Monday, 12 July 2010

Thursday! Protest outside Brighton council cuts meeting

This evening, at Brighton Town Hall, the city's 54 councillors will be debating £3.68 million worth of cuts from this year's budget. The Socialist Party, trade union branches and campaign groups will be protesting outside to demand that no cuts are made. This economic crisis was not caused by ordinary people, so why should we pay for it?

Unions say: Vote on the budget, and vote it down!
Meet 4pm, Brighton Town Hall. Bring your banners!

Every councillor will be handed a copy of a letter from Brighton Trades Council as they enter the town hall as a reminder that they are meant to serve the people of this city and not simply carry out orders from their party headquarters in London.

At tonight's meeting the councillors will "debate" proposals to cut £3.68 million from this year's budgets, as a result of grant cuts from the coalition government, but they will not be allowed to vote on these cuts, nor propose alternatives. Instead, all the decisions will be taken by a small group of Conservative councillors in a week's time.

If councillors are to be denied a democratic say on these cuts, then they should take a show of hands at tonight's meeting to force the Conversatives out of using an undemocratic council policy originally bought in by the Labour government.

The cuts to be debated include:
- Cuts of £1,580,000 to education, young people and children's services in Brighton and Hove this year
- The removal of ring-fenced grants for vital services in Brighton and Hove this year, including: the Youth Opportunity Fund (worth £141,000), Aids/HIV support (worth £455,000), Stroke Strategy (worth £93,000)
- £600,000 cuts this year from the Playbuilder renovation of children's playgrounds
- Cuts of £600,000 this year from SureStart children's centres in Brighton and Hove
- Cuts of 25 per cent in budgets promised in the future

In addition to these measures, council employees working in local government are suffering a pay freeze (though an increase in councillors' allowances of 2.3 per cent is being proposed by the Local Government Association!).

Local people will suffer a rise in VAT to 20 per cent, and cuts to housing benefit and tax credits from next year, which will have the worst effect on the poorest in our society.

Yet at the same time the council is proposing to employ four strategic directors, each of whom will be on a salary almost as high as the prime minister's!

In its letter, Brighton, Hove and District TUC stands firm that, "it does not except that these cuts need to fall on the most vunerable in society. Those responsible for the financial crisis should be the ones to pay for it - principally the bankers and speculators - and money could be saved by not proceeding with useless schemes such as Trident, or paying large sums to strategic directors."

Socialists will support workers who fight against cuts in jobs, privatisation and any reduction in terms and conditions. Come to this evening's demonstration to put pressure on our councillors to fight back, and to show others that there are people making a stand against this ideological war upon the lives and communities of working people while the rich carry on as before.