5 November 2012
TUSC councillor’s ‘defy cuts’ challenge to Labour
THE TUSC-backed Walsall councillor Pete Smith has sent the following letter to the local media challenging the borough’s 28 Labour councillors to take a stand against the cuts:
Councillor Bird, leader of Walsall council (under Con-Lib control), has challenged Cllr Oliver and his Labour Group to put forward an alternative budget if they are unhappy with the one likely to be forwarded by the Conservative- Liberal coalition in control of Walsall council at the crucial February council meeting. Cuts of £13m are proposed for 2013/14, with £73m cuts over the next four years.
I challenge the 28 Labour councillors to join me in opposing any budget that includes cuts to jobs or services. If the council's £millions of reserves and/or the possibility of prudential borrowing is insufficient to make up for the shortfall in government grants coming to Walsall, then the budget should be voted down. There are enough councillors to do just that. Then the message will be loud and clear to the government: "if you want cuts to jobs and services in Walsall, then come and do your own dirty work! We, a majority of councillors refuse to pass a cuts budget".
This may well, should it happen, result in the council's monitoring officer having to inform the government that a balanced budget has not been passed in Walsall, resulting in the Council's Finance Chief being instructed by the government to make key financial decisions. However, the councillors would still be there, in office, representing the people in their wards.
If every Labour-controlled council across the country took this action, there would have to be a massive rethink by central government and an inevitable change of policy.
So my challenge to Walsall's Labour councillors is this: instead of shedding crocodile tears about the cuts and then moving an amendment at the February council meeting to restore just a few of the cuts yet by implication, going along with nevertheless £millions of other cuts, take a much bolder approach. Refuse to vote for any budget that entails cuts to jobs or services.
The people of Walsall need to be made aware that given the present balance on Walsall council, where 31 councillors are not part of the controlling group of 29, a cuts budget, that will see jobs and services reduced yet again, can only get through if 28 Labour councillors allow it to go through.
Councillor Pete Smith,
Democratic Labour, Blakenall ward
Councillor Pete Smith was elected in Walsall’s Blakenall ward in May this year with 1,025 votes (45.8%) against 1,012 for the Labour candidate and 201 for the Tories. He is a member of the Walsall Democratic Labour Party, part of the TUSC coalition.