Activism / Austerity / Labour Party / Politics

Bradford Labour executes Tory cuts

And former Respect Councillors support them.T&A2014-02-21CouncilCuts

  • An audio report from the Council chamber is in preparation and will be added to this posting ASAP.

CapWhy are we so well-mannered when we encounter attacks on the poor and disadvantaged? It is bad enough a Labour Council forgetting the “guilty and proud of it” legacy of its Poplar predecessors, but when even the five former Respect councillors support Labour spinelessness and few opponents bother to turn up to make their views known from the public gallery, the Labour leader David Green can be content that he has got away with it again.

Much was made by Green and other Labour speakers of the 15,000 responses to its phoney “consultation” process, in which electors were invited to choose what should be cut, with no “none of the above” option, but it was notable that he gave the Council no breakdown of the responses, and how Labour had – or, more probably, had not – accepted them.

He gave no clear lead to the public on how it should mobilise to get the Tories out.

He said that people would have to completely re-think what they expect from a council in the next few years.

“Bradford, like other Northern cities and districts has been disproportionately hit by central Government cuts,” he said.

“The cuts they are making will make the idea of a local authority unsustainable in the future.

“The choices the people of Bradford are having to consider are unpalatable, and damaging to the economic and social fabric of the district.

“The progress we have made over the years in schools, social care and other areas is being damaged by the slash and burn approach of the Department for Communities and Local Government.

“None of these proposals are ones we would make if we were masters of our own destiny.

“What we need to do is recognise the threat to local government being imposed by Whitehall.

“The status quo is no longer an option. We will need to have a grown up debate about what services people expect from a council and how we can deliver them.

“But we also have to make sure people know that if they want local services delivered by a local council for free, they will have to stand up and make their voice heard. When we have that debate I assure people we will listen to them.”

Conservative group deputy leader, Councillor Simon Cooke, said: “We shouldn’t be charging people more money for less service. Critical services should be available in every community. We need to make choices about what is essential and what is just nice to have.”

Liberal Democrat group leader, Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, acknowledged it must have been difficult for the Labour group to draw up a budget in the face of such cuts, but she said: “The starting point for this budget is so far from where we would want to be, and there are so many things missing from it like the number of empty homes.

“I’m not able to support this.”

A single cry of “Shame!” from the public gallery greeted the concession from Councillor Alyas Karmani, leader of the Bradford Independent Group, formerly the five Respect councillors, that the group backed the budget.
“I’m against austerity,” he said, “but this is the best of a bad job. If we were in that position we’d be making exactly the same decisions.”

Green Party leader, Councillor Martin Love, said they would not be supporting the budget. But he added that cuts to local government could not be stopped, no matter who took power after the 2015 General Election.

The budget was supported by 53 votes for, 26 against and six abstentions – giving Labour a majority of 27 for the Government-imposed cuts.

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