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31 January 2018

Bristol anti-cuts campaigners debate alternatives to the cuts

Matthew Carey, Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance organising secretary

Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance (Badaca) hosted a public debate at Unite the Union's Bristol office on 24 January.

The panel was made up of former Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition anti-cuts mayoral candidate Tom Baldwin for Badaca, Esther Giles of Bristol Momentum, leader of the Green Party group on Bristol council Eleanor Combley, Keith Evans from Unite Bristol retired members' branch and single mum and community activist Kerry Bailes.

Also invited was Bristol's elected Labour mayor, Marvin Rees, but he chose not to attend.

The mayor led a protest march of 8,000 against austerity in Bristol last year which was supported by Badaca. He also travelled to Westminster to call for more funding from central government. But Rees was snubbed by Tory ministers who failed to turn up to their presentation.

Instead of standing up to government, Marvin Rees seemed to give up the fight. Huge proposed cuts were announced, which sparked big campaigns in Bristol to save the threatened services.

There have been some major victories including by housing campaign Acorn which stopped cuts to the council tax reduction scheme and others which saved 16 lollipop people, stopped plans to completely defund parks and green spaces and forced a delay in 17 library closures while a review is carried out.

Since September local groups have also been debating ways that we can find alternatives to the council passing on Tory austerity and ways of fighting back.

Badaca has also been collecting signatures on a petition calling for Rees to use reserves and borrowing to set a no-cuts budget and we have also written an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn calling on him to unite Labour councils in a proper fightback against the Tories.

With the weak and wobbly Tories barely clinging to power, it is time for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party to take a stand against austerity in local government.




http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/26823