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Torbay: "A tale of two towns"
Alex Moore, Torquay and south Devon Socialist Party
Torbay may be the English Riviera for the well-heeled, but for many working people it is a place of poverty, insecurity and low wages. Torbay Council in South Devon openly accepts that the further £32.4 million of cuts it has planned may result in failure to maintain statutory levels of service.
Around 70 people, including trade unionists and community organisers, attended a 'Torbay talks back' anti-cuts conference on 30 January. Opening the conference, Socialist Party member and conference chair, Nick Slater, thanked Torbay Trades Council, Torbay NUT, the Green Party and the Socialist Party for making the event possible.
In a session called 'reports from the frontline' in which local people, rather than experts, were encouraged to speak, Barrie Woods from Torbay Trades Council described "a tale of two towns with one living in paradise and the other struggling to survive."
For me one of the most telling contributions came from a community worker who carried out a primary school survey of what the children would like for Christmas and top of the list were "cheaper electricity bills", "warmer houses" and "safer parks".
Robin Clapp explained that while wishing Jeremy Corbyn the best, workers could not afford to sit aside if Labour Party councillors and others were not prepared to oppose cuts - this idea was warmly received.
A social worker in Torbay commented on hearing Robin: "It was the best speech of all , he took me right back to my days in the Militant in Derby during the miners' strike."
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