Anti-cuts People's Budget planning under way in Leicester
Barbara Potter, with young campaigner, photo by Ambrose Musiyiwa (Click to enlarge)
On the last weekend in October around 60 people gathered to participate in Leicester's first ever People's Budget conference.
The event was organised by Leicester Independent Councillors Against Cuts - Barbara Potter and Wayne Naylor - alongside TUSC. The two councillors left Labour this year to join TUSC's alliance of trade union and anti-cuts groups.
As Barbara told the conference, "Leaving the Labour Party was a big thing. All my family have always voted Labour. They're no longer the party who stick up for ordinary people. We all need to stick together - the People's Budget marks an opportunity to create something new".
A series of workshops formed the basis of an alternative budget based on residents' needs. In contrast, Leicester's cynical Labour council is 'consulting' on escalating austerity.
A conference workshop gets down to details, photo by Ambrose Musiyiwa (Click to enlarge)
Wayne voiced frustration over Labour's pressure to accept vicious cuts. In his ward 800 rely on food banks. He is now adamant that "the city needs councillors who will fight and make a difference. People's needs must go before anything else".
Everyone who contributed with such enthusiasm to the People's Budget was encouraged to stand for election with TUSC next year.
Support from Southampton rebel councillor
A message of support was delivered to the conference by one of the Southampton rebel councillors, Keith Morrell (see http://www.tusc.org.uk/press180213.php ). "It is difficult to stand against the establishment", he said, "and it can be isolating". Along with the support the rebel councillors' stance generated from the local community, it was TUSC's backing that gave them much needed confidence.
Southampton rebel councillor Keith Morrell, speaking, with Barbara Potter and Wayne Naylor (right), photo by Ambrose Musiyiwa (Click to enlarge)
Also attending the conference was TUSC national chairperson Dave Nellist, the former Labour MP who subsequently served 14 years as a socialist councillor in Coventry. Dave said "it doesn't matter if the cuts are carried out enthusiastically by the Tories, or with a heavy heart by Labour. When services go, people suffer. TUSC refuses to accept that there is no choice".
For Leicester this is just the beginning. Now work begins on writing the People's Budget - and building the forces that can fight for it!
The Leicester People's Budget work in progress will be publicly discussed on 1 December at the Brite Centre, Braunstone Avenue. For more information, email Caroline Vincent on [email protected]
To check out the Leicester Independent Councillors Against Cuts website, go to http://licac.moonfruit.com