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Wirral anti-cuts victory
'If you fight, you can win'
WIRRAL RESIDENTS and workers are cautiously celebrating the decision by Wirral council's LibDem/Labour ruling coalition to do a u-turn and revoke their decision to close eleven libraries across Wirral.
Dave Lunn, Wirral Against the Cuts, personal capacity
This decision was taken by the council following a nine month campaign led by the Wirral Against the Cuts (WAC) group. Socialist Party members played an important role in bringing the various library groups together, arguing for a political strategy including standing WAC candidates against any councillor who proposed or supported cuts as well as a campaign of lobbying, mass protests and peaceful direct action.
The role played by ordinary residents and workers who supported the campaign, many of whom were involved in struggle for the first time, also deserves a special mention. Their determination and enthusiasm played a vital role. Wirral TUC also played an important role, providing vital resources for the campaign.
Due to the level of pressure that was generated by our campaign amongst the local community, culture secretary Andy Burnham was forced to call a public enquiry into the library closures. Its report is expected to be severely critical of the council and it appears that the council may have decided to limit the political damage by acting pre-emptively before the report is published.
What is clear, however, is that despite the u-turn on the libraries, the council are still determined to push ahead with other cuts identified in their Strategic Asset Review (SAR). This threatens the disposal of other municipal buildings, including leisure centres, museums, a theatre and various community halls across Wirral. In addition, there are also plans to make devastating cuts in socialised adult care and to privatise local parks and open spaces. The fight clearly needs to go on!
The council plan to 'rob Peter to pay Paul', but instead they should be demanding additional funding from central government. While it is clear that there are plans for swingeing cuts in public spending at all levels of government, campaigns such as ours - linked to other community campaigns and those of public sector workers - can be instrumental in defending our public services and public sector jobs. The recession is not of our making so why should we pay the price? If money can be found to bail out the banks why can't it be found to support and improve vital public services?
WAC now needs to step up the campaign to defend all local services from cuts and privatisation and start building pressure on all the main parties ahead of next year's council elections.
Although the battle has been won, there is still a war to fight. However, what has been shown by this week's announcement is that if you fight you can win!
26 Feb Austerity kills
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