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.

Lower Stoke by election – Socialist Party statement

Lower Stoke by election – Socialist Party statement

Coventry Socialist Party has decided not to propose nomination of a TUSC candidate in the forthcoming Lower Stoke by-election.

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Dave Nellist with Lower Stoke Socialist Party campaigner Rob McArdle

Former Coventry councillor Dave Nellist, explained today:

“Socialists in Coventry remain resolutely opposed to the cuts the Labour Council are continuing to pass on.  Such as the £3 million cut to Council Tax support for the city’s poorest.

We now know that over 1400 council jobs have been cut in the last five years, and the council plans to cut 1000 more.  That’s 2,500 young people in Coventry denied the chance of a decent job.  And Councillor Damian Gannon, Cabinet Member for Finance, has said the authority is ‘looking at altering employment terms such as holiday and sickness pay’ of those who remain.

It’s no defence for Labour to say they are responding to national Tory cuts – locally, Labour has doubled its reserves in the last four years from £41m to £84m; it could use a proportion of that to delay cuts whilst launching a campaign to force the government to restore proper funding to the city.

These are the arguments we will continue to put.  But we are conscious that this is the first local by-election since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as the new leader of the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn says the Labour Party will be anti-austerity and we want to work with members of Labour, especially new members, who support that.

Unfortunately TUSC hasn’t yet had the opportunity to sit down with Jeremy to discuss what he can do to get Labour councillors, in Coventry and elsewhere, to refuse to implement Tory cuts.

Or to find out what he thinks council service users, trade unionists, and community campaigners should do in elections if all the likely candidates on the ballot paper are going to carry out the cuts.

So, on this occasion, the Socialist Party has agreed not to stand a candidate, so that there is no artificial obstacle to having that discussion with Jeremy and his supporters.

But time is short. Standing aside in a council by-election is one thing. But in May there will be over 2000 councillors up for election, including 18 seats in Coventry.

We want to have a serious discussion with those in Labour who are serious about fighting the cuts. But the Socialist Party is also clear that any politician who votes for cuts cannot expect to have a free run at the ballot box, no matter what party label they wear.”

 

Vote against austerity today – vote TUSC!

Vote against austerity today – vote TUSC!

Vote TUSC!

Vote TUSC!

Voters in Coventry and across the country can vote against austerity, cuts and capitalism today. The mainstream parties and UKIP all think that ordinary people should pay for the crisis that the bosses, the bankers and the super-rich caused. The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is the only party that’s 100% against austerity and pledges to vote against all cuts.

Vote for the socialist alternative – vote TUSC!

If you want to help the campaign in Coventry on election day, phone Lenny Shail on 07530429441.

Will you be voting for TUSC? let us know!

Packed room for Socialist election rally

Packed room for Socialist election rally

107 people packed in for the rally

107 people packed in for the rally

107 people packed into the Methodist Central Hall for the Coventry Socialists pre-election rally with Irish Socialist Party MP Ruth Coppinger last week.

Socialist activist and TUSC candidate for North Warwickshire, Eileen Hunter, opened the rally with some reflections on her campaign in the closest marginal seat in the country. John Boadle from Coventry Against the Bedroom Tax then spoke about the planned eviction of Archie Millar, a Coventry resident hit by the bedroom tax, that was prevented by socialists, TUSC candidates and neighbours. Archie was applauded for his strength in fighting back – community campaigners can win!

Irish TD Ruth Coppinger

Irish TD Ruth Coppinger

Ruth then spoke about the situation in Ireland, where there has been a mass movement against austerity, including huge demonstrations and non-payment of water charges. She also spoke about the campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum on same-sex marriage, and against the ban on abortion. Dave Nellist spoke to close the rally, and addressed a number of issues about cuts and austerity. He pointed out that the £70billion+ in bonuses given out by banks since the financial crisis is equivalent to the cuts made to the public sector, and that the super-rich have increased their wealth in that time – “there’s enough wealth in this country, it’s just in the wrong hands!”

