‘Connecting Communities’ Stop the latest cuts from Coventry Council

‘Connecting Communities’ Stop the latest cuts from Coventry Council

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Trade unions campaigning against ‘Connecting Communities’

Saturday saw trade unionists and anti-cuts groups out in the city centre campaigning against the latest round of cuts (under the misnamed title of ‘Connecting Communities’) from Coventry City Council. Hundreds of leaflets were distributed and petitions signed against the closure of libraries, children’s and youth centres.

We publish below the text of a leaflet distributed by the Socialist Party. If you agree, get in touch using the form at the bottom!


‘Connecting Communities’ Stop the latest cuts from the City Council

Councillors should fight austerity – not implement it

Coventry City Council is ‘consulting’ on proposals that will have a devastating impact on Coventry people, and change the nature of vital public services including public libraries, youth work and nursery provision, children’s and youth centres.

The Council wants to get rid of paid staff in the libraries and replace them with volunteers who will work for free. Doesn’t this sound a bit like the ‘Big Society’ of David Cameron and the Tories. Unfortunately it is being introduced by a Labour council here in Coventry.

Last year the council ‘consulted’ over plans to cut £1.2m from libraries and play centres. Despite dozens of meetings the Council largely ignored the opposition and went ahead with closing play centres on Eagle Street and Edgewick, cutting spending on library books and DVDs, and reducing library staff and opening hours. Now they’re coming back for more! 

Right-wing Labour want 3x as much in cuts to libraries, nurseries, youth clubs and community centres next year – £3.8m!

And to rub salt into the wound, whilst the council is again organising meetings to ‘listen to people’s views’, at the very same time it had set up a fund, over £1/2m, to give grants to those who want to take over services under threat.

Jeremy Corbyn has just been re-elected as Labour leader on an anti-austerity platform. However Labour councils like here in Coventry, or in Durham and Derby where they are attacking low paid education workers, are undermining his anti-austerity message.

It’s true the Tories have slashed the amount of money provided to our city. Their only concern is to protest the bankers and the 1%. However Labour locally could be opposing these cuts. For example:

  • Use the reserves to hold off the cuts. The Council has increased its reserves from £40m in 2010 to £84m today. Use some of this money to buy time to build a massive campaign of unions, local communities and service users to demand more money from central government.
  • Councillors should look to link up with other local authorities including calling a conference of councillors and unions from local government to build a massive national campaign to restore funding to our councils.

Unfortunately our Council has done neither of these. Not one Labour Councillor has voted against any of the proposed cuts packages. We need councillors that will fight these cuts and stand up for our communities. At the same time we need build a movement that can challenge capitalist austerity and lead a fight for a socialist system which can guarantee our public services and put the interests of working class people before private profit.

Agree? Get in touch! Fill in the form below

UPDATED WITH NEW LOCATION -Defend our communities – protest on Saturday 8th October

Defend our communities – protest on Saturday 8th October

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Outside the Council House on a previous protest against cuts

Trade unions and campaigners against the slashing of key services in Coventry have called a protest in the city centre against Council plans to close libraries, cut youth worker jobs, nursery provision and much more. The cuts programme, under the misleading banner of ‘Connecting Communities’ will hit ordinary people across the city and the services we all rely on.

Details of protest

Saturday 8th October, 12pm outside Central Library

Libraries campaigners hand in petition

Libraries campaigners hand in petition

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Campaigners just before handing the petition in to Coventry City Council

Campaigners from Save Coventry Libraries have today handed in a petition signed by nearly 2000 people against the plans by Coventry City Council to reduce and close library services around the city and replace fully trained paid staff with volunteers.

Campaign organiser Sarah Smith of Save Coventry Libraries handed over the 1,886 strong petition, with another 456 having signed online. This was just the first batch of signatures, with further protests and petitions planned against not only the library cuts, but also other parts of the Connecting Communities programme that will see massive attacks on children’s and youth services throughout the city.

We repeat what we have stated many times before – the Council do have a choice. They should not be passing on the Tory cuts to the people of Coventry. Labour Councillors should be organising a fightback against central government, linking up with other Labour Councils to say ‘enough is enough’, and demanding more resources for the services we need.

Coventry Socialist Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) look forward to helping to build the anti cuts campaigns in Coventry.

Lobby the Council Cabinet on Tuesday!

Lobby the Council Cabinet on Tuesday!

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City of Culture – or City of Cuts?

Coventry City Council’s Cabinet will meet on Tuesday 30th August to approve the beginning of the consultation that will see further cuts and closures to the tune of £4 million to libraries, the youth service and children’s centres.

Under the programme called “Connecting Communities” the plans from the Labour Council will further reduce vital public services in our city hitting ordinary people the hardest. Read this report for what we think the Council should be doing instead of passing on the Tory cuts to the people of Coventry.

