New Labour right-winger imposed in Sherbourne – vote for an anti-austerity candidate

New Labour right-winger imposed in Sherbourne – vote for an anti-austerity candidate

Jim Hensman with Dave Nellist

Jim Hensman with Dave Nellist

Across Coventry, the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will be standing candidates to put forward the anti-cuts alternative in the local elections on Thursday 5th May.

This includes Sherbourne where we will be standing Jim Hensman. There has been considerable controversy over the imposition of Blairite Lynnette Kelly as the Labour candidate, against the wishes of the members of Sherbourne ward Labour Party. In her election leaflet she says “the Labour Council will continue to work closely with big businesses”. For us this highlights the priorities of leading figures in Coventry Labour Party – they see this as more important than opposing and fighting Tory cuts.

We need Councillors who will actually stand up against the cuts, not just implement them.

TUSC does not want to stand against Labour and will support any Labour candidate that has opposed the cuts or pledges to do so.

As Jeremy Corbyn has said, “Austerity is a political choice, not an economic necessity”.

Unfortunately Blairite Labour councillors nationally have been making the political choice for austerity and expelling Labour councillors who oppose the cuts.

Former councillors like these, together with trade union activists and campaigners from groups like the one fighting the closure of the last two play centres in Coventry, make up the candidates standing for TUSC. Saving the play centres would only cost £100,000. Yet Coventry Labour Council increased their reserves this year by £3 million. The cuts are definitely a political choice – vote TUSC and fight austerity!

The following are extracts from one of our election communications in Sherbourne.

Jim Hensman, our TUSC candidate has lived in the ward for over 40 years


A message to Labour voters in Sherbourne

The Labour candidate is Lynnette Kelly. She was a councillor in Henley ward until 2015 before stepping down in a failed attempt to become a MP in Warwick and Leamington at the last general election.

The local press have reported how she has been imposed on Sherbourne Labour Party by the regional Party machine, against the wishes of the members. The local Labour Party Secretary who opposed her appointment was also suspended without being given any reason. So much for democracy!

When Lynnette was a councillor she voted for cuts, along with the rest of the Labour group. She is a supporter of the Blairite Progress faction which seeks to undermine Jeremy Corbyn. Is this the sort of representative Sherbourne needs? We want Labour to stand up and vote against the cuts in the Council chamber. Not just act like Tories.

Our candidate, Jim Hensman has lived in the ward for over 40 years.  He has a long history of standing up for ordinary people, has been a trade unionist all of his life and was expelled from Labour for standing up for his Socialist views and being a supporter of Dave Nellist.

Unlike the establishment parties, Jim would be a voice on the Council for ordinary people and would oppose and vote against any more cuts to our local services.

Jim says

“The establishment have been shaken to the core by the support for Corbyn and now the Panama tax scandal. The Tories are weak and divided on every issue, and with the news that David Cameron had his nose in the Panama tax trough…We say he has to go!

But Coventry’s Labour Councillors spend more time attacking Corbyn than the Tories and carry on with further devastating cuts. TUSC councillors will fight to defend the jobs and services that we as ordinary people rely on. We need to build a city-wide campaign against the cuts to demand the return of money stolen by central government, whether it was Labour or Conservatives in power.”

The Tories are trying to rob Coventry, and the Labour Council are letting them!

Instead of fighting back, Labour in Coventry have made cuts that any Tory Council would be proud of. The Council have £84 million in reserves, this should be used to fund services and to buy time to build a campaign win back money for our city.

Despite the election of Jeremy Corbyn who is trying to oppose the Tories, your local Labour Council have voted to

  • Close libraries and want to replace staff with unpaid volunteers
  • Shut play centres
  • Make over 1,000 workers redundant over the next few years
  • Close public toilets across the city

Labour signed us up for George Osborne’s West Midlands Combined Authority – Ann Lucas and Co didn’t even want Coventry people to have a vote. Is that because they were afraid about what we would say?

