Coventry Council “threatens closure” of volunteer-run Earlsdon Library

Coventry Council “threatens closure” of volunteer-run Earlsdon Library

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Protesters outside Earlsdon Library

We are pleased to publish the below article by Sarah Smith, a campaigner from Save Coventry Libraries.

Coventry has been given the title of ‘City of Culture’ – but how will the closure of libraries square with this image? Now it seems the time is up for Earlsdon Library, just seven months after being handed over to the volunteers who run it in place of paid workers.

A volunteer has just been notified that Earlsdon Library Friends can “no longer work in partnership with the Council to keep the library open”. Since September 2017, Earlsdon, Finham, and Cheylesmore libraries have all been run by volunteers.

The average lifespan of a volunteer led library is around 18 months, with a handful of exceptions. The library at Arena Park has already been closed, and the possible closure of Earlsdon library is a disgrace!

Labour locally say they are fighting austerity, but the example of Earlsdon library shows that passing on Tory cuts is not combating austerity, it is enforcing it.

Coventry Socialist Party, along with campaign group Save Coventry Libraries, maintain that the Labour council should bring back all libraries under Local Authority control, with paid and fully trained staff.

If you live in Henley, Radford, St Michaels, Lower Stoke or Sherbourne wards, please consider voting for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition on May 3rd, and getting involved in the fight against the cuts.

Coventry councillors vote to hike Council Tax by nearly 5%

Coventry councillors vote to hike Council Tax by nearly 5%

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Marching against cuts in Coventry

Labour controlled Coventry City Council has voted yet again to increase Council Tax – this time by 4.9% – meaning we will pay more for less.

Tory cuts from central government have hit cities like Coventry, since 2010 the money coming to Coventry has decreased by £107million. At the same time because the Council has not fought back, this has only encouraged the Tories to cut even more. Not a single Labour (or Conservative) councillor voted against the rise in council tax today.

Rather than fight back against the government, the Council has slashed thousands of jobs, closed libraries, introduced charges for children’s disability transport and brought in volunteers to do jobs previously done by paid employees.

Since 2010, whilst having their money cut the Council has increased their reserves from £45 million to over £94 million.

Dave Nellist of the Socialist Party and the national chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) has consistently put forward that the Council should use this money to halt cuts in services, link up with other Labour councils and campaign to win the money from central government. The government is weak. A concerted effort could win. The alternative to this is passing on Tory misery to Coventry people. It is fantastic that as leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn has been putting forward anti-austerity policies – this must also extend to ending Council austerity here in Coventry.

Campaigners lobby Coventry council against cuts to disability transport

Campaigners lobby Coventry council against cuts to disability transport

Members of Coventry Socialist Party were supporting parents on Tuesday, 16th January, who lobbied Coventry Council for three hours against charges of up to £600 for school transport for children with special educational needs.

John Boadle and Isla Windsor explain: “The Council has previously provided free transport to school or college for severely disabled children. Now they are charging parents for each child 16 or over. The amount is £600 a year, or £300 if the family is on means-tested benefits. Almost 1000 children use the school transport, with those aged 16 and over facing the charges immediately, though as each child gets older their families will face the same problem.“

“The impact on families is severe – they are being asked for money they haven’t got.  Parents of children with severe disabilities have their whole lives dominated by that situation. Day and night, for the rest of their lives. And then they worry what will happen to their children when they are gone. If Coventry Labour council can’t provide help for people like that then what are they playing at?“

“There was a lot of public sympathy for the parents. And a lot of determination on the parents’ part. You can see that through the sharp irony of the slogan on their banner: Coventry, City of Cruelty!”

The Tories and UKIP may join protests such as these, but they should remember that they support the austerity that is behind these cuts.

Former Socialist Party councillor, Dave Nellist, who also attended the lobby, said: “If Labour’s national anti-austerity stance is to mean anything, then local councils such as Coventry should refuse to make these cuts.  Instead, they should be using money from reserves whilst building a fight against the Tory government for the restoration of the necessary funds for essential services.”

“Labour councillors ought to grow a backbone and stand up to the Tories” – Dave Nellist

“Labour councillors ought to grow a backbone and stand up to the Tories” – Dave Nellist

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Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

