Campaigning against council cuts in Southampton
Southampton council meets on 18 November in the next round of council budget consultations. Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) supporters will be lobbying the council to defend jobs and services and back Jeremy Corbyn’s call to stop cuts.
Services currently under threat include six libraries in the city. Just £250,000 would keep them open and protect librarians’ jobs. NHS walk-in services in Bitterne have recently closed, despite a five-year long TUSC campaign. Just £120,000 would fund the nursing staff to re-open services there.
While these essential services suffer, Southampton council has found £2 million to complete its corporate arts centre project, now home to a new Nandos restaurant.
The council actually held £19.9 million in its ‘General Fund reserves’ at the end of the 2014-2015 financial year. It also has £62.8 million in ‘earmarked GF reserves’ which, however, can still be used to support services. Councillors make choices – why can’t they find the money for the libraries and walk-in services?
Over £90 million cuts have been carried through since 2010 in Southampton, devastating jobs and services.
After winning a majority on the council in the 2012 local elections, Labour has continued voting though Tory cuts and losing council seats along the way, while anti-cuts councillors Don Thomas and Keith Morrell (a member of the TUSC national steering committee) have been re-elected with huge majorities.
The election of Jeremy Corbyn has boosted support for the anti-austerity movement. During the Labour leadership he spoke in Southampton to close to a thousand people who cheered his call to end council cuts.
To build support for such a stand TUSC is organising a Southampton People’s Budget conference to identify what the city needs and how we can fight for it.