Councillors must resist cuts

Councillors must resist

Naomi Byron, Tower Hamlets Socialist Party

Lord Porter, Tory chair of the Local Government Association, says that “even if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light, they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by 2020.”

It’s ironic that Tory councillors are starting to openly criticise cuts to local government as Labour administrations, like Tower Hamlets in east London, are keeping on cutting essential services.

Poorest bear brunt

Yet again it’s the poorest and most vulnerable that will bear the brunt of these cuts if they go ahead. These cuts include: charging for social care, shutting libraries on Sundays, scrapping bursaries for undergraduates and new teachers, cuts to children’s centres and early years services… the list goes on.

Cuts to school trips and school crossings are some of the most cowardly proposals.

Mayor John Biggs says that these services won’t go as schools can fund them instead. But how many teachers or essential repairs would the schools have to cut in order to keep them?

To add insult to injury Biggs is proposing a 4% increase in council tax alongside the cuts. This is causing real anger.

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is campaigning for a no-cuts alternative ‘people’s budget’. We are working with the Tower Hamlets Independent Group of councillors, as well as local trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners, to build resistance to the proposed cuts.

Jeremy Corbyn

TUSC opposes all cuts. This chimes with council workers, local residents and anti-cuts campaigners. Just as Jeremy Corbyn is vilified in the media but has mass support for his pro-working-class, anti-austerity message, we believe it is possible to build a real mass movement against cuts, linking Tower Hamlets up with other cities drawing up alternative budgets.

The only way councillors can stop the huge Tory cuts is to mobilise a mass campaign of the council workforce, local residents and anti-cuts campaigners.

The best way to unite the maximum number of people against government cuts is to refuse to implement them. Those who say we should pick one cut over another as ‘realistic’ are being divisive.

Council housing, the welfare state and the NHS would never have existed without the courage of people like the Poplar councillors in east London in the 1920s declaring that they would do what is necessary, not what the media and other politicians told them was ‘realistic’.