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Islwyn Labour Party calls for council no-cuts budget
Dave Reid, Socialist Party Wales
Islwyn Constituency Labour Party (CLP) has demanded Labour-led Caerphilly Council pass a no-cuts budget.
The CLP passed a motion from Maesycymmer ward calling for "all its serving Caerphilly councillors to plan for a 2019-20 council budget that will protect services and employment, not cut them."
Hundreds marched against the threatened closure of leisure facilities on 3 November (see 'Hundreds march to save Blackwood leisure centres').
Left-Labour activists spearheaded the campaign to defend Pontllanfraith leisure centre and Cefn Fforest swimming pool, and feel betrayed by Labour councillors who voted to close the centres. Some councillors who marched against the closures voted to close them!
The council leader and all the other right-wing councillors boycotted the CLP meeting, except for the mayor who stormed out after the motion was passed.
"We demand that our Labour councillors do not vote for any council proposals that may result in service cuts, job losses or privatisation, and instead that they demand that the Welsh government truly mobilise the public to ensure the Westminster government provide them with the money needed to adequately provide services."
The motion calls upon the councillors "to force the council to use its significant financial reserves and borrowing powers and if necessary to consider the drastic steps such as deleting the post of Chief Executive, in order to stave off making any cuts while building a campaign."
Caerphilly Council has been embroiled in a scandal costing more than £3 million. The previous chief executive was accused of using underhand methods to inflate his salary.
Campaigners are also moving the motion in Caerphilly CLP, the other constituency in the borough.
If the existing councillors continue to implement the cuts, then local ward parties should prepare to replace them as Labour candidates for future council elections. But the campaign cannot wait until the 2022 elections. The campaign to stop leisure cuts must be built into a mass struggle to force the council to step back.
And candidates for the Welsh Assembly elections in 2021 must give an unequivocal commitment to support a no-cuts budget by the Welsh government in line with the policy agreed by the Wales TUC in 2016.
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