Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/6719
Fight for a needs-led budget
In Wirral this year, the attacks on council services have gone into hyper-drive. 12 libraries, seven youth centres, 3 sports centres, two museums and a theatre face closure; 18 school lollipop patrols are to be scrapped; 29 social worker post to be axed - replaced with unqualified staff to some extent, in the aftermath of the Baby P case a worrying proposal to all but the councillors and senior management; Day Centres for those with Learning Disabilities face closure or privatisation. It has even got to the point where a management memo instructs staff to "pinch paper and anything else when at meetings"!
Faced with a budget deficit of £12 million the council leader proclaims he has no choice. This deficit is partly through financial incompetence of their own making - £millions invested in Icelandic banks, a rumoured five-year deal to pay fuel costs at this summer's prices (when fuel prices peaked); yet no councillor is called to account. Part of the blame also lies with the levels of Government funding.
The campaign against the cuts will need to focus on a fight for more resources, and call for a needs-led budget. The various communities in Wirral cannot afford these closures nor can we accept the either/ or approach (we can keep centre A open if we close centre B). The council have chosen their time carefully, consultation periods over Christmas and no elections this year; however such is the scale of the attacks it does create a major opportunity to build peninsula wide anti-cuts campaign. Socialist Party members will participate in this campaign and link it to the wider issues.