At our recent meeting Mansfield Save Our Services discussed how best to respond to the County Council’s consultation exercise on their plan to make £154 million of cuts over the next three years, as reported in the Chad.
We were united in condemning the main drift of the so-called consultation which is that the cuts are inevitable and nothing can be done other than make the vulnerable, council workers and the environment suffer.
In effect the Council are attempting to pass the buck but not to central government (which would at least be legitimate given that it is the vicious, ideologically driven Coalition Government that is forcing Councils into shortfall).
No, the Labour Council, supposedly elected on an anti-cuts manifesto, is trying to pass the blame onto the local electors by getting them to legitimise cuts through this consultation.
It is putting forward a sham consultation that will penalise the vulnerable based on deliberately uninformed people making choices that may be based on prejudice.
Nowhere in the consultation card is there mention of using reserves, or setting a “needs budget” so that central government would have to do their own dirty work.
Instead, disgracefully, we are asked if we want to have reduced services, travel further or pay more – in a time where people are reeling from increasing utilities costs, reduced benefits and frozen pay. The paying element, leading towards further privatisation is particularly disgusting as a Labour Council suggestion.
Nowhere is there the suggestion that a County wide campaign of unions, service users and the Council should be built to oppose the cuts.
Nowhere is the basic message that the rich should pay for the crisis that they created through gambling.
Mansfield Labour Party County Council representatives told us before the election that whatever the County Labour Group decided, they would oppose cuts – and we are watching to see if they stick to this.
In the meantime, Mansfield Save Our Services opposes the sham “consultation” that makes a mockery of the progressive idea of participatory budgeting.
We call on all those who oppose the cuts and the Coalition to refuse to participate.
We will be taking part in the Nationwide Day of Resistance, Civil Disobedience and Protest supported by the People’s Assembly, UK Uncut and many unions on 5th November.
In Mansfield we will meet in the Market Square at 6pm to “dispose” of consultation cards (that you can get from Mansfield Library or any County Council premises). Mark yours with a cross and the large words NO CUTS! and bring them along. Remember, remember the Fifth of November!
Secretary, Mansfield Save Our Services