The Audacity Of This Leaflet! Earlsdon Socialist Candidate Calls Out Labour Library Hypocrisy

Written by Adam Harmsworth, Socialist Party member and TUSC councillor candidate for Earlsdon Ward.

Thanks to Tory austerity passed on by the Labour council, Coventry’s libraries have faced closures, staff cuts, opening time cuts, funding cuts. Earlsdon library is one that had its funding cut, and Socialist Party members were part of the protests battling for it to remain open and fully funded.

Dozens of youth and library staff protest closures.

So. I’m quite surprised by the audacity of Labour’s Earlsdon leaflet, calling the library a ‘vital resource’ which has ‘done our community proud’.

I agree entirely, I just… wonder why a vital resource was subject to cuts and repeatedly had its future threatened over the past few years, by Labour?

The leaflet continues “Your local Labour team is focused on supporting the trustees”. Let’s remind Coventry Labour councillors of their record.

Labour’s Earlsdon leaflet, alleging their support for Earlsdon’s Library. Some audacity!

To quote from Coventry Telegraph directly: “In 2016 Coventry Council had given Earlsdon residents the option of running their own library voluntarily, or seeing it permanently shut” [read the article yourself here]

Then in July 2018 [yes less than three years ago!] the library nearly closed because the council demanded the former trustees cough up to lease the building back from the council! Even when a new group of volunteers got an agreement to keep things going, the article points out the severe lack of staffing and limited opening hours.

Sarah Smith, co-founder & full-time campaigner for Save Coventry Libraries, is TUSC candidate for Woodlands Ward for the 3rd time and has said the following:

“In January 2015, Coventry city council announced they were going to close every Library in Coventry.

Soon after this save Coventry Libraries campaign was formed by Sarah Smith, Nicki Downes & Jane Nellist. Since 2015, Save Coventry Libraries has been campaigning to save Libraries in Coventry. Unfortunately, the mobile service was scrapped. Arena Park Library was closed Earlsdon, Finham & Cheylesmore Libraries have been handed over to volunteers.

When Earlsdon library was handed over to volunteers, it was closed continually for about a year, when it did open it was only open a few hours on a weekday, also lacked stock. The government nor local Council have done research into the impact or sustainability of Libraries run by volunteers/ community groups. As a Campaigner I have conducted my own research & found the average lifespan of a volunteer/community group led Libraries are around 18 months.

Of course some break the model but almost all are closed for long periods, lack stock & have safeguarding concerns for example the volunteers having to work alone & have to wear a rape alarm. Save Coventry Libraries will campaign not only save Libraries but its Librarians.”

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The 2016 protest in front of Earlsdon Library when its future was threatened.

Its bare-faced hypocrisy from the council.

Lets put it simply – Coventry Labour council doesn’t really care about Earlsdon library. Or any of the libraries they’ve slashed funding to while keeping tens of millions of pounds in reserves and doing nothing to oppose the cuts from central government.

That’s exactly why anti-cuts campaigners are standing in the May council election under the TUSC banner.

There might not be any major cuts this year, but the council refuses to reverse the damage that has been done. And won’t do anything to prevent more cuts.

We don’t need empty platitudes and already-broken promises for our public services, we need political action to push back the decade of cruel austerity.

As our election leaflet says:

This election is a chance to elect councillors who’ll take the fight to the Tories and bosses.

Falsely, Labour councils pretend they have no choice but to make cuts demanded by government.

Unlike Tory-lite Labour councillors, socialist councillors will resist austerity rather than pass on cuts.

We’d be a voice for local people against austerity, greedy landlords, privatisation and closures.

If councils put up a fight, setting no cuts budgets, they could force yet another Tory U-turn and win the funding our communities desperately need.

Working people need a voice, a party of our own. The Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) set up to enable trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists to stand together against the pro-austerity establishment parties. It is a beginning – a step towards the kind of party we need to deliver a socialist alternative to austerity.

Four Thousand Say Scrap Parking Charges At Walsgrave Hospital!

Recently our campaign to scrap the parking charges at UHCW reached the incredible milestone of 4000 signatures!

For years we have been running stalls across Coventry with our petition, rallying ordinary people in Coventry of whom the vast, vast majority agree that parking at the hospital should be free.

And why shouldn’t it be? The point of the NHS is that it is free at point of use! Hundreds of billions of pounds goes into an incredible health service, and then we’re asked to pay up-front if we need to drive to hospital? With millions in poverty and counting pennies, many have to walk long distances, cut the time they spend with loved ones, or even avoid going to hospital at all because of the up-front costs. And that isn’t speculation; we know this is fact from the experiences we have heard directly from workers and residents in Coventry on our campaigning stalls.

In Wales and most of Scotland you wouldn’t have these horrendous and even heart-breaking situations. Because Wales scrapped its parking charges in 2018, and Scotland in 2008 with the exception of their PFI hospitals!

And there is precisely the problem.

The Private Finance Initiative gives a private company the contract to run the car park, and pretty much gives them control over the charges. So of course the private company wants to make however much it can, no matter how many families it keeps apart, how many personal budgets it breaks, how many it keep away from seeking treatment, and how many NHS staff -our heroes- are forced to look for another job so they can stop going to the foodbank!

And at Walsgrave the profits are astronomical.

Coventry Telegraph reported that the car parks across Cov and Warwickshire hospitals cost about £1m to run – but they make £8m from the charges! Every time you pay £8 for parking, £7 goes right into the pocket of a company. As many have said while signing on our stalls, it is disgusting!

That’s why our petition not only calls for the parking charges to be scrapped, but also for the car park to be taken off the private company that runs it for profit and put back into public ownership. The problem isn’t that one particular company runs the car park badly; the whole profit motive that drives the ruthless capitalist machine means that ANY private firm will rip off ordinary people to make as much money as possible. They aren’t accountable to us, only to their bosses and shareholders.

Which is why across the country, PFI deals are VERY expensive. LocalGov says “in January [2018] the National Audit Office reported that there were currently more than 700 PFI and PF2 deals with a capital value of around £60bn and annual charges amounting to £10.3bn in 2016-17. Even if no new deals are entered into, the NAO said, future charges which continue until the 2040s amount to £199bn.”

The PFI deal for UHCW itself is an atrocity. To quote Coventry Telegraph in 2019, “Despite the initial investments for Coventry’s NHS Trust being worth only £379 million, the trust will have paid back an estimated £3.7billion by the time the contracts are up – almost ten times the initial money.” The annual costs mean that an EIGHTH of UHCW’s entire budget goes to private profiteers who made their investment back years ago!

The Walsgrave Car Park PFI alone is harming so many people. That’s why in July last year we pledged to redouble our efforts, and now with over 4000 signatures we are going to keep up that fight!

Help us build that fight – join the socialists or find out more!