Catherine Clarke, Southampton West Socialist Party
At our People’s Budget meeting, The Venny was on everyone’s mind. This little park has played a big part in the lives of many. Over 50 people packed into a small room at St Mary’s Leisure Centre, that we helped save from cuts previously.
Socialist Party member Nadia Ditta said: “We need youth services. If they take the Venny, there is nothing for 57 streets, and how many children?
“The council have got used to us saying nothing. Like lots of us, I was sitting at home complaining.
“Now we are coming together as a community. Join us, come out and speak out.”
Socialist Party member Declan Clune is secretary of Southampton Trades Union Council. He highlighted that when we are organised, we can force the council to find the money. This has been clear through the strike action taken by workers over the past two years.
Cuts hit hard
The Bevois ward is the poorest in the city. A decade of cuts have hit the area hard. The streets are filthy. Fly tipping is a big issue.
Many houses are multiple occupation, when tenants move, furniture is dumped. The council used to have a free service to collect large items.
Now it costs £85 to take away a fridge. We need these services restored. Housing is a massive issue. One small house has at least 15 tenants.
Karen, a housing adviser, explained that the Tory government has dismantled all renting regulations. We call for rent controls, and the council regulation of all landlords.
The Tory central government has cut over £500 million from Southampton since 2012. We demand that back!
If the Labour council set a no-cuts budget to meet the needs of the city, using its reserves and borrowing powers, instead of passing on Tory cuts, it could build huge support, and, linking with council trade unions, put massive pressure on this weak-and-divided government to restore funding.
These problems are not new, but there is a new mood now – ‘we have had enough’.
We demand our public money is spent on jobs, services and housing, not bombs, war and destruction, so no one goes cold, hungry or homeless here, in Palestine, and throughout the world. That is what Nadia will fight for when she stands as a TUSC candidate in Bevois in the council election in May.