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Third anti-cuts councillor elected in Coxford! Congratulations Tammy Thomas!

As results were announced some relieved faces underlined the fear Labour councillors had of losing control in Southampton after four years of carrying out Tory cuts and their vote falling by over 6%. The results give a glimpse of different trends that the establishment and Blairites in the Labour Party would like to gloss over in their haste to bury Corbyn.

 Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 08.22.58Notably it was the fall in Tory votes by 6% that saved Labour, underlining the unpopularity of endless austerity, even then they still managed to lose a ward to the Tories in Sholing.

Debate rages over whether the Corbyn factor was positive or negative. Indications are that it was positive in some areas with Labour winning in Portswood for the first time in 35 years despite no campaigning and not putting out a leaflet.

Questions will also be asked of the campaign waged by UNITE and UNISON local council branches. Having carried a one-page ad in the local paper asking questions of candidates as to how council jobs and services could be protected in fear of a Tory victory, activists were sent out to Coxford, where local anti-cuts candidates Keith Morrell and Don Thomas have been re-elected with big majorities in the last two years.

If fear of losing to the Tories was the priority why weren’t activists sent to more marginal wards like Sholing which was lost, or seats like Bitterne Park where the Tories narrowly won?

It seems to be the case that right wing Labour fear a challenge from the left and went out to prevent a further anti-cuts councillor getting elected. They are right to be fearful. Underlining the support Keith and Don have built in Coxford in opposing cuts and defending council services, anti-cuts candidate, Tammy Thomas was elected with 45% of the vote and Labour nearly 500 votes behind.

The demand will now be raised of what can be done to fight the next round of cuts Labour plan to implement? It on this anger that a fightback against further cuts that should be mobilised amongst Corbyn supporters and the council unions. Southampton TUSC candidates continued to raise that call in the elections and will do so in the months ahead. Thanks to all of you who gave your support. Come and join us!

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To defend Southampton council jobs and services, Labour must refuse to implement cuts!

Southampton candidates standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in the local elections on May 5th would like to reply to the questions asked by UNITE & UNISON in its Friday night advert in Southampton’s Daily Echo. (SEE BELOW)

“Our candidates state clearly and unequivocally our opposition to Conservative cuts to local government funding and its intention to abolish the Rate Support Grant by 2020. This represents a threat to the existence of elected local government councillors delivering public services to meet the needs of working class people and their communities.

We oppose the continued policies of cuts and privatisation of jobs and services in the city carried out by Labour since 2012, when the Tories were removed from control of the council, after the strike by council workers.

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The only way to protect jobs and services and the terms and conditions of council workers is to build a city-wide mass campaign of the communities and our trade unions to demand the restoration of government funding.

To mobilise support for such a campaign Labour councillors must refuse to carry out further cuts and use its £40 million reserves and prudential borrowing powers to ensure jobs and services are protected. A legal balanced, no cuts budget was proposed to the council by anti-cuts councillors Keith Morrell and Don Thomas in 2013 showing what is possible. Click to read NO CUTS budget

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The Tory government is divided and deeply unpopular for its tax hand-outs to big corporations and the super-rich. Enormous support exists for a fightback, seen in the overwhelming support for the Junior Doctors strike.

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Our candidates played a leading role in Southampton, in the historic anti-poll tax campaign that defeated Thatcher. Nationally over 17 million backed the mass non-payment campaign and the equivalent of £7 billion was restored to local councils.

We support the call made by UNITE National Industrial Sector Committee and the UNISON Local Government Service Group Executive for Labour councils to refuse to carry out further cuts and give our full and continued support to such a campaign.

Southampton council taking such a step would receive enormous support locally and nationally, which would block any attempt by this unpopular government to use un-elected commissioners to intervene.

On the basis of such a stand we are confident that government funding can be restored along with vital jobs and services that have been lost to the city, as a step towards a city council budget that can raise the living wage to £10 and include an urgent campaign to tackle the severe housing crisis with a programme of mass council house building.”

Yours fraternally,

Nick Chaffey, Secretary and Sue Atkins, Chair

On behalf of Southampton TUSC council candidates

 

Statement from UNITE/UNISON

‘Council cuts’ advert wake-up call for Southampton voters

21 April 2016

The 253,000 people served by Southampton city council will be dished up a menu of such unpalatable cuts that vital public services will be decimated, if the Tories take over after the local elections on 5 May.

As a wake-up call to residents in the run-up to the local council elections on Thursday 5 May, Unite, the country’s largest union  and public service union Unison have paid for a full page advert in the Southampton Echo tomorrow (Friday 22 April).

Unite regional officer Ian Woodland said: “What we fear is the Tories taking control of the city council after 5 May as their leader is ideological Brexit supporter Cllr Jeremy Moulton and committed to serving up an unpalatable menu of cuts that will salami slice public services.

