Tolpuddle Photo: Nick Chaffey
Tolpuddle Photo: Nick Chaffey

Nine out of ten councils in England are raising council tax in April, many to the maximum amount they can without going through a referendum. On top of this, 52% are cutting spending, 93% are increasing fees for services such as such as parking and waste, 67% are plugging gaps with reserves and many are selling off land and other assets. These were the results of a recent survey conducted by the Local Government Information Unit.

This shows at the same time as bosses are attempting to protect their profits by increasing our wages below the rate of inflation if at all, we will be forced to pay more money to fund local government and receive a more expensive worse service.

That’s why for this year’s local elections the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), which the Socialist Party takes part in, has endorsed over 250 candidates. All candidates pledge to fight for no-cuts needs budgets and campaign with local trade unions, campaigners and residents to get back the money taken by over a decade of Tory austerity to restore the jobs and services we need.

There is still time to stand as a candidate, in order to receive your certificate of endorsement to stand for TUSC, get your application form, which you can find on, sent to the TUSC steering committee before 4pm on Friday 31 March.

“I am angry, I definitely would like to get involved,” said one Croydon resident to Socialist Party members campaigning against the 15% council tax hike and £36 million of cuts. We say, build a trade union-led mass movement to win the funding Croydon needs for our jobs, homes and services. These demands tapped into the anger local people feel as none of the pro-establishment parties offer an alternative to austerity – Tory or Labour.

Plymouth council leader resigns after tree felling travesty

Katie Holden, Plymouth Socialist Party

On the afternoon of 14 March, Richard Bingley, Conservative Plymouth council leader, issued an executive decision (not subject to council scrutiny), to begin chopping down 110 trees to ‘regenerate’ the city centre. Save the Trees on Armada Way (STRAW) was set up to stop this felling. Over 10,000 signatures were collected opposing the chop.

The council started cornering off the area with metal fences at 6pm, a time when most people weren’t there to witness it. They began cutting the trees down a few hours later lasting until late in the evening.

There is so much anger in Plymouth at what Armada Way now looks like and the damage done by the Tory administration. All parties represented on the council claimed they opposed the felling but Labour, Greens and the Independent Alliance (mostly former Tories) did not table a no-confidence motion in the council leadership until after the felling had been carried out. Just as there was no alternative to the Tory budget which this year included £23 million cuts and a 4.99% tax increase.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and Socialist Party members were the only political organisation to physically oppose the felling.

Richard Bingley has now resigned, and two Tory MPs have called on Labour to take over the running of the council, which they refused! At the full council meeting on 27 March, Labour even voted against nominating a new leader meaning that the Conservatives continue to run the council despite being in a minority.

The Socialist Party does not oppose the regeneration of the city centre but the pre-existing natural environment should have been considered.  We need democratic workers’ control of planning and the resources and infrastructure we need.

Grimsby TUSC launches election campaign

Nathan Newton, Grimsby Socialist Party

The Grimsby branch of the Socialist Party hosted a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) public meeting on 22 March, which 25 people attended.

Alex Hutchinson spoke from Hull trades council, which has adopted a policy of supporting anti-austerity candidates in elections. Grimsby Socialist Party member and Unite shop steward Mark Gee gave a personal account of his disillusionment with the Labour Party and campaigning to help the local community as a TUSC candidate. Dave Nellist, national chair of TUSC, confirmed that twelve TUSC candidates for North East Lincs council elections had been approved by the steering committee.

With several new people at their first TUSC meeting, including two directly from the leafleting, this was a great way to launch our election campaign.