Sunday, November 11, 2012

Councillors urged to join rebellion against Pickles

Labour councillors up and down the country were called on to co-ordinate for a dramatic fightback against government-imposed cuts to local budgets today. 

Grassroots Labour Representation Committee (LRC) activists have vowed to bring together party-run councils to declare war against both Tory minister Eric Pickles and cuts hawks within Labour itself at their annual conference on Saturday.

Communities and Local Government Secretary Mr Pickles is presiding over massive cuts to council budgets, which the LRC warn disproportionately hit the working class and Labour councils that represent them.

A minority of Labour councillors who have refused to support cutbacks were praised, including Lambeth's Kingsley Abrams who was suspended in June for voting to oppose cuts to jobs and services.

LRC activists warned against a right-wing mentality within Labour that is helping to push through government-imposed cuts without a fight.

And they stressed that one or two councils refusing to make cuts will not be enough to defeat the government's ideologically-driven agenda, stating that there should be "no local cuts in the name of the Labour Party."

Hull Labour councillor Gary Wareing said: "We have been trying hard to develop a strategy to fight cuts imposed on the council by this Con-Dem government.

"We need an alternative. We need to bring together a coalition of councillors and local community groups to say that what the Tories are doing is not what we want in Hull."

Labour MP John McDonnell said a date for the meeting of Labour councillors and councils will be made as soon as possible.

It comes after three council leaders wrote to Mr Pickles on Friday demanding that he come clean over what their budgets will look like for 2013/14, not due to be revealed until December.

The leaders of Labour-run Southampton, Green controlled Brighton and Hove and Liberal Democrat Portsmouth demanded to be told now so they can budget properly.

It will not be the first time Labour councillors have stood up to Tory-imposed central government cuts.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of Clay Cross dispute in 1972, when 11 Labour councillors stood up to Ted Heath's Housing Finance Act by refusing to implement increased council housing rents.

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