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28 February 2018

'Anti-austerity' Bristol Labour passes 34 million cuts budget

Tom Baldwin, Bristol Socialist Party

Bristol City Council will make another 34 million of cuts in the coming year. This cuts budget was proposed by Labour mayor Marvin Rees and voted for by Labour councillors.

This was despite the intervention of a distraught mother whose daughter had taken her own life a few days before.

Her explanation of the failures of social and mental health services brought home the brutal reality of what austerity means. She said that further cuts would mean "a lot of blood in this council chamber". But still the cuts continue.

Rees even congratulated himself and the council on passing a 'prudent' budget that would protect services! He ignores the fact that he is making the cuts the Tories are demanding. There can be no kind way to make these cuts.

I spoke at the start of the meeting, presenting a petition from the Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance calling for a no-cuts budget. The council has choices and could use its position to resist the cuts.

Bristol council has around 80 million in general reserves and over 200 million in 'usable' reserves, as well as the power to borrow cheaply. By using some of this money it would be entirely possible to set a legal and balanced budget, without cuts, while a mass campaign is built.

It is not just the Socialist Party and the anti-cuts alliance that have put forward this approach. It has even been urged on the mayor by elected bodies of his own party. Yet he still parrots lies about 'illegality' and claims to be powerless in the face of cuts.

We will continue to push for an anti-cuts fight from our council. Even if they don't then we will continue to fight every cut ourselves. We cannot stand to see another worker lose their job. We certainly cannot stand to see another parent lose their child.

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