Dave Nellist

Dave Nellist

The rally showed the potential to build the anti austerity socialist alternative in Coventry, something we will continue to do after the election. The election is on Thursday, but Socialists won’t stop campaigning on Friday morning – we’ll keep fighting all year round. Want to help TUSC? Fill in the form below and get involved!

“No council cuts are necessary” – Dave Nellist

“No council cuts are necessary” – Dave Nellist 

Dave speaking at Coventry's May Day rally

Dave speaking at Coventry’s May Day rally

This letter about council cuts from former Labour MP and TUSC national chair Dave Nellist was printed in yesterday’s Coventry Telegraph. Read this article if you want more background on the council’s planned cuts and what the Socialist Party would do differently.

“There’s been little coverage, so far, of the 18 contests for city council seats also taking place on May 7. So allow me raise one issue that I think could define those elections.

On April 22 the Telegraph carried the welcome story of a stay of execution for a City Council jobs service which helps some of the most vulnerable people in the city, at least until the end of the year.

This follows earlier decisions to delay for consultation the imminent closure of libraries, and cuts to disabled children’s transport. None of those decisions will now be taken before the election.

But in fact none of those decisions need to be taken at all.

None of the planned cuts to libraries, children’s and family centres, community centres, adult education centres, lollipop men and women, street cleaners and park maintenance are necessary.

Because when the City Council made its decision in February to set a budget including £15 million worth of cuts to the services mentioned above (and another thousand secure jobs lost to young people in the city) it did so on the money it knew at that time it had as income.

But since then we have learned that Wasps RFC is going to re-pay this summer the balance of the £14.4 million council loan, given to the Ricoh management company which Wasps now own. In other words the City Council will have for this year’s budget £14 million more than 3 months ago it thought it would have.

So here’s a question we could ask to every aspiring councillor in the last few days of the campaign: do you agree that the repayment of that £14 million Ricoh loan should be used to save our libraries, lollipop men and women, disabled children’s transport, jobs service for the most vulnerable and the other services under threat?

Yours sincerely,

Dave Nellist
Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition”

Agree with Dave? Want to fight the council cuts? Fill in the form below to get involved!

Dave Nellist on the artist taxi driver

Dave Nellist, National chair of the the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and TUSC candidate for Coventry North West in the general election on May 7th, recently took time out for a 3-part interview with the highly acclaimed ‘Artist Taxi Driver’ .

Agree with Dave?

get in touch on 0753 0429 441

or come along to the Coventry TUSC pre-election rally ….

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Did you see the #TUSC election broadcast?

Did you see the #TUSC election broadcast?

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) election broadcast with Dave Nellist was on TV tonight (Friday) – did you see it? You can watch it online here!

If you want to get involved in Coventry, fill in the form below – and come to our election launch rally with Irish MP Ruth Coppinger on April 30th!

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Why I’m standing for TUSC in Bablake

 Why I’m standing for TUSC in Bablake

Dan asks a Labour cllr to vote against the cuts

Dan asks a Labour cllr to vote against the cuts

A number of our election candidates are writing short articles to explain why they’re standing for TUSC. Our candidate in Bablake, Dan Crowter, wrote this. Please read and share!

When Labour councillor David Kershaw announced the council’s plans to close almost all Coventry libraries, adult education services, children’s centres and more, I was stunned. How can a former head teacher, who was even a member of the National Union of Teachers, justify these cuts? They will damage children’s lives, their education and their future.

Not only that, how can he even suggest cutting transport for disabled children when he’s a governor at a special needs school, Alice Stevens (now Riverbank Academy)? For anyone to cut that essential service would be disgusting, but as a governor at a special needs school Cllr Kershaw should know and understand its importance even more.

As a young parent, and carer for someone with special needs, I know the value of these services first hand – and unlike Cllr Kershaw, I would never vote to cut them. I’d fight tooth and nail to preserve them, along with all the other services that the people of Coventry use and rely on.

