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21 February 2018

Labour councillors push through savage cuts in Kirklees budget

Matthew Hirst, Huddersfield Socialist Party

Every single Labour councillor in Kirklees, Yorkshire, pushed through an eye-watering budget on 14 February, with over 29 million of cuts to services, and promises of more to come in future years. This is on top of a 6% hike in council tax, increases to car parking costs, school bus fares and school meals.

Public anger is seething because despite hearing from Jeremy Corbyn that Labour is "for the many, not the few", Labour councillors are ignoring him and heaping misery on constituents at the behest of the Tory government.

300 council jobs and 1.9 million is to be cut from library services. The council has already closed down two children's play areas with no notice to residents and a further 400,000 is to be slashed from parks and greenspaces.

And while every council up and down the country is saying that they are spending more and more on adult social care, Kirklees council has decided to cut its budget by over 4 million by reducing care grants and the amount of petrol allowance that carers can claim, driving wages down even further in what is already a poorly paid role.

While Labour councillors argue that this is due to a reduction in central government funding, they sit on combined total reserves estimated at 120 million! Instead they should be using these reserves, along with their prudential borrowing powers, to plug the gap in funding from the Tory government and then demand the money from Theresa May.

The cut to central government grants is simply a backdoor tax that the teetering Tory government dare not pass themselves, so instead they reduce the funding to councils and then expect the councils to plug the gap with council tax hikes and cuts.

We are intending to stand two no-cuts Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidates in the area to argue the case that another way is possible. Already in debates with Labour supporters, they are "seeing our point" after explaining that a no-cuts budget is legal, despite what the capitalist press may say!

We already have two public meetings called and are canvassing and leafleting both wards in the run up to the council elections in May.

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