Spending cuts: a better alternative

County Hall at Trent Bridge
County Hall at Trent Bridge
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I suppose Cllr Alan Rhodes must think that if he keeps on saying the £154 million worth of spending cuts to County Council jobs and services are necessary, (with another £70 million to come) and that the council has no choice, he, and the people of Nottinghamshire, will begin to believe it. (Guest Column, 24/03/14.)

You might even be forgiven for thinking that he and the councillors who voted through such savage cuts secretly supported them, as they have put up so little fight!

The ‘grim reality’, as Cllr Rhodes puts it, is families losing an income, an earner with little choice but to claim out-of-work benefits and look for non-existent jobs. (How is this bringing down the deficit, as the government wants?) The older or disabled person forced to rely on reduced amounts of social care. The young person looking for something to do in the evenings, only to find their youth centre is closed. It’s also worth saying that women will be hard hit by these cuts as they are the majority of public sector workers.

A far better alternative has been put forward, which is setting a 1-year needs budget, and using reserves and responsible borrowing powers to fund Nottinghamshire public services, whilst building a campaign, preferably with other local authorities, against ConDem brutal, ideological austerity, which they would carry on forever if they were allowed to. As I understand it, Cllr Rhodes flatly refused to consider this idea. Just one Labour council resisting these relentless attacks on public spending would give confidence to others to follow suit.

There are Labour councillors in other parts of the country who have been willing to vote against cuts, only to be suspended by their party for doing so. Proof if any were needed, that Labour no longer speaks for working class people, and, frankly, does not deserve to.

I think the ‘Fairer Deal for Nottinghamshire’, whilst well-meaning, is a pointless exercise as the government has stated time and time again that it is unwilling to steer from its ‘Plan A’ – austerity for us and even more wealth for the richest. However, the plan which I have outlined could seriously rattle it, and send a warning to Labour, which has vowed to continue with the ConDems’ spending plans should it win in 2015, that it will be resisted.

Quite honestly, the people of Nottinghamshire deserve better than a Labour council which is not prepared to fight such savage cuts to jobs and services.

Those who voted for them in the last local election are seeing them carry on from where the previous Tory council left off, doing the government’s ‘dirty work’. They must feel utterly let down, and justifiably so.

We need councillors who will properly defend the people they represent, by voting against ALL cuts in jobs and services.

If they are not able or willing to do this, they should stand aside for those who are.

Karen Seymour

Mansfield Socialist Party

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