Socialist Worker

Shirebrook councillor fights for the people

by Ray Holmes, Respect councillor for Shirebrook North West ward in Bolsover
Issue No. 2077

Since my election in May I have been getting myself established as a councillor who works for the people.

Shirebrook is a working class area with many people out of work and pockets of acute poverty.

Since the Miners’ Strike the people have been kept down to the point where there is no oppositional culture. This means that the Labour Party gets elected all the time – often unopposed.

And then they are concerned only about keeping their power base and do nothing for local people.

I am fighting to stop the attacks on working class living conditions. We have to show people there is hope and there is someone who cares that they can trust.

Labour’s education policies are being implemented here. They want to turn Shirebrook School into an academy through the back door.

They say we can have a new school – it will be state funded but privately managed.

We have set up a steering committee to question their methods of consultation – up to now there has been none.

This is all part of Labour’s grand plan for Shirebrook. They’re handing over people’s future to the retail industry.

Our young folks will eventually only be educated to a standard dictated to by supermarkets.

I have supported people in my ward who face eviction because of this government’s low pay policies.

The high cost of utilities is now biting into an already low income or pension. Many can’t afford to pay the rent and feed their children.

I have publicly condemned the evictions saying they are a draconian method of punishing vulnerable single parent families – usually young women with children.

Naturally, New Labour stalwarts attacked me for it. I asked them to rewrite the eviction policy – I’m still waiting.

After my comments were broadcast on the YouTube website, they said I’d insulted the people of Shirebrook. What they meant of course is that I’d reduced the chances of increasing “inward investment”.

So I challenged them by pointing out that it is their government which has attacked working people for the last ten years.

Now increasing numbers can’t afford to pay the rent or their mortgage.

Instead of kicking them out onto the street, we should be helping them.

People who are kicked out have to move in with relatives, increasing the problems of overcrowding.

So the council is creating a time bomb. One day it will explode – who then will pick up the tab?

Respect recently published “Ray’s Report” in which we asked people to view YouTube and form their own opinion.

The feedback was terrific. Responses included “best thing ever said”, and “it gave us hope that things will change”.

Respect has been campaigning in this area in defence of the NHS for some time now. Respect members have been elected to the boards of foundation hospitals in the area.

Most people round here hate the system and are angry at the Labour Party. But they say there’s nowhere for them to go.

I’m saying, “There’s a different party – Respect. Help me to build a strong base to attack the perpetrators of the political vandalism we’re on the receiving end of.” And people are getting involved.


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