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Southampton Labour council faces crisis as cuts hit city
Despite growing anger at further cuts and continued austerity, Southampton Labour council's failure to mount any resistance to the cuts has put its majority in jeopardy.
No wonder - over £60 million cuts have been carried out by Labour since its election in 2012. Youth services have been closed entirely and a youth centre handed to charity for nothing.
Funding has been stopped to five libraries and the library bus service axed. Sure Start and adult social care have been cut, care homes Woodside Lodge and Brownhill House closed, hundreds of council workers sacked. When thousands opposed the closure of a local NHS walk-in service in Bitterne, Labour councillors voted in support of the closure.
Against this capitulation, the battle in the Coxford ward by anti-cuts councillors Keith Morrell and Don Thomas has been a beacon of hope to those looking for an alternative. On the back of the victory in saving Oaklands Pool from the bulldozers Keith and Don were re-elected by huge majorities.
In 2013 they moved a legal, balanced, no-cuts budget outlining how jobs and services could be protected and on that basis a campaign waged to mobilise the community and trade unions in a fight to restore government funding to meet the needs of the city.
Unfortunately this fell on deaf ears. Even after the election of Jeremy Corbyn and the influx of hundreds of new members to the Labour Party, the council remains on a course of further massive cuts to jobs and services.
Incredibly the latest ruse of the council has been to borrow £65 million to carry out a programme of property speculation as a way of securing extra revenue. With a new super-casino coming to Southampton it seems our future will be a speculative gamble.
The only way to maintain a Labour council is to ensure the council changes course and fights to oppose further cuts. That will not be possible with the current local Labour council leadership. Nationally, members of the trade unions Unite and Unison have decisively called for Labour councils to refuse to vote for further cuts. Such a stand would receive enormous support.
Those in the Labour Party who support such an anti-cuts position need to mobilise that support and demand a change of course by the council. Sadly the local Momentum group has provided no resistance to the right wing. Rather they have uncritically campaigned for Labour cuts councillors, including in the Coxford ward for Labour councillor Sally Spicer. Spicer has appeared in the local paper outside Oaklands Pool claiming to have saved the pool she voted to close.
TUSC is standing candidates across Southampton with a long record of actively opposing cuts. We have given our full support to anti-cuts candidate Tammy Thomas standing in Coxford and other independent anti-cuts candidates.
In The Socialist 27 April 2016:
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