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Socialist Party Leicester

Campaign against Leicester Council Cuts 2004

Updated 1/3/2004


At the City Council Budget meeting on 25th February the Liberal/Tory council leadership pushed through millions of pounds worth of cuts despite a massive campaign of opposition.

Some concessions were made under pressure and some voluntary groups have been reportedly saved, however most of the cuts still went through. The Liberal "rebels" who said they would vote against cuts all accepted these minor concessions. Under the pressure of the Government's threat to "cap" the council tax rise originally proposed of 14% it was reduced. But if you include the police and fire precepts, then the total rise will still be about 10%

Socialist Party members were fully involved in supporting the demonstrations and lobbies of the campaign. We consistently argued for a "Budget deficit" ie no cuts and no massive council tax rise.

One of the lessons of this campaign must be no trust in any of the main political parties, no matter what they say when they are out of power! Labour cut services when they were in office, the Liberals and Tories are doing it now.

In the next local elections we need to have anti-cuts candidates across the city. Socialist Party candidates will want to unite with anti-cuts campaigners in a common statement of opposition to cuts in services. Lets shake up the big business parties!

Below is the fuller statement we gave out at the budget setting meeting:

Under immense pressure from the anti-cuts campaign it's likely that the Liberal / Tory Council will make at least a few concessions.
However, we should continue to demand no cuts whatsoever. All the groups threatened with cuts carry out vital work often amongst the most vulnerable in our city. No groups should face any cuts.
In fact - we think that the council should be looking to increase funding for voluntary groups. Not only for voluntary groups in fact but on housing, infrastructure, social services and all the under funded services in our city.
If the council say there is no money to do this they should launch a mass campaign to demand more money from central government.
There is plenty of money for war and occupation in Iraq. Corporation Tax on big business has even been cut under New Labour. Britain is a highly developed economy and there is plenty of wealth to pay for all the services we need.
The real problem of course is that this wealth is owned and controlled by a tiny minority who guard it fiercely with the aid of their friends in government.

Labour opportunism:

The Labour Party run council were so unpopular that they got voted out of office at the last local elections. Now in opposition they are attempting to pose as the anti-cuts party.
This is nothing short of cynical opportunism. They carried out cuts when they were in power, including past cuts in the voluntary sector.
In reality the Labour, Liberal and Tory parties are all parties of cuts. All 3 parties represent the interests of the rich and big business.

Whilst we are sympathetic to those who aim to 'reclaim' the Labour Party from big business control and return it to its socialist roots we do not judge that they will succeed.
The major battles in the Labour Party took place in the 1980s. The right wing won. The right wing now has control and has crushed internal democracy. The Labour Party gets most of its funding from big business and this is who it serves obediently in power.

Working class people need their own party:

At the beginning of the 20th century the Labour Party was founded by trade unionists and socialists. They realised that working class people needed their own party. Whilst we are 100 years on today the hijacking of the Labour Party means that yet again, the working class has no party of it's own.
As a step towards creating a new workers' party we argue that anti-cuts campaigners, trade unionists and socialists should stand in elections to provide a fighting left wing alternative to the 3 parties of cuts.
Trade unions should follow the lead of the RMT union and disaffiliate from Labour. Unions should only fund parties that will defend their members and that agree with union policy.
In Scotland we say fund the Scottish Socialists and build that party into a mass organisation.
In England and Wales where there is no such alternative yet in existence we argue that the unions should help create a new workers' party by uniting with anti-cuts campaigners and existing socialist groups to bring about such a new party.

If you agree with us and want to help in the fight for a new workers' party and also for a society where the wealth and resources are publicly owned and democratically controlled, for a socialist society run to meet the needs of all, then join us.

Huge demo against Cuts

Photo: Nik D.

Up to 1500 people marched through the streets of Leicester last Saturday (8 Feb) in protest at council cuts. The Liberal led council intends to make £4 million worth of cuts, which will mean the closure of voluntary groups such as adventure playgrounds, community group centres as well as central services such as Social Services & Cultural & Leisure services. Hundreds of jobs are under are threatened. They are also proposing a 14% increase in council tax!
The campaign is already having an effect, with rumours of splits in the ruling Liberal group as councillors fear for their future positions.
On the march hundreds of children, young people and users of the groups were joined by UNISON, NUT and NATFHE members including college lecturers on strike. One of the organisers speaking at the rally said, “I don’t know much about politics but I’m learning fast. I didn’t vote people in to make these cuts. We are not statistics or figures on a budget sheet we are real people. It’s time to make a stand”. Loads of people came to sign the petition at the Socialist Party stall, a significant number of people said, they felt they no longer had a voice and one said it was good to see one party standing up. All agreed with the need for a new workers party. The Socialist Party gave out 100’s of leaflets calling for the council to refuse to make the cuts and organise a campaign to fight for the cash needed from the government.
Josie Nicholls

Pressure builds against massive Cuts and 14% Council Tax rise!

Around 300 people lobbied Leicester City Council’s meeting on 29 Jan against the cuts being proposed by the Liberal/Tory ruling group.

