Fighting council cuts in Nottingham

Submitted by martin on 23 March, 2021 - 11:19 Author: Vicki Morris
John Carroll Leisure Centre

Labour-run Nottingham City Council have voted to make £15.6m cuts this year, leading to 272 job cuts, 5% of the workforce. They also want to raise council tax by nearly 5%, and are dipping into reserves to balance their budget.

But they face resistance from council unions and determined pockets of the community to the proposed cuts, particularly their proposal to close John Carroll Leisure Centre in Radford, one of the most deprived parts of the city.

Before the vote was taken, Nottingham City Unison set the proposals in the context of recent history:

"£271m in budget savings since 2010 has resulted in an estimated loss of over 1,000 City Council jobs over the last 10 years, with an additional 600 jobs being cut in the last few months alone [mainly through voluntary redundancy]."

Privately, several councillors admit they don't want to make these latest cuts; campaigners are pressuring them to come out and say it publicly.

We drafted a motion opposing the cuts; this has been passed by three Labour Party wards now and goes to Nottingham East CLP this month.

Ten councillors, including the council leader, turned up to a recent trades council meeting against the cuts, showing they feel under pressure. We argued they should link with Labour councils around the country to fight the government for more money for our communities.

The trade unions have held online and in-person rallies and recently a small socially distanced protest outside council offices.

The council is blaming Government failure to reimburse them for Covid-19 related costs for the need to make cuts, but the council has made some blunders that have contributed to its financial predicament.

Worst of these was Robin Hood Energy (RHE), set up by the council as a well-intentioned foray into the energy supply market. It failed and wound up costing the council around £38 million; 230 RHE employees lost their jobs.

After the RHE collapse, the council, facing bankruptcy, agreed to a City Council Recovery and Improvement Plan to avoid being placed in special measures.

The council has also recently arranged with Government to borrow £20m this year, to stabilise its finances, the first instalment of £35m over two years.

Campaigners say, in light of this new financing, the council should row back on the cuts.

Labour holds 50 out of the 55 council seats. The Socialist Party is hoping to make mileage for their electoral project, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), through Labour's failure to fight the cuts. While TUSC is unlikely to make headway a fall-away in Labour's vote and demoralisation of its activists is on the cards if the council continue to pass on Tory cuts to the working-class communities of Nottingham.

• John Carroll Leisure Centre campaign: www.savejohncarroll.co.uk

Comments

Submitted by AWL on Thu, 25/03/2021 - 11:28

Hi comrades,

One bit that's not clear from this - and I suspect I know the answer - is does the council seek to organise any campaigning against or even just meaningfully speak out against central government cuts, and for restored funding?

As far as I can see no Labour council, not even the most leftish ones, do that. But it's surely an important thing to demand.

Sacha Ismail

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