist Party, councillors Paul and Dave Sutton have already had an impact in the council chamber. Stoke Socialist Party will make sure opposition to New Labour's attacks grows.
Sheffield Socialist Party
Sheffield Socialist Party took to the streets this weekend leafleting for the local elections. Calvin Payne will be standing for us in the election and we will be campaigning mainly on the NHS and on the crisis of the buses.
It has been recently announced that pensioners will be able to use the buses, rail and tram for free after 9am. This is a significant gain for pensioners and the We Want Our Buses Back campaign has played a role in directing pressure from the general public onto the council and private operators.
Working-class people will have the chance to vote for a candidate that will fight for them. We are not just looking for votes but for people who feel the same way we do about cuts and privatisation and who want to help us change society.
In The Socialist 9 March 2006:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news