Demo to save Early Years service, Sheffield town hall, January 2013, photo by Sheffield SP

Demo to save Early Years service, Sheffield town hall, January 2013, photo by Sheffield SP   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Sheffield fight back, or we’ll have nothing left!

Alistair Tice

19 out of 36 children’s centres and nurseries to shut. 14 out of 27 community libraries to be axed. Stocksbridge leisure centre to close.

Even Don Valley stadium, home to Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis, could be demolished! £10.5 million sliced from adult social care. 600 more jobs to go.

These are the headlines in Sheffield after the Labour council unveiled what the local paper called the “Deepest Council Cuts Ever”.

In the new year, Labour council leader Julie Dore, along with Liverpool and Newcastle Labour councils, wrote to the Tory government warning that its savage cuts to local government funding would lead to “rising crime, increasing community tension and more problems on our streets …

“We urge them to stop … before the forces of social unrest start to smoulder”. Yet they make these cuts!

Councillor Dore has also said that “continuing government spending cuts will spell the end of the council as we know it”. And still they cut!

Announcing their budget, she said: “By the end of the decade, we will have nothing left other than statutory services and waste collection”.

Well, waste collection is already privatised, now highways and street lighting have been sold off. And still they cut!

£50 million is to be slashed from the budget for 2013-14, on top of the £140 million already cut over the last two years.

Most of those “savings” came from voluntary redundancies and management and administration costs. But the council admits that this year two thirds will come from cuts in services and increased charges and fees.

Spineless councillors

So our Labour councillors wring their hands whilst spinelessly carrying out these Tory cuts which they admit will devastate the city.

Well the Labour group may have no backbone but local people are beginning to fight back.

Sheffield poster, January 2013

Sheffield poster, January 2013   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

The staff and parents from the children’s centres threatened with closure are waging an inspiring campaign to save the Early Years service. 250 protested at the Town Hall in December and hundreds more will demonstrate on Saturday 19th January.

Daily petitioning has already secured the 5,000 signatures necessary to force a full council debate on 6th February.

This campaign has clearly got the council rattled. Last week, one Labour councillor started ranting and raving at a Socialist Party member who was helping campaigners petition outside the Town Hall.

How much more rattled will the council be if the trade unions ballot their members for strike action and the local community campaigns consider occupations of the centres to keep them open?

The Socialist Party is also proposing that the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) along with anti-cuts campaigns should stand candidates across the city in 2014 to challenge all the councillors that meekly carry out the Tory cuts. Now is the time to make a stand, or to use Julie Dore’s own words “We’ll have nothing left”!

Join the demo to save the Early Years service

Saturday 19 January 2013

11am Devonshire Green, march to Town Hall.

This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 14 January 2013 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.