Party may back national demo as local protests mount
LABOUR is prepared to back a national demonstration against local government cuts, shadow communities secretary Jon Trickett told the Star yesterday.
The Labour frontbencher hit out after warnings that further cuts to council budgets will lead to tax rises, ruined services and at least 25,000 more job losses.
Speaking exclusively to the Morning Star, Mr Trickett said he was “trying to speak to all the unions” and Labour councillors about linking up local campaigns “to explain that these cuts are Osborne-imposed.”
Chancellor George “Osborne is cutting services and raising tax both in the same year,” he said. “We have to say this is damaging the fabric of local communities, and that it’s very foolish economically.
“We need public displays of our profound objection all across the country, and why not think about a national rally of some kind?”
Councillors in many areas are considering putting council tax up by the maximum of 3.99 per cent — including a “premium” charge so they can continue to fund adult social care.
Local Government Association vice-chair Sharon Taylor said: “Councils have been planning for further funding cuts in 2016-17 but some will have to find millions of pounds more in savings than they had planned for in even their worst-case scenarios.
“It will be our residents who suffer as councils are forced to take tough decisions about which services have to be scaled back or stopped altogether to plug funding gaps over the next few years.”
And the GMB union, which represents tens of thousands of council workers, said that its officials have reported a further 25,000 job losses on the way.
National officer Justin Bowden said: “Councils are now making cuts to services they offer the general public like bin collections every three weeks or ending cleaning gulleys, as well as severe cuts to services for the elderly and for children.
“Regular home-helps and hot meals on wheels are from a bygone era. So much for David Cameron’s claim that front-line services would not be cut.”
Camden Unison branch secretary George Binette, who is expecting about 600 redundancies to be announced in his own borough over the next three years, said that the 25,000 figure “may well be an understatement” of the full toll.
“The assault on local government jobs and services continues apace,” he told the Star.
“Unless and until the talk from Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell of a serious national campaign against local government cuts translates into meaningful action, the future remains bleak.”
He called on Labour councils to support local demos and a national demo by this July to avoid “becoming complicit” in the cuts.