Thursday, 21 February 2019

Brent meeting on March 14th will call for a General Election to end austerity

Brent Trades Council, Brent Momentum and the People's Assembly will be holding a joint meeting on Thursdy March 14th at the Learie Constantine Community Centre, Dudden Hill calling for a General Election in order to end austerity.  Speakers include Ronnie Draper from the BAFWU, Eddie Dempsey from the RMT, Kiri Tunks from the NEU, Sabby Dhalu from SUR and a speaker from the Peoples Assembly, Dr Aislinn Macklin-Doherty and our very own Cllr Jumbo Chan who will address Brent issues. Obviously each speaker will address one aspect of the fight against austerity-academisation, precarious workers, safety on the railways and the fight against the rise of racism.

The aim is to re-ignite a campaign against austerity and the cuts in Brent.

On Monday Brent Council will make yet another round of cuts transforming many services into a 'reactive model' which means for example, that you don't get litter picked up as a matter of routine but only when you contact the council about it, as well as the closure of children's centres and slashing environmental services.  With 60 out of 63 councillors Labour it will be interesting to see how many vote against the cuts budget.

The People's Assembly Conference back in December 2015 LINK passed a motion (below) calling for high profile resistance to cuts but this was not followed through when the Labour Party said that local councils must make 'legal budgets' and anti-cuts campaigns fizzled out as 'no cuts' budgets would have been declared illegal. Locally the anti-cuts campaign Brent Fightback died a slow death.

Conference calls for

People’s Assembly to launch a national campaign for councils to refuse to set cuts budgets this year and instead set ‘needs’ budgets based upon estimating what is actually needed to adequately maintain services and campaigning for the government to provide it.

Conference therefore resolves to

1.  Publicise and develop arguments around ‘needs budgets’ to aid activists
2.  Prepare model motions calling upon councils to set no cuts budgets for use by local anti-cuts groups, trade union branches etc
3.  Give a platform to, and amplify voice of councillors who vote against all cuts
4. In all council areas an electronic petition could be drawn up demanding councillors vote against all cuts, raising directly the issues that we face and the responsibility our elected representatives have to fight back.
5.  Rectify lack of material on PA website supporting local campaigners around council cuts, especially around the political arguments (i.e.  responding to ‘cuts have to be made’, ‘we have no choice’, ‘what would you cut instead’)
6.  Organise a national meeting for councillors, trade unionists and anti-austerity campaigners to explore how councils can resist.
7.  Compile and share information on examples of council ‘best practice’ in resisting austerity such as using reserves, no bedroom tax eviction policies, pledges of non-cooperation with the Trade Union Bill, Manchester Council opening up empty buildings to homeless etc.”
The meeting above will take place after Brent Council's cuts, some of which go into 2020-21 have been approved and implemented. How many of the above demands are still relevant?

Resistance has now become a matter of calling for a General Election before the fixed term date of May 2022. Unfortunately huge damage has already been done to child and adult care,  children's centres, and youth services and the poor have to pay an increasing proportion of rising council taxes. If Parliament runs its full term it will be hard to rebuild services.

Radical solutions to local government financing are required as well as ways of making local councils much more democratic with full involvement of all councillors,  proper scrutiny and links to community organisations and campaigns.

The full list of budget proposals including cuts ('savings') can be found HERE

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