Halifax Lobby and Demo
From Peter Robson
Monday, 21 February 2011
From the 'Calderdale Save Our Services' campaign can we just say a big thankyou to the people who attended the demo and lobby of the council chambers on Monday evening this week. Although, it was not a large turnout it was noisy, with the TV crew from Look North certainly capturing the 'spirit' of this.
People were allowed into the debating chamber of the council to challenge the horrendous decisions that Calderdale and similar councils all up and down this nation are taking at the prsent time. Sadly, as we know the councillors saw fit to pass this con-demned budget and all the cutbacks this will have for the district (65 million).
We argued to them in meeting after meeting that this could have been done another way, they could have set a needs budget that drew on the resources of this council that we know they hold but also councils up and down the country hold.
We also argued with councillors that were clearly uncomfortable with setting this budget but lacked the confidence to do anything about this there was a way forward; councils nationally again could use a combination of 'borrowing and reserves' to in efect; 'hold the line'. This would have bought some time for these councillors along with trade union members and local communities to build a resistance in every work place, school and colleges to fight the cuts.
It has been done as we know, Liverpool City council in the 1980's, with the pressure of a mass working class movement successfully gained extra resources from Thatcher and her Tory Government. Indeed, they built 5000 new homes from this, affordable housing and funded without debt, also a huge programme of social care etc for this City. If any councills today had shown a milligram of the conviction of the 47 councillors we would be living in a better place already. Unfortunately, new labour councillors up and down the country raise the spectre of surcharges for not imposing these draconian cuts!
We also discussed with them the power of surcharge under the Nolan Commission which was identified as wrong and abolished under the 2000 Local Government Act. Clearly, they were also worried that they would be barred from office, not so simple actually!
So, in light of all this, the fight continues, as I have said before it took two years to defeat the hated poll tax, this will continue until this govt are out of power and people are; 'really all in it together'! See you all in London at the end of the month and let's reassure this Govt we have not gone away.
Calderdale Unison and Save Our Services Campaign.
ps: I should also have said you are all very welcome to come along to the next meeting of the Calderdale Save Our Services meeting at the Bolton Brow working men's club this coming Tuesday 8th March at 7.30pm very near to Sowerby Bridge Town centre and accessible for the whole district!
This will be a lively evening full of debate around the awful situation that we are in and how we can build a credibale resistance to the cuts!
From Cllr Tim Swift
Sunday, 6 March 2011
Peter Robson's post is interesting but bears little relation to the situation actually facing local councils today.
Firstly, I hope no Labour councillor has discussed 'surcharging' with him since we are all well aware that surcharging has been abolished. And that's the point. Even if setting an 'illegal' budget was the right approach, it would not happen - the laws now would require the officers to simply set an alternative, legal budget that implemented the spending cuts forced by the government grant cuts.
Secondly, the use of reserves is a red herring. Even if it were possible to use all reserves in the way suggested, they are far below the £65 million cuts Peter himself identifies as being required in the next four years.
Thirdly, where is the evidence to demonstrate popular support for a policy of non-cooperation and setting illegal budgets? Representing and campaigning in working class areas of Halifax, I have to say I find a lot of hostility to the Government cuts, but little support for using local public services and public sector workers as the pawns in a battle with central Government.
The case for campaigning and political action against the cuts within the democratic, representational system we have is unanswerable; the case for action that steps outside those boundaries is unmade.
From Charles Gate
Monday, 7 March, 2011
Councillor Swift, this just means you are comfortable not with 'using local public services and public sector workers as pawns', but actually sacking public service workers (and also voluntary sector workers) and closing down or reducing public services and voluntary organisations.
From Peter Robson
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
I agree with your comments Charles and yes Cllr Swift is of course comfortable with the cuts or the New Labour mandarins would have certainly made more of an effort to divert these savage attacks away from working people. I note your comment Mr Swift from a year ago when you stated; 'we have asked residents and staff about which services they think are most important to cut and we will be taking their views into account when it comes to the council budget 2011-2012' Well, that maybe the case but that in my view is not only a race to the bottom of services and conditions but also quite offensive to people who are not only going to be effected massively but you actually have encouraged the ultimate humilitation of asking people in effect to do it themselves. X factor politics! Of course you will take the Labour line, that there is nothing we can do is in effect selective amnesia, a good thing to have and you appear to have this in abundance. As for your comment that it is still 'unmade' for the step outside of mainstream politics at the present, well the students certainly 'made' it recently and as you know the major demonstration at the end of this month will hopefully push that home.
SOS and Unison.
From Cllr Tim Swift
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
In response to the last two posts, there is a clear difference between demonstrating against the policies of an elected government (with the intent of changing those policies) and acting extra legally.
But the second point is that, as I've tried to explain, "no cuts" in local government spending is not simply illegal but actually unachievable because of the way the rules have been changed.
Do I assume from their positions that Mr Gates and Mr Robson will only work with people who take an absolutist "no cuts" position? Or will they cooperate with people - of all politics and none - who may believe in the abstract that reductions in public spending are necessary, but are angry when they see the specific impact of cuts to services that they value or depend on?