Campaign for a Sheffield Peoples Budget says 'end the Amey tree-cutting PFI'
A well-attended Campaign for a Sheffield Peoples Budget public meeting on Monday sent a clear message to Sheffield's Labour council ahead of their budget setting meeting on Friday 3 March: 'Labour council, grow a backbone. Stand up to Tory cuts!'
Around 40 local trade unionists and community campaigners heard speeches from Clare Goonan (PCS union, Save Eastern Avenue Job Centre); Julie Marsland and Stella Garnham (Unison, Save Hurlfield View); Tim Jones (Sheffield Mental Health Action Group); Chris Rust (trees campaigner); Pete Davies (GMB union at Veolia and Amey); and Neil Carbutt (Fire Brigades Union).
They all explained the effects of Tory government imposed austerity cuts on the most vulnerable people in Sheffield, but were also scathing about the Labour council passing on these cuts without any resistance.
There is an alternative
Sheffield People Budget meeting, February 2017 (Click to enlarge)
Proposing an alternative Peoples Budget to the meeting, the Sheffield TUSC election agent Jeremy Short said "Labour councils do have a choice, they can use reserves and borrowing powers to offset Tory cuts whilst building a mass campaign to restore funding. Instead of passing on cuts to local people, they should be leading a fight back against Tory austerity".
Jeremy added, "colluding with the multinational Amey company and the police to use anti-trade union legislation to arrest pensioners protesting against tree-felling is the inevitable consequence of not fighting the cuts and going down the privatisation road. Our services are being sold off and corporations are running the city on 25-35 year contracts".
The meeting agreed an alternative No Cuts Peoples Budget which included:
* Scrapping the Bedroom Tax
* Bringing the Veolia waste management contract back in-house
* Terminating the Amey Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and bringing Highways back in house with suspension of tree felling
* Keep Hurlfield View open (¬£300,000), the last specialist respite centre in Sheffield for people living with dementia
* Restore the Mental Health Action Group Sheffield day centre funding (¬£10,000)
* Keep Sheffield Central Library
* Introduce a ¬£10 per hour minimum wage for council employees from 2018
A protest lobby against the cuts will take place outside the Town Hall on Friday 3rd March, at 1pm, ahead of the council's budget setting meeting.