Local Councils

"The Silvertown Tunnel will be a disaster"

Victoria Rance, a spokesperson for the Stop the Silvertown Tunnel campaign, spoke to Solidarity. If it goes ahead the Silvertown Tunnel [a road tunnel under the Thames between Silvertown and the Greenwich Peninsula, supported by London's Labour mayor Sadiq Khan] will be a disaster for people in East London and for the fight against climate change. It’s being justified as a way of easing congestion. The Blackwall Tunnel always has jams, and there’s not many river crossings in the East of London. But what they’re doing is making a crossing right next to the Blackwall Tunnel – it’s the same...

Labour and looking to the future

I really think we need to challenge the prevailing narrative that it was Labour’s position on Brexit that caused it to lose the “red wall”. Unfortunately, this seems to be the prevailing view in the Labour Party (and I’ve also heard it from Socialist Workers Party members). The real reasons for Labour’s electoral disaster are, in reality, far more complex than this simplistic explanation, and go back many years before Brexit became a political issue. Labour has been haemorrhaging votes in the “red wall” areas a long time, and the Brexit issue was only the straw that finally broke the camel’s...

12 councils to follow Croydon

According to the Financial Times of 9 February, quoting local government finance expert Bob Whiteman, at least 12 further local authorities are on the brink as budget-making for 2021-22 approaches. In November, Croydon’s Labour council issued a “section 114” notice, an emergency freeze on spending because it couldn’t balance its budget. Whiteman says the 12 are “the tip of the iceberg”. Six may avoid “section 114” by doing deals with the government to shift spending into capital accounts. The Tories have cut some £15 billion from central government funding to councils since 2010. In 2020-1...

Council cuts: battles looming

A BBC survey has found nine out of ten major local authorities in England with not enough cash to cover their spending plans in the financial year 2021-2. Coronavirus could lead to them going £1.7bn over budget. To keep services going, say council leaders, billions cut from central government funding to councils over the last ten years must be restored. Although higher than previous settlements under Tory governments since 2010, the council funding settlement for 2021-22 is radically insufficient. Already one in six children’s centres and nearly a thousand libraries have closed. Councils have...

Rally against council cuts, 23 February

The Lambeth branch of the public services union Unison has called a meeting to bring together activists across local government unions, community campaigns and the Labour Party to discuss stopping local government cuts looming in the 2021-2 budget year. Tuesday 23 February 2021, 19:00, on Zoom; more details here. Speakers: Bell Ribeiro-Addy MP; Sean Fox, Unison Chair of the National Joint Council Committee; Susan Matthews, Unite Branch Secretary and Executive Council member; Andy Prendergast, GMB Southern Region Lead Officer for Public Services; Duncan Morrison, Lewisham NEU; Councillor James...

An Open Letter to my fellow Labour councillors

Dear colleagues, The past decade in local government has been defined largely by one thing: cuts. And if this government has their way, this will be the story for the next decade too. Rishi Sunak has heaped yet more misery on councils. His budget provided £5bn less than the Tory leadership of the Local Government Association said is necessary just to “stay afloat”. Following the disastrous impact of the pandemic on councils’ finances, we are facing a new wave of cuts. Although the impact may not have kicked in across the country yet, cases like Luton (where £22m of emergency cuts were...

"Labour councils should be fighting the government for more money"

Croydon council, in South London, has issued a Section 114 notice. This means the council will now only provide a bare legal minimum of services, ie make even more drastic cuts. A local union activist spoke to Josh Lovell and Sacha Ismail about the possibilities of a fightback in the borough. Like other local authorities, Croydon is the victim of ten years of cuts. It has lost 76% of its central government funding. The Labour administration has also invested in some dubious ventures, a number of which have not worked out – but the fundamental frame is these dramatic cuts to its funding. Covid...

Video: Fighting council cuts

Video and audio introductions from a meeting on the history and lessons of fighting council cuts, with Josh Lovell, Labour Party councilor. Sweeping cuts are now taking place and are expected in local authorities across the UK, but neither Labour nor the left are prepared for this. If Labour does not take up the fight it will have much less chance of winning back working-class voters, and importantly, saving the jobs and services we all rely on. Josh Lovell, a Labour Party councillor (in opposition) discusses the history of past battles in local government going back to the 1970s, and how we can apply lessons learned from those struggles today. From a meeting of the same name, on 4 October.

Fight the cuts, fight the pay freeze!

Chancellor Rishi Sunak claims he is not “returning” to austerity. This while: • All public sector workers outside the NHS get a pay freeze. And the government will not confirm that NHS workers will get a pay rise! It also seems it will cancel the planned 49p rise in the minimum wage in favour of something more like 19p. • Councils are saying they need billions more just to avoid yet another round of even deeper cuts. • The government refuses even to make its measly £20-a-week increase to Universal Credit permanent; it will be withdrawn in April. Meanwhile the Tories have announced they will...

Making anti-racism a union issue

Two years ago, activists in the Lambeth branch of the public services union Unison launched a campaign to fight institutional racism at Lambeth Council. We knew our employer had a huge race pay gap. We were hearing from our members that they were experiencing more racism at work, since the Brexit vote. We launched a survey and our black workers told us about their experiences of discrimination at work. The stats showed the same story. There were a disproportionate number of white workers in higher grades. You were more likely to face a disciplinary investigation at Lambeth if you were black...

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