COUNCILS all over the UK are poised to make the most savage cuts ever that will wreck and destroy local communities by destroying all of their amenities, returning them to the early 20th century.
One of them is the Labour-run Wolverhampton City Council which has said that it will be making £123m cuts to services ‘across the board’, cuts that will see many hundreds of council workers sacked.
1,400 jobs are to go as part of these £123m cuts over the next five years, with £31m of savings to be made before 2015, caused by a £147m fall in government funding by 2016.
The council says it will pay for services that are ‘absolutely essential’, meaning that libraries and public amenities are to become a thing of the past!
Libraries campaigner Pru Coleman warns: ‘Our libraries will have their opening hours absolutely slashed in some of the most deprived parts of the city. And we don’t think this is the end of the cuts. We think libraries will eventually close.’
Wolverhampton is not the first big city authority in the Midlands to raise the spectre of going bust. Birmingham City Council is in the same sinking boat.
In fact, an extra £25m of ‘savings’ have been imposed by ministers on Wolverhampton over and above the £98m of already-decided budget cuts over the next five years.
The council cabinet is discussing plans to ‘immediately stop all expenditure by council departments for the remainder of this financial year on everything which is not absolutely essential’.
Not so far from Woverhampton, in Wales, the Rhondda Cynon Taf also plans further cuts to save £70m
This means that most street lights in Rhondda Cynon Taf will be switched off late at night as it seeks ways to save £70m in the next four years.
Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) cabinet members will discuss museum, theatre and leisure centre closures and shutting all 12 summer paddling pools.
A consultation on the cuts last October included the shutting of libraries, and closing day centres will also be considered.
In fact, all 22 local authorities in Labour-controlled Wales have either announced or are in the process of agreeing plans to make huge cuts.
In the Rhondda, the axe is to fall in phases. Phase one proposals include closing 14 of its 26 libraries, phase two will close the Cynon Valley Museum and Muni Arts Centre in Pontypridd, as well as 12 paddling pools open for six weeks each summer.
Bus route subsidies for services that are not commercially viable would be nearly halved, from £841,000 to £441,000 a year.
Higher charges for adult social care services will also be introduced.
Muni Arts Centre could close under the money-saving plans.
Speaking when the latest plans were announced before Christmas, council deputy leader Paul Cannon blamed the Tory-led UK government austerity policies for the ‘very tough choices’ the authority is facing. In fact, the Welsh Labour government is following the lead of the Tory-led coalition in London!
Cannon can only offer consultation about the savage cuts, but not opposition.
He said: ‘I would stress that this second phase of proposals are just that – proposals, and if deemed appropriate by cabinet, they will be fully consulted on before any final decisions are made,’ he said.
‘There is no escape from tough decisions in this difficult financial climate. . .’
Welsh workers are to be consulted before the axe falls; this is the best that Welsh Labour can do.
In fact, it is the extremely powerful local government trade unions that must take a stand.
They must fight all attempts to scrap their members’ terms and conditions of employment, say no to all sackings and all cuts and closures and mobilise for industrial and political action.
The Tory-led coalition, the government for the bankers and the bosses, cannot be allowed to smash all local amenities and destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs, leaving bourgeois charities to provide food banks and soup-kitchens.
The public sector trade unions must go to the TUC to demand it call a general strike by all workers to defend the gains of workers by bringing down the coalition and bringing in a workers government.
A workers government is necessary since a Labour government will only continue from where the Tories leave off!