Being let down by Labour councillors is nothing new, but a former teacher knowingly cutting services that will seriously affect children is shocking. That’s one of the reasons I’m standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in Bablake, against Cllr Kershaw. I think the people of Coventry deserve better than councillors who pass on the cuts “with heavy hearts” – we need representatives who’ll actually stand up and fight them!

Do you want to get involved in the Socialist election campaign? Fill in the form below!

#CovBudget2015 – what happened, and what should have happened

#CovBudget2015 – what happened, and what should have happened

TUSC supporters protesting outside the Council House

TUSC supporters protesting outside the Council House

At Coventry Council’s budget meeting on Tuesday February 24th, the governing Labour group voted unanimously to support a budget containing £15million worth of cuts. These cuts will lead to the closure of libraries, adult education centres, children’s centres, and the sacking of many council workers including lollipop men and women.

The National Chair of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), former MP and Socialist Party councillor Dave Nellist, handed in a 1,500 strong petition against the cuts to the Cabinet meeting held in the morning before the budget “debate”. When presenting the petition, Dave argued that the council should use their reserves to fund services and build a campaign to get the money back from central Government, and campaign for an incoming Government to provide financial relief to councils which used reserves to fund services.

Dave pointed out that the council has doubled its reserves from £40million to £80million, as well as making political decisions to use reserves for the ACL loan (£14million), investing in Coombe Abbey hotel (over £6million) and £millions more in Study Inn sites – “why don’t they make the political decision to use these reserves to fund services we need now, not for projects in 5, 6 or 7 years time?”

“This is nothing new. 40 years ago the Council faced cuts from a Labour Government under the IMF, and the Council leader, Arthur Waugh Sr., called a meeting in St Mary’s Hall of every Labour local authority, to call on the Labour Government not to make cuts.” Dave Nellist

In his brief response to reject the petition, Labour councillor Damian Gannon, Cabinet member for finance, claimed that reserves cannot legally be used – we would strongly challenge this claim, and ask under what law is it illegal for the council to use its own reserves? Even Tory minister Eric Pickles has called on councils to use reserves, and he isn’t known for advocating illegal budgets!

Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

Dave Nellist presents petition calling on Council to fight the cuts

Mr Gannon also claimed that the majority of the reserves cannot be used – however, even taking into account the £18million set aside for schools, the £10million the council plans to spend on privately-built old people’s homes (which should be built by the council, not private businesses), £4million for Ofsted improvements and around £3.5million that the council has used to fund children’s services and disabled children’s transport (demonstrating that the reserves can be used to fund expenditure!), there is around £45.5million left. Instead of setting this money aside for future projects, or “for a rainy day”, the council should acknowledge that it’s already “raining” and use it now!

If the councillors believed that the election of a Labour Government in May would make a difference, they could begin campaigning now for an incoming Labour Government to reverse all cuts, restore funding to local Government and reimburse any money the council had to use from reserves. However, despite council leader Ann Lucas’ theatrical prayer for a Labour Government in the council chamber, the evidence suggests that they know a Labour Government will act in the same way as the Tories. Perhaps they have heeded the words of their director of finance, Chris West, who said recently that “there is very little difference between the financial plans of the two main parties. Whoever wins the next election, the picture is broadly the same.”

Reflecting on the Cabinet meeting at which the petition was rejected, Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist and community campaigner Robert McArdle said “It seems as though Labour councillors are willing to use reserves for anything except fighting cuts, and aren’t prepared to mount a battle against austerity.”

TUSC activist and Socialist Party member Rob McArdle at a protest against library closures

TUSC activist and Socialist Party member Rob McArdle at a protest against library closures

Before the budget meeting in the afternoon a group of trade unionists and socialists lobbied the council to ask the councillors going in if they would vote against cuts. Sadly none of the councillors were swayed – we believe this shows the need for an anti-austerity challenge at the next election, to elect councillors who will listen and fight.

The budget meeting was more eventful than most council meetings, particularly as the opposition to cuts throughout was demonstrated by the presentation of 3 petitions against library closures – one of them presented by Labour cllr Ram Lakha, who went on to vote for the budget which will probably lead to the closure of the libraries!