Constant noise greeted councillors as they went in, with chants of “shame on you” and a samba band. At one point a large group of young people protesting against the threatened closure of their Adventure playgrounds pushed towards the entrance and looked like they might storm the building!

This is only the last of a series of protests and lobbies in response to the City Council’s £4 million cuts which affect 100 voluntary projects, with a wide range of services in the most deprived areas including advice for the homeless, a rape crisis centre, youth facilities, facilities used by the elderly etc as well as direct council services. Hundreds of jobs are threatened.

The Liberal council leader, Roger Blackmore, came out to speak to protesters at one of the lobbies and demonstrated his complete ignorance of the voluntary groups he was shutting- over 80 projects are being cut. He thought there were only 4 adventure playgrounds, there are actually 9.

Bethan Lloyd, worker at the Braunstone Adventure playground said: “He asked us what does the Adventure playground do? What age groups does it take? When is it open? Shouldn’t he have asked these questions before he said he was going to shut us? The he saw the Ajani Centre banner and said ‘What’s that then?’ He is clueless about what he is cutting!”

The Liberals came to power in May after campaigning against Labour’s previous cuts and rate rises, in fact only a matter of weeks ago they won a council by-election on that programme. Days afterwards the council were proposing cuts and a 14% rate rise!

In addition they are considering widespread privatisation of “cultural services”- parks and gardens, museum etc. One parks worker said: “They are talking about hiving us off to a ‘charitable status’ trust which will receive a grant from the council. I asked would the council be legally obliged to give that money? A couple of years down the line they could stop it, just as they are destroying the voluntary sector now as it is outside the council’s ‘front line’ services”

Equally hypocritically Labour are now claiming to oppose the cuts! The Liberals say there was a £10 million hole in the budget left by the previous council, whilst Labour say the Liberals are lying and that the cuts aren’t necessary.

Certainly Labour ran down the reserves in the years before the last election as they always do so they don’t have to announce massive cuts and big rate rises in election year. No doubt they would have done just as the Liberals are now – replenishing those reserves by making service cuts at the beginning of their term in office in the hope its all forgotten by next time elections come around. In reality there is no major difference between all 3 parties – they all stand for cuts.

It could be that some of the cuts/ rate rise could be ameliorated by accounting measures, but it doesn’t solve the long term fundamental issue of the under-funding by national government. That’s why the Socialist Party is saying that a deficit budget is needed- ie refuse to make cuts or a massive rate rise and organise a mass struggle to force the missing cash from the government.

photos Karl X                 Labour Leader Wilmott on the lobby- pretending he fights cuts

 14/1/04 Liberal council: Massive Cuts and 14% Council Tax rise!

“Sack the council” was the chant from hundreds of kids outside Leicester City Council’s office on 13th January. They were joined by hundreds of adults protesting against the sweeping £4 million cuts proposed for this year by the Liberal/Tory ruling group.

Half the cuts are to be from the voluntary sector that provides vital services in the most deprived areas, from adventure playgrounds and youth clubs for kids, to centres for the elderly, rape crisis centres, welfare rights and legal advice, many projects based in black and Asian areas, and much more. Many of these will close completely.

In addition cuts are to be made directly to council services, resulting in 100 job losses on top of the 100 going in the voluntary sector. The unions think that compulsory redundancies are likely. At the same time Council Tax payers are to pay a whopping 14% increase!

The Liberal became the largest group on the council last year after opportunistically campaigning against cuts that the previous Labour administration had made. Labour were responsible for shutting the main city centre swimming baths, the Granby Halls Leisure Centre and 6 secondary schools to name but a few.

But this didn’t stop labour leader, Ross Wilmot, getting up at the rally to claim his party were fighting the cuts!

The Liberal / Tory council is continuing where the Labour council left off- even worse! Whilst we never had any illusions that the Liberals or Tories would run the council in the interests of ordinary working class people, some people in Leicester did. In the face of these latest council cuts these illusions have now been shattered.

The council claim they have been under-funded by national government. They say that they are £20 million worse off than other equivalent councils.

Leicester Socialist Party branch has raised the idea of a deficit budget based on what is needed to avoid these severe cutbacks in services. The council should set a council tax rise more in line with general inflation, and fight for the rest of the cash from the government. To achieve that they would have to mobilise support from the council workforce, council tax payers and users of services.

We don’t expect they will, so we need to build a united campaign of voluntary groups and the trade unions to fight the cuts and the massive council tax rise. Many lobbies are planned, and a demonstration is being organised for February 7th.

But we also need to discuss alternatives to the main parties, none of whom represent the interests of working class people.  A new mass working class party is needed. A start down that road would be to stand anti-cuts campaigners and socialists in all council elections in the future.

Leic SP no cuts no rate rises statement here

Other stories:

Leicester College lecturers strike

Fees campaign

Liberal Cuts in Leicester (July 2003 report)

Socialist vote in Braunstone, May 2003

Anti-war protests

Massive schools strike in Leicester against the war

For more info on what we've been up to in the past read our archive page

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