TWENTY-one libraries closing, rubbish collections and road maintenance stripped to the bone, hundreds of council workers sacked, children’s services axed – these were amongst the catastrophic cuts voted through by Northamptonshire council on Thursday to the horror of the local residents.
One resident Bianca Todd warned: ‘When people die this winter – because they will die this winter – the blood will be on your hands!’ To make matters worse, government Commissioners are being paid a whopping £1,500 a day as enforcers to ensure that the cuts are carried out.
Liberal Councillor Dennis Meredith spoke for all when he said, ‘I think that’s a scandal. We need to send you back to London. It’s only 60 miles.’ Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘The situation in Northamptonshire is dire and an utter disgrace. The Council has created an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty for local residents and for staff. ‘Our main concern is that this is just the tip of the iceberg, as councils up and down the country are facing huge cuts to budgets.’
A total of 199 out of of 353 authorities, 56 per cent, have forecast a net decrease in reserves in 2018-19, suggesting councils of all types are struggling to plug funding shortfalls. Northamptonshire is the tip of an extremely big iceberg and the Tory government is purposely steering the Titanic straight towards it!
At its Annual Conference in Birmingham earlier in the year, the Local Government Association (LGA) launched its campaign, desperate for more government funding for local services. The LGA said that the government’s next Spending Review will be ‘make or break’ for local services, already under huge funding pressure. The LGA analysis estimates councils in England face a funding gap of £7.8 billion by 2025. Next year, 168 councils will receive no more core central government funding at all.
LGA Chairman Lord Porter said: ‘We’ve reached a point where councils will no longer be able to support our residents as they expect, including our most vulnerable. Millions of people will be deprived of the vital local services that help improve quality of life and bind communities together.’
Three more Tory councils, Somerset, Norfolk and Lancashire, are exhibiting the same warning signs as did Northamptonshire before it declared itself bankrupt, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. So the cat truly is out of the bag. The Tory government strips local councils of government funding, then directs them to shut down vital services to plug the shortfall. In other words, the local councils are left to do the dirty work for central government, meanwhile government commissioners are on standby to see that the dirty work is carried out!
It is now estimated that a further 20 councils are at immediate risk of bankruptcy.
All councils and trade unions have got to reject all the cuts, all the proposed closures and all the mass sackings of workers and mobilise everybody to take action to defend their communities, jobs and services. All government commissioners must be packed off to London with their tails between their legs.
All of the UK’s trade unions must be mobilised to join the action. This means that tens of thousands must lobby the TUC Congress in Manchester, on Sunday 9th September when the Congress is set to open. The TUC leaders and the leaders of all of the major trade unions must be told that they must take action to defend all council services under government attack.
This means that the TUC must be made to call an indefinite general strike to bring down the Tories and to bring in a workers government. Such a government must defend all jobs and services by nationalising the banks and all of the major industries, and putting them under workers’ management, to provide the basis for a planned socialist economy that will extend the provision of services, not cut them. There is not the slightest doubt that millions of workers and millions of the middle class will give 100% support to decisive TUC action.