Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/654/10967
The Socialist 19 January 2011 |
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Fighting cuts in Somerset
Around the country, trade unionists and local campaigners are forming anti-cuts groups, even in smaller and usually quieter towns. Andy Pryor reports on a public meeting organised by Weston and North Somerset Anti-cuts Alliance.
WESTON SUPER Mare has not traditionally been a hotbed of militancy but our lively public meeting attracted 50 people on 12 January. North Somerset Council wants to cut £47.3 million over four years.
Children and Young People's Services could take the biggest hit with maybe 130 jobs disappearing in the first year alone, a third of the budget slashed along with a quarter of jobs. As the council is currently the largest employer in the area this will have far-reaching effects.
There were many excellent contributions in the discussion. We heard from a library assistant who has watched the service deteriorate through persistent lack of funding. When the council first introduced the idea of self-scanning machines in libraries, they told workers that the machines would mean workers could be on the library floor interacting with the public, and providing a more proactive, high quality service.
The council have now changed their tune. Now that the machines are on their way, so will the workers be. Apparently libraries can operate with fewer workers as the public can scan books in and out themselves! Our libraries are a vital part of our communities and we should campaign against any proposed closures and cutbacks.
A social worker spoke passionately about the disgraceful way those most at risk will pay the highest price. The council is seeking to cut the services designed to support children and families in crisis. With families facing job losses, pay cuts and pay freezes more support will be needed not less.
She pointed out that we face a national attack, so we need a national fightback. If the coalition government didn't turn up for work one day no one would notice the difference. On the other hand, if we all decided not to go into work then we could show where the power really lies.
There was a real resolve to take our campaign forward, starting with lobbies of council meetings in January and February, and throwing our full weight behind the national demonstration in London called by the TUC for 26 March. We also need to build for a public-sector stoppage leading to a general strike.
As a result of the meeting, a parent and a school governor came forward looking to build campaigns against academy status in their respective schools.