Southampton Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) have launched a consultation for a People’s Budget for the city, in contrast to the new round of cuts being proposed by the Labour-led council.
A questionnaire has been produced (clickhttp://www.tusc.org.uk/txt/351.pdf) for community groups, local trade unions and Southampton residents generally to say what they would like the council to do to improve life in the city.
Respondents are also asked whether they would support Southampton Labour council refusing to carry out further cuts; whether they think the council should use its reserves and borrowing powers to protect jobs and services; and whether they would actively support a campaign to restore government funding to Southampton.
The first results of the survey will be discussed at a Southampton People’s Budget Conference on Saturday 9 January, 2pm, Meon Suite, James Matthews Building, Guildhall Square, Southampton.
Rebel councillor speaks out
At the most recent Southampton council meeting on 18 November the Labour Group presented a resolution opposing the government’s Trade Union Bill attacking the rights of workers to organise effectively to defend their jobs, terms and conditions.
But it also discussed the new round of cuts it is planning to make to Southampton’s local public services.
Consequently Southampton’s two rebel anti-cuts councillors Don Thomas and Keith Morrell (a member of the TUSC national steering committee), while backing the Labour Group’s motion against the Trade Union Bill, called for the council to further support working class people by not implementing cuts to council services.
Below are the remarks made by Don Thomas in the debate:
“We see this motion with our amendment to it as an opportunity for this Labour council to act in accordance with Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign pledge to start a real fight-back against the government’s austerity agenda.
“When Jeremy Corbyn came down to the Ageas Bowl in the summer and spoke to over a thousand Labour Party members and supporters he said very clearly ‘cuts to services must stop’.
“And as councillor McEwing rightly said on the very same stage, ‘the fight-back starts now’. Cathy is someone I think highly of and I could not agree more.
“It is good the Labour Group are taking up the trade union cause, and of course we showed full support for that.
“But here’s the rub. Will you now – the Labour Group – do the same by taking up the cause for our Southampton residents, and our council staff?
“This amendment would start that process, by saying we will not close down any more facilities or lay off any more staff.
“Make no mistake. Rather than being thrown out of office next May residents will thank you, and will show their appreciation through the ballot box.
“Leader of the Council [Simon Letts], you have said on at least one public occasion – I believe it was at the Overview and Scrutiny committee – that you were nearing the point of throwing the keys back to the government because you were running out of things to cut.
“Can I suggest Simon, rather than contemplating handing the keys back, that you follow your leader Jeremy Corbyn’s stance and start a fight-back? Right here, right now, in Southampton.
“We are the fifth richest country on the planet. When the government needed to find the money for the bankers there was absolutely no problem.
“I’m sure that no one in the Labour Group came into politics to carry out this government’s dirty work, with cuts after cuts after cuts, year after year. I was in the Labour Party myself for thirty plus years, this tells me that must be so.
“And if anyone in the Labour Group believes that they still have ‘no choice’ then I say you must ask yourself, what are you doing being in politics?
“As your very own Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell has said, ‘austerity is a political choice’. Never has a truer word been spoken”.
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