If you would want to help the TUSC campaign in Sherbourne (for eg helping us leaflet, putting up a poster or donating), fill in the form below!

Coventry Socialists announce 2016 election campaign

Coventry Socialists announce 2016 election campaign

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TUSC activists rally against cuts

Election nominations are closed and we can now confirm that Socialist candidates will be standing in all 18 wards in Coventry for the local elections in May. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), backed by the RMT transport workers union, will be standing anti-cuts candidates across the country.

Before making the decision to stand, we wrote to every Labour candidate in Coventry and asked them to meet with us to discuss whether they would be willing to vote against cuts – cuts that will lead to the closure of libraries, public toilets, adult education centres and community centres. None of them would even agree to meet us. Ann Lucas and her colleagues have also signed up the city up to George Osborne’s West Midlands Combined Authority, without even allowing Coventry people a vote.

Our candidates include Dave Nellist in St Michaels, as well as leading trade unionists, young workers, students and community activists.

Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn, wants to fight austerity .We support Jeremy’s anti-austerity policies – it is regrettable that Coventry Labour Councillors have voted to implement the Tory cuts on our city with some Councillors more concerned with attacking Jeremy than fighting the Tories.

As we have done previously, the Socialist Party and TUSC will set out a programme to fight the cuts – including the use of some of the £84 million of reserves that the Council has. This could fund services and delay the cuts, buying time for the building of a mass city wide campaign involving unions, local communities and anti-cuts groups to win back the money stolen from our city by the Tories.

We will also make the case that the Panama Papers tax scandal shows that the money exists in our society for decent public services and housing for all – the problem is that it is in the hands of the 1 per cent at the top. It is austerity for us, tax evasion for the rich! That is why we need socialism.

Will you be voting for the Socialists? Can you help with our campaign by leafleting, putting up a poster or donating? If so, fill in the form below!

Coventry Labour council schools chief sets up academies firm

Coventry Labour council schools chief sets up academies firm

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Cllr David Kershaw

A Coventry Labour councillor has set up a business designed to take over schools and turn them into academies. Councillor David Kershaw, who is cabinet member for education, is heading a new academy company called the West Midlands Academy Trust.

Writing in the Coventry Observer, Les Reid revealed that the company was set up just last month by Cllr Kershaw and is believed “to be in line to win Tory government permission to take over five struggling schools in Birmingham. The five schools are understood to be those which make up the Perry Beeches Trust and are already Academies. The fact that these schools are struggling is a clear indictment of the government’s Academies programme.

Cllr Kershaw has done this at a time when Labour are campaigning against Tory plans to force schools to become academies, and have been distributing leaflets around Woodlands ward claiming local Labour council candidate Patricia Hetherton is “fully behind the campaign to save Woodlands Academy”. After the release of the Panama Papers implicating leading politicians in tax dodging, this is yet another example of hypocrisy.

Hetherton’s leaflet also claims that “[she] knew that the opening of Finham Park 2 would have an impact on student numbers in the area”. “Local” Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson also features on the leaflet, and last month he said the same to the Coventry Telegraph. However, while they say this now, Cllr Kershaw wrote to the Department for Education last year expressing support for Finham Park 2!

Cllr Kershaw has also been key in advocating and pushing through the council’s library closure plans, and the (currently shelved) plans to cut transport to schools for disabled children. As a former headteacher, it is shocking that he seems willing to make cuts that will clearly damage children’s education.

Other partners in the business include Alan East, a Labour candidate for Bablake ward in May. Locally this is yet another example of Labour saying one thing and doing another – how do Kershaw’s actions compare with the anti-austerity policies of Jeremy Corbyn?

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) are campaigning against the enforced academisation of all schools and will be balloted over strike action against funding cuts and threats to teacher’s contracts and pay and conditions. We give them our full support – concerted industrial action can stop these plans and bring this government down!

Protesters lobby Coventry council against cuts

Protesters lobby Coventry council against cuts

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Photo from Cov Telegraph

Protesters from trade unions, community groups and anti-cuts campaigners held a lobby of Coventry Council to protest against the budget passed yesterday.