We are pleased to share the below letter published by the Coventry Telegraph this week by Dave Nellist, former Militant Labour MP and Socialist Party councillor in Coventry. This week a petition organised by young service users will be presented to the council against youth club closures as part of an ongoing campaign against the “Connecting Communities” scheme.
“Cuts that Coventry Council are planning will radically worsen public services in our city, but in fact are entirely unnecessary.
Saying that governments of both hues over the last 10 years have originated the cuts is not enough.  Local councils do have alternatives to reducing proper library provision, to cutting youth clubs and funding for children’s centres, to reducing bin collections.
Coventry Council has increased its reserves from £41m six years ago to £95m today.  That’s five times the planned cuts for the next financial year!  The Council has lent millions of pounds to private businesses (for example to a hotel and for student accomodation) – that money should be being used to defend the city’s public services that everyone in the city relies on.
Labour council leaders held a national meeting on 17th February at Warwick University.  They could have drawn up a coordinated plan of resistance to pressurise the government to  restore money stolen from our towns and cities.
Unfortunately, it seems that if council leaders have a strategy it’s limited to waiting for the next general election in 2020 for a change of direction.  By then, 70% of council services will be gone, and thousands of local jobs will no longer be available for school leavers.
And anyway, on present form, with Labour councillors cutting service after service, there’s little incentive for people to vote Labour locally, and no guarantee of a general election victory in three years time.
Bluntly, Labour councillors ought to grow a backbone and stand up to the Tories, whilst there are still public services left to defend.”

Thousands sign petitions against library and youth service closures

Thousands sign petitions against library and youth service closures

Campaigners ourside the Council house hand in petitions of over 2800 signatures

On Monday anti-cuts campaigners handed in petitions with over 2800 signatures against library and youth service closures.

Sarah Smith from Save Coventry Libraries said “This is a further sign of the massive opposition throughout Coventry to the council’s cuts agenda.”

Almost 800 people signed the “Stop Youth Club Closures” petition initiated by Bailey Evatt, one of the service users.

Bailey Evatt with Dave Nellist

Coventry Council say they have to make cuts, but they don’t – they could use the £95million+ that they have in reserves to fund services to hold the line and buy time to build a campaign to get back the money that the Government has stolen from the people of Coventry.

Campaigners holding a poster created by youth club users

Coventry trade union leader speaks out against library closures

Coventry trade union leader speaks out against library closures

Jane Nellist (second from left) on a previous demo in defence of the NHS

Jane Nellist (second from left) on a previous demo in defence of the NHS

The following letter from Jane Nellist was carried in a recent issue of the Coventry Telegraph. Jane is a leading member of the National Union of Teachers, secretary of Coventry TUC and member of the Socialist Party. Jane outlines in this letter why library closures should be opposed, and why we must all oppose the idea that they are run on a charity shop basis as is proposed by the Council.

‘As a representative of the National Union of Teachers in Coventry, representing over 1,800 teachers, we are extremely concerned with the city council’s intention to reduce dramatically the number of public libraries in Coventry.

We believe that libraries are uniquely placed to help foster engagement in reading. They offer free access to learning and a ‘safe’ space for children and young people to study and access resources.

They can help students to develop their confidence and motivation, seeing themselves as readers outside school and, therefore, read more widely and independently. They will offer a far wider range of reading materials than the school can offer, inspiring students to extend their reading tastes.

Librarians are key to this service. The fact that councillors are even suggesting that we can run libraries on a ‘charity shop’ model with volunteers is an insult to our library service.

Councillor Kershaw rightfully points to them being a ‘golden thread running throughout our lives’ (Telegraph, Jan 16). These cuts, supported by both political parties, will turn that 24 carat gold to fool’s gold if they succeed with this plan.

Libraries are a treasure of information and imagination and we must all join together to fight to keep all our libraries as well as oppose all cuts. Let’s unite to defend the services that matter to us and not be divided by the canker of austerity.

Jane Nellist,

​Joint secretary and national executive member,

Coventry NUT’

Agree with Jane?

Then join the demonstration against cuts including the closure of the libraries

Saturday 21st February, assemble 12pm, outside Coventry Transport Museum. Facebook event page here

Two dates for your diary – major protest against the cuts and TUSC election launch!

Two dates for your diary – major protest against the cuts and TUSC election launch!

TUSC election launch

TUSC election launch

Anti austerity campaigners in Coventry are working hard to build for two key events taking place in the city next month. See the bottom of this article for details of both. The first is a major demonstration called by Coventry TUC, Coventry against the Cuts and local trade unions against the proposed cuts by Coventry City Council which will see the closure of vital local services such as community centres, local libraries and children’s centres. This takes place on the Saturday before Councillors vote on the cuts budget – we need to show our opposition. Make sure you are there and bring as many people as possible with you!

Shortly after this demonstration the Socialist Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition will be holding the launch event for our election campaign. Speakers will include Dave Nellist, local trade unionists and campaigners. TUSC will be the only socialist and anti-austerity alternative in these elections – come to our launch to find out how you can get involved.

Coventry against the Cuts demonstration

Saturday 21st February, 12pm. Assembly point to be confirmed. For Facebook event page click here. If you want leaflets to help build for this event contact the campaign on coventryagainstthecuts@gmail.com

TUSC election launch meeting

Wednesday 25th February, 7.30pm. Methodist Hall, Coventry City Centre, CV1 2HA. For Facebook event page click here. To get more information about the campaign call or text 07530 429441