Bristol mayor Marvin Rees on BBC Points West
By Mike Luff, Bristol Unison member, personal capacity
Bristol is facing a massive attack on its jobs and services, with a rapidly capitulating newly elected Labour mayor and its Labour controlled council. The Mayor, when challenged on the television that he was elected on an anti austerity platform, surprised the interviewer saying by saying “NO”.
Proposed cuts include the halving of bus subsidies, charges for users of dementia service, fees for disabled parking bays, handing over parks from Council control, cuts in museum hours, reduction of lollipop controls, ending of companion bus passes for carers, library service closures and some removal of short term help for paying bills – the list goes on. This amounts to £27 million cuts for 2017/2018, and then there is a further £65m cuts by 2020. Even the Mayor describes his proposed cuts as “horrifically unpalatable”.
This is in addition to 1000 full time equivalent posts being cut, one sixth of the workforce over the next few months. This will inevitably lead to hundreds of compulsory redundancies. No service closures have been announced, so we are likely to see reductions in services. As a Regional Unison officer said ”the cuts in jobs are not sustainable at such thin levels”. Services will easily collapse.
On the day before these announcements, the Anti Cuts Alliance, BADACA, met with Mayor Rees. We gave a clear way forward to build a mass popular campaign of trade unions, communities and campaigns from across the city, which would strengthen the demand for the return of our money from this weak Tory Government. By using reserves, prudential borrowing, the cuts can be frozen legally for a period, during which such a campaign can be built. This could act as a beacon to other authorities to build a national campaign to defeat the Tory government cuts.
The excuse given for not trying to build such a campaign was that it would weaken negotiations with the government! The fact that such an approach has been used and failed over the previous years is conveniently forgotten. On the following day, Sajid Javid, the Local Government Secretary visited Bristol and was asked about the government funding, he said “What I say is local government are looking to use their money more efficiently and having to make savings”.
Jeremy Corbyn has visited Bristol supporting Rees on a number of occasions during the election campaign stating “the message of opposition to austerity”. Jeremy has to face up to those who are undermining the general election campaign of an anti austerity government by carrying out the Tory cuts.
Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance public meeting
Report back of meeting between BADACA and Mayor Rees
7.30pm, Monday 17th October
Tony Benn House, 92 Victoria St, BS1 6AY
Come to the meeting and hear a full report back of the discussion between Marvin Rees representatives of BADACA. We will also be discussing how we can resist this latest round of swingeing cuts.