UNISON Branch Secretary Sarah Feeney spoke and called on the council to use the £84million they have in reserves – a sum which they have increased by £3.5million in the last 12 months – to fund services and build a campaign against the cuts.

Dave Nellist spoke representing Coventry Against the Cuts and called on council workers to take action to defend their jobs – and their terms and conditions, which are also being threatened by the council – and echoed the call for the council to fight the cuts. “By the end of this Parliament 80p in every £1 of this city’s budget will have been robbed by the Tories in London, so that bankers can have the same Christmas bonuses this year as they did in the year they caused the financial crash.”

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Local Labour Cllr Pervez Akhtar then spoke and said that Labour councillors are “at pains” because of the cuts, but said they had no choice and they would not set an illegal budget. While it is welcome that Cllr Akhtar came and spoke – other councillors have not done so – he unfortunately misrepresented the position advocated by the groups assembled. We are not calling for an illegal budget to be set, we are calling for the council to pass a legal no-cuts budget by using the money they have in reserves. Of course Labour councillors do not want to make cuts – and we want to work with them to fight the Tories, rather than fighting them while they pass on Tory cuts.

These cuts will mean more job losses, play centres being closed, libraries opening hours reduced and council workers terms and conditions being threatened. We need to fight back.

 

Lobby Coventry Council against cuts

Lobby Coventry Council against cuts

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UNISON members marching against austerity

Coventry TUC has organised a protest outside the council house on Tuesday 23rd, when Coventry Council will set the budget for the next year. The planned budget includes proposals to close libraries and reduce their opening hours, close Edgwick and Eagle St play centres, close public toilets and cut another 1000 council jobs.

UNISON, the largest union on Coventry Council, is calling on the council to pass a legal no-cuts budget, using the £84million+ the council has in reserves to avoid making cuts and to build a campaign to win more money for local services.

The protest is outside the council house from 1pm on Tuesday 23rd February.

Ann Lucas told – cut cake, not libraries!

Ann Lucas told – cut cake, not libraries!

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Protesters highlighting Lucas’ record of cuts

Library campaigners protested against Cllr Ann Lucas at an event last week. Sarah Smith was one of them, and she wrote this report.

February 10th marked the 30th birthday of Central Library, and the guest of honour at the celebration was Cllr Ann Lucas – leader of Coventry City Council. She proudly cut a cake to celebrate – despite her leading the council that’s cutting our libraries!

All libraries are still threatened with closure, and under the current plans almost all libraries other than Central will be closing on a Wednesday and Sunday, and Central will be closing an hour earlier. Willenhall and Arena library are both being moved to cheaper buildings, 35 library jobs will be cut and the mobile library is being scrapped altogether.

We at Save Coventry Libraries went to the event to tell Ann Lucas to cut the cake but not the libraries. We had a peaceful protest to highlight the hypocrisy of Coventry City Council.We were thanked and supported by a number of people in the audience at the event – and we will carry on fighting for our libraries!

Ann Lucas – cut the cake, not our libraries!

Ann Lucas – cut the cake, not our libraries!

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Ann Lucas – pic from Coventry Telegraph website

Coventry’s brilliant Central Library has now been around for 30 years, and staff and service users will be celebrating its birthday on Wednesday 10th February with a number of events. It’s great that the library has been around for so long – but the future of libraries throughout Coventry is under threat, and one of the people behind the planned cuts will also be cutting the birthday cake.

Libraries campaigner Sarah Smith said “It’s ironic that Cllr Ann Lucas is a guest of honour at Central Library’s 30th birthday and cutting a cake, considering she leads the council that’s voted to cut our libraries. I will be there to represent Save Coventry Libraries, to tell Cllr Lucas that she can cut the cake but not our libraries!”

The next meeting of Save Coventry Libraries is on Monday February 15th, 6pm at Central Library. Join the Facebook page here