Sue Atkins, Southampton Socialist Party
Local authorities up and down the country, including Southampton, face a financial crisis. The chancellor’s budget will do nothing to plug Southampton’s budget gap. Already the city council has carried out £164 million cuts and 1,000 jobs lost in the last eight years, with further cuts to come. This has impacted most seriously on the poor and vulnerable in the city. 30% of the city’s children are growing up in poverty, and there are 10,000 families on the housing waiting list.
The Labour council failed to stand up for the people of Southampton during the last decade when they were in charge. Libraries have been handed over to volunteers and care homes have closed. Council youth services have been shut down and any remaining service has been pared to the bone.
Labour paid the price at the ballot box in May this year when they lost seven seats and their majority on the council. We now have a Tory administration which will carry on the bidding of Johnson’s government. What credibility could the Labour councillors possibly have in opposing them following their record of abject cowardice and lack of fighting leadership?
This is the backdrop to the decision of Southampton Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition to call a People’s Budget conference. It will be the first step in bringing together trade unions, community organisations, local campaign groups and all who want to develop a plan and an alternative budget based on the needs of our community, not the diktats of the government.
We have named the date and booked the venue. We are inviting as many people and organisations as we can. We now plan visits to trade union branches and others, and are inviting speakers. A flyer has been printed to advertise the event that we can use on campaign stalls and meetings we attend.
The event will also be an opportunity to see who would like to stand as a no-cuts candidate in next May’s local elections, as we aim to stand in every seat.
With a system in crisis, we need socialist policies and councillors who are prepared to fight for them. Our conference aims to play a leading role in building this alternative.
- Southampton People’s Budget conference, Saturday 13 November, 2-4 pm at Friends Meeting House, 1A Ordnance Road, Southampton