Coventry City Council announces plans for devastating cuts
Coventry City Council has announced plans for further crushing cuts that will affect people all across our city.
Working class people across the board will be hit – there are plans to increase Council Tax whilst weekly bin collections are stopped meaning the public paying more but getting less, reductions in Council Tax Support that will damage low paid workers, the threat of another 200 jobs being slashed (on top of the 2,100 that have been lost since 2010), and the possibility of the terms and conditions of the remaining staff being attacked and much more.
The Council are already ‘consulting’ on plans to close and cut public libraries, nursery provision and youth clubs, looking to replace staff in libraries with volunteers who will work for free. All this at the time Coventry is bidding for City of Culture!
In addition to the council cuts, of £19 million in the next financial year rising to £36 million a year by 2020, Coventry is also due to lose by 2020 a further £30 million across all schools in the city. That’s a 14% funding cut and, if those cuts are not challenged, they could be hundreds less teachers in the city in four years’ time.
Tory austerity is hitting cities like Coventry hard. The Coventry Telegraph estimates that the city has lost around £95 million in funding since 2010.
Is there an alternative to hundreds of job losses, “redesign” of bin collections, rising charges for burials and cremation, for car parks and in the council tax – whilst the vulnerable and the working poor face cuts in Council Tax Support?
Yes. And it has to start with Labour standing up to the Tories, not just, however unwillingly, doing their work.
Unfortunately rather than put up any resistance the Council have proceeded to implement all cuts that have been asked for by central government.
The Labour Council should be honest with the people of Coventry: cuts are already hurting – and the further cuts coming in educational services such as speech therapy and the Performing Arts service make hollow the aspiration to be UK City of Culture 2021.
Total council reserves, which rose from £41 million to £84 million over the last five years, have risen again, to £95 million! Surely, within that sum, there is scope for not proceeding with the £19 million cuts proposed for 2017/18 and instead temporarily funding those services from reserves whilst leading a serious campaign against the Tories for the restoration of essential local funding.
Cllr John Mutton and others have said that this is not a solution and you can only use reserves once. However what the Socialist Party have consistently argued is that the reserves should be used as a short term measure to plug the gap and keep key services going whilst at the same time building a massive campaign to demand more funds from central government.
We have explained before how this approach worked in cities like Liverpool where the equivalent of £60 million was won for the city from the claws of Margaret Thatcher. Would this be easy? No, absolutely not. The choice though is to fight, or to implement cuts that are going to hit the people of Coventry. Labour have a duty to stand up for the people of Coventry, not carry out this savage austerity.
A campaign should include:
- public meetings in every ward explaining the consequences of Tory cuts;
- a march and rally through the city, with national labour and trade union speakers, to unite the thousands who could be involved if a serious lead was given;
- a conference held in Coventry of Labour local authority representatives and trade unions from across the country, to broaden support and work out a common agenda of resistance;
- a national demonstration organised by Labour and the TUC early in the New Year to demand an end to cuts and restoration of the billions of pounds stolen from local towns and cities.
- The council trade unions should gear up to oppose these cuts and defend jobs and services, if necessary by taking industrial action
The Socialist Party will be campaigning against these attacks, and for a fighting programme to defend our jobs and vital services. If you agree and want to get involved, fill in the form below
We urge readers to join the campaign event organised by unions outside the Central Library on Saturday 3rd December at 12pm