Labour’s Damian Gannon moved the budget, which was described by a Tory cllr as “a Gannon korma not a Nellist vindaloo”! Even this is perhaps flattering to the budget, however, which many people across Coventry will have found hard to swallow.

For the most part the budget consisted of “tangible service cuts that our residents will see and feel”, in cllr Gannon’s own words. However, the proposal of a £500,000 “transition fund” to enable “community groups” to run services was notable. This concept chimes perfectly with David Cameron’s vision of a “big society”, in which the state and local government have ceased to run services and they are instead taken over by volunteers – not the first time that our Labour council has echoed Tory values.

While volunteers can do valuable work, a team of untrained individuals, however dedicated, will not be able to run services as effectively as trained staff. The council is using this fund as a way to distract from the massive damage these cuts will cause. It is also important to ask how much of this £500K will be going to private vultures like PriceWaterhouseCooper, who the council have previously used?

TUSC activist Dan Crowter asks a Labour cllr to vote against the cuts

TUSC activist Dan Crowter asks a Labour cllr to vote against the cuts

Cllr Gannon said that the council has “no choice but to make cuts”, and “has made bold and brave decisions”. A bold and brave decision would be to fight the cuts, not do the Tories’ dirty work!

During council leader Ann Lucas’ speech, despite appealing to the trade unions to work with the council, she attacked their position towards the council as “drivel” and criticised the “outraged middle class” for protesting against cuts. We want the council to work with the trade unions as well – but we want them to work together to fight the cuts, not make them.

Coventry Council does have a choice. They could use their reserves to fund services and build a campaign against cuts – but they’ve chosen instead to make ordinary people pay with our jobs and services. Cllr Gannon rightly said that the Tories are “on the side of the few not the many” – but which side are Labour on?

The Socialist Party will keep building the campaign against austerity within the trade unions, in our communities and in elections as part of TUSC . We will also campaign against the capitalist system, the cause of austerity – and replace it with a socialist system, run by the millions not the millionaires.

Tile Hill Library campaigner – “Why I fought to save our libraries”

Tile Hill Library campaigner – “Why I fought to save our libraries”

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist Sarah Smith

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition activist Sarah Smith

On Monday 23rd February scores of protestors held a “read-in” at Coventry Council House to protest at the councils proposals to close libraries in the city.

One of them was Sarah Smith from Tile Hill, a Socialist Party member and Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) activist who campaigned against the closure of Tile Hill Library and has now organised a petition against the closure of Jardine Youth Centre and Tile Hill Children’s Centre.

Below are some remarks she wrote about the campaign.

“The Library “read in” protest on Monday involved the telling of stories, so here is a story of a girl, who as a child had nothing. This girl got kicked out of school aged 14 without being able to read or write and was branded a good for nothing.

This girl used to pass a house often and in that house lived Dave Nellist, this girl heard that this MP stood up for people like her but didn’t ever dare to think that one day she would meet him. That girl was me, and now I campaign alongside Dave!

It’s thanks to Libraries and adult education classes that I learned how to read and write and got diagnosed with Dyslexia aged 25. So when I heard of the threatened closures I knew I had to get involved and started the “Save Tile Hill Library” petition, taking it in to every shop on Jardine Crescent. By standing with a stall in Tile Hill, and thanks to the shops support in having the petition, it has gained further support and well over 1000 signatures.

My petition ends Tuesday 3rd March, from there I aim to start a new petition, this time to save the Youth Centre and Sure Start Centre that are in Tile Hill. Finally, I feel very passionately about this campaign and my own theory on the reason why this is happening is the following – we are all entitled to our own opinion, but how do you reference that opinion if there are no books on that Library shelf? I feel that this is an attack on the lower and working class to silence us, but they WON’T silence me!”

Sarah is the prospective TUSC candidate for Woodlands in the May elections. Vote TUSC for fighting local councillors who’ll stand up for you!