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24 March 2020

Newham campaign set up against council cuts and tax hikes

Back in the mists of time, on 6 March, in the days before Coronavirus was dominating everything, local residents in Newham came together to organise opposition to the budget that had just been agreed by the Labour council.

The budget, proposed by Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz - allegedly a 'Corbynista' - includes 45 million worth of cuts, an annual increase of 3.99% a year in council tax, and a proposal to start charging residents for parking permits.

Newham has one of the poorest populations in Britain, but its council, which is 100% Labour, has more than 500 million in useable reserves.

The meeting - which included many Labour Party members along with Socialist Party members and others - agreed to set up a campaign 'No to First Car Permit' opposing all the planned cuts and tax hikes.

Now, in the age of Corona, the campaign is more important than ever. Countless Newham residents are facing huge losses in income; this is not the time for a Labour council to increase taxation.

What is more, far from making cuts, the council needs to be urgently spending more in order to take emergency measures to care for the vulnerable in the borough.

The campaign's plan to lobby the council in person has had to be put on hold, but Tahir Mirza, chair of East Ham Constituency Labour Party, has written an open letter to the mayor calling on her to withdraw the council tax increase and parking review, and the campaign has launched a petition calling for this alongside reversal of cuts and emergency spending on coronavirus:

Hannah Sell, East London Socialist Party