“The unions that represent the 3,800-strong council workforce appreciate that the authority faces a £60 million funding gap by 2017/18, which has been made worse by the massive ‘austerity’ cuts to local government made by Whitehall since 2010.

“In the past few years we have worked exhaustively with the council leadership to safeguard services. There is a plan in place to do that in coming years, despite the large hit to the budget.

“Our concerns are two-fold that a change of administration could put all this at risk and voters need full disclosure because they are the service finders and users.

“We don’t feel that Tory councillors have been as open as they should be with the electorate as to what is on the cards in terms of cuts to council services, such as adult and children’s social care; and waste and recycling.

“We are writing to all political parties contesting seats on 5 May urging greater transparency and constructive dialogue with the staff side unions to show moves to outsource is not the answer to providing quality services to the Southampton community.

“That’s why we are asking four questions in the advertisement including asking councillors if the council intends to outsource services to a private company and seeking a commitment that there will be no more changes to the workforce’s pay, terms and conditions and job security.”

Are you anti-austerity? Vote for anti-austerity candidates in Southampton on May 5th!

“THE TORIES HAVE SLASHED FUNDING TO SOUTHAMPTON COUNCIL BUT LABOUR COUNCILLORS HAVE SIMPLY CARRIED OUT THE CUTS.

WE NEED COUNCILLORS LIKE ANTI-CUTS COUNCILLORS KEITH MORRELL, DON THOMAS & ANDREW POPE WHO VOTED AGAINST BUDGET CUTS IN FEBRUARY.

JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TO RESTORE COUNCIL JOBS & SERVICES.

A UNITED CAMPAIGN OF SOUTHAMPTON ANTI-CUTS COUNCILLORS, TRADE UNIONS AND THE COMMUNITY CAN FORCE THE RETURN OF FUNDING STOLEN SINCE 2010.” Sue Atkins, Southampton TUSC

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SOUTHAMPTON TUSC COUNCIL CANDIDATES: 100% ANTI-CUTS!

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BASSETT: DAVID RAWLINSON

BEVOIS: ANDREW HOWE

BITTERNE: DEE STRUTT

BITTERNE PARK: LINDA BOULTON

HAREFIELD: GRAHAM O’REILLY

HAREFIELD: BO FLETCHER

MILLBROOK: PETE WYATT

PEARTREE: MIKE MARX

PORTSWOOD: NICK CHAFFEY

SHOLING: DECLAN CLUNE

SWAYTHLING: KEV HAYES

WOOLSTON: SUE ATKINS

WOOLSTON: GRAHAM HENRY

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SOUTHAMPTON TUSC SUPPORTS ANTI-CUTS CANDIDATES:

BARGATE: JOHN EASTON

COXFORD: TAMMY THOMAS

REDBRIDGE: DENISE WYATT

SHIRLEY: DAVE FLETCHER

SOUTHAMPTON TUSC WORKS ALONGSIDE ANTI-CUTS COUNCILLORS: KEITH MORRELL, DON THOMAS & ANDREW POPE

If Southampton Labour councillors won’t stand up to the Tories… let’s elect ones who will!

Southampton TUSC Council Elections May 2016

We are standing in May’s council elections in Southampton to offer a 100% anti-cuts alternative to Conservative austerity and Labour councillors who say there is nothing they can do. We need more councillors like Keith Morrell, Don Thomas and Andrew Pope who have been prepared to vote against further cuts in the city.

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All the Tory promises to return the country to economic growth and prosperity have turned to dust as cuts continue to the NHS, education and council services. Shamefully 24% of children in Southampton live in poverty and rely on food banks. No wonder that anger found a voice in the shock election victory of anti-austerity Jeremy Corbyn to leader of the Labour Party.

But all those hoping to see a change at Southampton Labour Council must be sorely disappointed as a further round of cuts were voted through.

Why are we being asked to pay in cuts  to our council services while the Tories hand out massive cuts to big business and the super-rich? Why is the fifth richest country in the world seeing library funding cut, Bitterne NHS Walk-In closed, elderly care at Woodside Lodge and Brownhill House closed and a housing crisis that sees 15 000 on the council waiting list?

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TUSC candidates are standing across the city alongside anti-cuts campaigners in Coxford, Redbridge, Shirley and Bargate to give a voice to those who want an end to austerity. We reject the argument of Simon Letts that there is nothing Southampton Council can do. Why not mobilise the anger in Southampton of council workers, their trade unions and the local community and demand the Tory government restores the £90 million funding to Southampton, cut since 2010?

To do this would mean calling a halt to further cuts and using the council’s £40 million reserves and borrowing powers to protect jobs and services.

