Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/992/27258
Southampton: the cuts or no cuts election
Sue Atkins, Southampton Socialist Party
In Southampton we are in the enviable position of campaigning to get Keith Morrell re-elected as a socialist anti-cuts councillor for a second time.
As a Labour councillor Keith was expelled for voting against cuts and fighting to keep Oaklands swimming pool open. He was reelected in 2014 as an independent anti-cuts councillor and is standing again this year. Along with fellow councillors Don and Tammy Thomas, Keith has shown that if you fight, you can win.
We have a great team of helpers and are out every day leafletting, canvassing and running stalls. The canvassing returns are very positive and we have every hope that Keith will be voted in again.
In February we saw a grand opening of the city's new cultural quarter - at a cost of £30 million, £20 million of which came from us, the local taxpayers.
We are now told that the council will have to fork out another £4.4 million to complete the project, which is five years behind schedule and costing more than double the original estimates. No question here of 'no money'.
Labour council leader Simon Letts says he doesn't need to know what the final bill will be because: "The numbers are the numbers" - so, the private contractors can rest assured they have a blank cheque from the council!
This is in cruel contrast to the rest of council services. The council's own figures tell us that they have cut £120 million and axed 1,000 jobs over the last five years in response to the Tories' squeeze on local government.
Local campaigners, backed by Keith, have fought long and hard to keep a respite centre for adults with learning disabilities open. It has been closed since November, but due to continuing pressure, is on the way back to being re-opened.
Alongside Keith there are five candidates standing as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition. We also support two other candidates campaigning to re-open Kentish Road Respite Centre.
If Labour councillors continue to say that nothing can be done, then they must expect to be challenged. By participating in the elections this year we are helping to shape the debate on what needs to be done, and will be the only ones offering a clear anti-cuts alternative to the people of Southampton.
Save our schools!
Central to the election campaign is the crisis in school funding. Over the last year a dynamic, determined campaign has been organised by local teachers, supported by the Fair Funding for All Schools group and the teachers' union NEU.
The latest lively demonstration took place on 21 April attended by many teachers, teaching assistants, parents and children, with a clear message to the councillors present that we expect them to support our schools in deeds as well as words.
We demand they use their powers to allow 'licensed deficits' so that schools can provide for children's needs - until a new Corbyn-led government can be elected and provide the resources to fully fund our schools.
Unfortunately, the Labour council has a policy that unlike funding of the cultural quarter, the schools' budget must be slashed under a regime of threats and bullying.
In The Socialist 25 April 2018:
Local elections 2018
What we think
Socialist Party news and analysis
Labour and the unions
Workplace news and analysis
International Workers' Day