The campaign group Save Coventry Libraries have called a lobby of the Cabinet meeting. The lobby will begin at 1pm, outside the Council House, Earl Street.

Coventry Socialists campaign against library closures

Coventry Socialists campaign against library closures

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Campaigning in the City Centre

Members of Coventry Socialist Party were campaigning against library closures over the weekend, with a campaign stall in the City Centre and supporting the Save Coventry Libraries campaign at Arena Park Library.

Over 800 people signed the petition over the day, showing how strongly people object to the councils plan to close libraries across Coventry. Some libraries are threatened with closure altogether while some will be closed unless volunteers come forward to run them. Many staff will lose their jobs.

Arena Park is a well used library, but is scheduled to close on August 27th. While campaigning there on Saturday we found that many service users were not aware that it was closing and that there is no alternative provision.

More than 1000 people have signed the petition in total – Coventry Council should listen and not close libraries!

Save Coventry Libraries campaigner Sarah Smith (left) collecting signatures

70 people join lobby of Coventry Council against library closures

70 people join lobby of Coventry Council against library closures

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Lobbying the council – save our libraries!

Around 70 people braved the rain yesterday and joined a lobby of Coventry Labour Council organised by Save Coventry Libraries.

A number of councillors passed the demo and spoke to protesters saying that while they appreciate that libraries are a crucial service, they have no choice but to make cuts and close libraries. Let’s be clear, they do have a choice – the council could use the £84million+ that they have in reserves to fund services for a year, while building a campaign to demand the money back from central Government.

It is unfortunate but not surprising that most of the Labour councillors who voted to close these libraries are opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. It is a sad state of affairs when they spend more time attacking socialists on Twitter than they do defending the jobs and services of people in Coventry!

Save Coventry Libraries is encouraging people to write to their local councillors and MPs and tell them what your libraries mean to you, and that libraries are a necessity and a basic human right, not a luxury.

The campaign has three upcoming events – “Love Willenhall Library day” on Monday July 25th at 1pm, “Love Arena Park Library day” on Saturday July 30th at 12 noon, and a further lobby of Coventry Council on September 6th at 1pm.

Academies and Free Schools cause chaos in Coventry – local Academy to close

Academies and Free Schools cause chaos in Coventry – local Academy to close

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Save our School banner

We are pleased to carry the article below by Jane Nellist, joint secretary of Coventry National Union of Teachers (NUT) and a member of the national executive of the NUT. She writes in a personal capacity.


Coventry is witnessing the catastrophic consequences of the government’s programme of Academies and Free Schools. This comes at a time when the government is planning for the academisation of all schools!

The day before Year 6 children learnt which secondary school they were to be allocated, it was announced that, in effect, Woodlands Academy would be closing. The ‘consultation’ paper sent to all parents is for the  neighbouring Tile Hill Wood Academy, a girl’s school, to be renamed and designated a co-ed Academy, opening in September 2017, taking the boys from Woodlands in stages, starting with the Y7 in September.

There has been a total destabilisation of schools in the West area of the city with the opening of a Free School, Finham 2 by one of the more successful Academies which is now over-subscribed.   Even the DfE’s own impact assessment identified a detrimental impact on all three secondary schools in the area, all of which are Academies.

The opening of a girls Muslim Free School in the city and a Sikh Free School has also contributed to the fall in numbers across the city for other schools.

The introduction of competition and surplus places is not the way to raise standards.  Only a democratically accountable and planned education system can do this. Strong, well-resourced Local Authorities, working with schools, sharing good practice and supporting each other is a model that we know works.

It’s ironic that we are facing these problems in Coventry for two reasons.  Firstly, Woodlands School was built in 1954 and was one of the original Comprehensive schools built in this country.  A new future for education after the second world war, now a victim of the Tory vision of education!

The second reason is that in 2011, Coventry NUT led a fight, including strike action, to save both Woodlands and Tile Hill from being turned into Academies.

We warned of the problems that would come if they went ahead.  Governors claimed they would get new school buildings and that there would be more funding- neither of which has materialised!  Instead, Woodlands Governors have failed miserably, running up huge debts and the school is in ‘Requires Improvement’.  The school buildings are shoddy and have not benefitted from re-building as they were promised under the ‘Building Schools for the Future’ programme which was shelved by this government.

We are now left with a school closure, our members at risk of losing jobs, pupils who are angry about the way they are being treated and communities feeling let down. In a few years’ time, forecasts show we will be desperate for school places!

You may ask where the DfE is in all of this.  They appear to have abdicated their responsibility completely. The Regional Schools Commissioner, Pank Patel, has hardly instilled any confidence in the process, and is now leaving his role to go back to headship in an Academy! Unions have written to ask for an urgent meeting but have heard nothing.  When they showed up at consultation meetings they failed to answer any questions at all.

We cannot even get simple written answers to questions about redundancy payments for staff.

