Socialist Worker

Protesters resist the cuts in councils' new budgets

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2443

Demonstrating in Camden, north London

Demonstrating in Camden, north London (Pic: Phoebe Watkins)

Hundreds of trade unionists and community campaigners protested against cuts in local councils across Britain last week. Spineless politicians whine about “difficult decisions” and “financial challenges”. 

All but a handful of councillors have voted for the latest round of austerity instead of encouraging resistance.

Hundreds marched against the cuts of Labour-controlled Haringey council, north London, last week.

The council leader’s “duty to set a balanced budget” means £70 million of cuts. 

This will hit youth services, children’s centres and day centres for the elderly. It will close three out of four day centres used by people with learning disabilities.

As councillors voted it through shouts of, “The youth will riot, there’s going to be a riot in Tottenham again” were heard from the public gallery.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition candidate for Tottenham Jenny Sutton (see page 19) argued, “Haringey unions must now walk the walk and ballot for strikes to save jobs and services. No more illusions in a vote for Labour.”

In Hull anti-austerity campaigners protested at the Labour-run council’s cuts to library services, transport services for the elderly and council day centres facing closure.

Independent group Hull Red Labour was founded by former Labour councillors Dean Kirk and Gill Kennett.


They accused Labour of “reducing services by stealth” and stockpiling millions of pounds in reserve funding while cutting vital services for young people and adults.

Gill said, “We shouldn’t be saving money for a rainy day, because that day is already here.”

Some 200 people gathered in Falkirk to protest at council proposals to cut the primary school week last Saturday. The joint Labour and Tory administration’s plan to reduce pupil hours by 10 percent is one of several plans in its £40 million budget cuts.

Similar plans at other Scottish councils, in Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire, have been successfully resisted.

At Brighton and Hove Council—where the balance of political control requires the support of two parties—Labour, Tory and Green councillors failed to agree on a budget. 

Neither wishes to be painted as the party of cuts ahead of the general election.

Six Green councillors voted against their own party’s budget, saying they refused to vote through any more cuts.

The Unison union says it is preparing for industrial action as various proposals include slashing hundreds of jobs and cutting contributions to workers’ pensions.

In Taunton last week Bridgwater trades council protested against proposed multi-million pound cuts at Tory-controlled Somerset County Council. 

One protester said cuts could “decimate” public services, adding, “What I find particularly offensive is the fact that it has been the vulnerable and the poor who have basically taken it all.”


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