The council found an extra £2 million to furnish the Arts Quarter with fancy door knobs, why not find the money for the Bitterne Walk-In or Brownhill House? Why not fund the libraries and youth services we need?

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Such a stand would receive an enthusiastic response and heap enormous pressure on a weak and divided government. The government has been forced to retreat on cuts to tax credits and PIP disability benefits. Why not on council cuts?

Election launch public meeting: NHS GP Crisis, re-open the Bitterne Walk-In

Saturday 26 March, 2pm Bitterne United Reform Church

Bitterne Precinct (Above Iceland), Southampton

For more information contact Nick Chaffey 07833 681910

What can Southampton Labour Council do to stop the cuts?

“It is very disappointing to us and the people of this city that we find ourselves here in this chamber once again, on the verge of witnessing another devastating round of cuts that will heap yet more misery on our city.”

Deputation by Declan Clune, Southampton TUSC, to Southampton Council budget setting meeting, Wednesday 10 February.

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“The reason for this long and painful period of austerity is well known being as it is ideologically led by the Conservative Party, some of whose representatives we have in this chamber. It is clearly evident to all how the party that is so willing to allow multibillion pound corporations get away with paying little or no tax in some cases, the party that is committed to ensuring that the workers and poor in this country pay for a crisis that was not of their doing, are so committed as part of that agenda to strip away every public asset we have in our communities.

 

In recent years we have lost youth services in this city, we have lost the Bitterne Walk-in Centre, Woodside Lodge, (an essential service for sufferers of dementia and Altzeimers) our libraries and sure start centres reduced or taken away, along with all the jobs that existed in those services reduced and stripped away. The latest round of cuts have threatened another essential service for our city’s elderly and vulnerable people in Brownhill House, where will this end?

Throughout the years this has taken place, we in TUSC have addressed you before to raise the real opportunity to resist these cuts time and time again. The brave and inspirational stance of Southampton Councillors Against Cuts, Keith Morrell and Don Thomas who refused to vote for the cuts was ridiculed and ignored by members here today. Those people ridiculing this stance claimed that it was political suicide for them and that they would be beaten at the ballot box for taking this stand. Yet both of these councillors went back to their electorate to find they had overwhelming support and backing from them leading to their re-elections by landslides in both cases.

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When it comes to the councillors here on the Conservative side of the chamber, we to some extent expect their attitude to reflect their national leaders. But isn’t it interesting to hear this week that even David Cameron’s aunt has taken a stance against cuts by signing a petition launched to fight the closure of a service in her area. In fear of losing support for political support in their own back yards Cameron has found £300M emergency funding for cash strapped councils. Labour are claiming 83% of that money is going to Tory run councils. This begs the question to Labour, what could you win if you were willing to put up a fight?

Labour, surely we have a right to expect so much more from. We heard time and time again from some of the councillors sat here today how there is no mood in society to vote against cuts and that taking that position has no support. How interesting it was then to see the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of that party. His campaign was won with the same demands that prove those councillors wrong.

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We in TUSC have been out all over the city with stalls asking residents what it is they want from their council. They overwhelmingly replied that they wanted public services to remain, stay public and be fully funded. We asked them if they would support the council if it voted against cuts and they overwhelmingly replied they would. We asked if they would support the council if it used reserves to pay for services and used the prudential borrowing powers available to them while mounting a city-wide campaign to demand proper funding is returned to the city from central government. They again overwhelmingly replied that they would.

These demands are not new and I know councillors here have heard these demands before. Because we have raised them consistently every year since the age of austerity forced upon us began. The arguments we have heard before about these demands not being a viable alternative are now found to be untrue. Today we have a council in Stoke that is committed to using its reserves to pay for services that would otherwise be lost without any hysterical claims that this is illegal.

Of course, that council that was once a Labour council but is now controlled by independent/conservative coalition, does not go far enough. They have no intention of using the time this move gives them to mount any kind of mass campaign to make the demand of a return of funding to that city.

We know from documents available from this council that there are £40M in reserves that could be used in such a way. More and more people are starting to understand how particularly vicious these cuts are when they realise how services already lost could have been saved by using a small percentage of those reserves.

I am here today to again put forward the alternative that exists but I want to be clear. What we are asking for is not for this council to refuse to make a budget or indeed set an illegal one. We are saying loud and clear that you do have a choice and the choice is to set a legal no cuts budget by using those reserves and using the time positively as I explained earlier.

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I would like to encourage, beg and plead with any of you who can find a shred of humanity, a shred of decency to vote against these cuts and become a part of the fight back against these cuts. As Councillors Keith Morrell and Don Thomas have shown and they have told us, your residents will back you and we can fight together to stop the widespread ruination of our fair city. Too much has been lost already.”