As the consultation ran over the local elections, both Tories and Labour squabbled over who was to blame. Interestingly, at least one councillor was on the governing body and part of the finance committee– why did they not see the financial crisis coming? The consequences of this delayed any decisions, a re-run of the consultation which has meant that staff, parents and most importantly, pupils were all left in limbo.

As we break up for half term, the final decision has been made, the school will close in September 2017. Tile Hill Wood Academy will be re-named and will become co-ed.

For Woodlands to have been saved it needed a huge investment in resources to pay off the debt and to enhance the school’s buildings.  More importantly, it needed more pupils.

What has been experienced in Coventry isn’t progress- it’s anarchy and it serves no-one well.  Parents are understandably very angry and concerned for their child’s education.

As teachers, we want good local schools that serve our communities.  We have to continue the battle to fight this crazy system and build for a return to the vision of a truly Comprehensive education based on co-operation rather than competition and democratic accountability rather than the anarchy of the market place.

The big question is-will it happen again?  Well of course it will- we are entering into the world of the market for our schools.  That’s why we have to fight against academisation.  We warned about the risks back in 2008 when the first Academy, Grace Academy, replaced Woodway School. The evidence is clear- academisation does not produce better schools.

We shall continue to support our members and the communities that our schools serve.  The fight against the government’s plans for more acdademisation needs to be stepped up.  Lessons need to be learned and we need to galvanise our resolve. Our education system is not for sale and it’s not for giving away!

 

Coventry Socialists hit the streets campaigning against the cuts and in support of junior doctors

Coventry Socialists hit the streets campaigning against the cuts and in support of junior doctors

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Sarah Smith campaigning at Jardine Crescent, Tile Hill

Coventry Socialist Party, part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), were out campaigning across Coventry today, two days after the local elections.

We are continuing to build the opposition to austerity, including cuts to local services such as our libraries and play centres. At the same time, it is important to build support for workers taking action like the junior doctors. The thousands of leaflets that we distributed during the election all called for support for the junior doctors in their dispute as part of the battle to defend our NHS

Our candidate in Woodlands ward, Sarah Smith, met residents who had voted for her as the TUSC candidate, thanking them for their support.

Sarah said

I would like to say ‘thank you’ to the to the 160 voters who voted for me this year; on election day we were out on a campaign stall in Woodlands ward for 4 hours, but my campaigning is not just during election time; it is day in and day out, week in and week out, year in and year out to build the campaigns  to save our services and fight to stop the cuts.

For example this was shown in my 2,208 signature petition to Save Tile Hill library, a combined petition to save Jardine Youth Centre and Sure Start centre, and being part of the Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax team who stopped two bedroom tax evictions last year.

This year I joined the protest to save Woodlands school; the Labour candidate claimed in her election leaflet she was campaigning to save it however many Labour councillors have supported schools becoming academies. This shows that we need real opposition to the Tories and as part of TUSC I will be working to increase this opposition.

Want to get involved with our campaigns or join the Socialists? Fill in the form below and we will be in touch!

Thank you for voting TUSC

Thank you for voting for TUSC!

TUSC

TUSC

Coventry Socialist Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition would like to thank everyone who supported us in the local elections on Thursday. We won 3108 votes across the city. We would also like to thank all party members and supporters who campaigned for us, and the many people who helped us by leafleting, nominating our candidates, putting up posters, donating towards our election costs and much more.

There will be more detailed analysis to come, however what is clear is that we have increased our city wide vote by 25 per cent from the last set of comparable local elections in 2014 (2015 local elections were combined with the general election), where we received 2471 votes in Coventry.

We will post more detailed analysis in the coming days and weeks of the both the situation in Coventry and nationwide. To discuss the outcome of the elections and how we build the fight against austerity we have a public meeting on Thursday 12th May, 7.30pm, Methodist Central Hall, City Centre. The Facebook event is here

Are you one of the 3108 Socialist voters? If so we urge you to consider strengthening the anti-austerity and socialist voice by joining the Socialist Party. Please fill in the form below, and we will be in touch!

Remember the dead, fight for the living!

Remember the dead, fight for the living!

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International Workers’ Memorial Day in Coventry

Trade unionists gathered in Coventry today (Thursday) to mark International Workers’ Memorial Day, which is held to ‘Remember the dead, and fight for the living.’

Representatives from several unions and organisations including Coventry TUC, UNISON, British Pensioners and Trade Union Action Association, UCATT, NUT and UNITE addressed the gathering. The deputy lord mayor of Coventry also spoke and attended.

No worker should die or be put in harms way at work. Workplace stress is on the increase which is a major problem as work becomes more pressurised. Strong trade union organisation in the workplace is absolutely critical to enforce health and safety legislation. At the same time, we need to fight for a society that puts people, before profit.

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Listening to the speeches