Labours Kathrine See attended the full Somerset County Council meeting yesterday to represent West Somerset Labour and question the Council again, in the fight to save the areas Children’s Centres.
After the meeting Kathrine commented “It was an extraordinary experience to hear Conservative cabinet member after member blaming cuts in Government funding, to the Council, for the devastating loss of services across the County. They seem to ignore the fact that they voted for, support and are the local representatives of, this Conservative Government. They have actively chosen to inflict austerity on the people of Somerset and the appalling low levels of social mobility in West Somerset are entirely their responsibility.”
West Somerset was recently ranked 324th out of 324 on the social mobility index meaning that children growing up in the area are less likely to do well at school, less likely to go to university and less likely to get a well-paid job, when compared to their peers nationally.
Several members of the public and union representatives asked questions at the Full Council meeting, on subjects ranging from public transport, Learning Disability support, Health Visiting and the Park and Ride. The theme of each was the same, cuts, cuts and more short sighted and crippling cuts. Similarly, the responses from Cabinet Members were also depressingly similar, claiming that they don’t have the available funds to pay for the services in the same way they have previously been provided, due to cuts in spending from central Government. However, when Councillors were given the opportunity to ask the Government for more funding, thanks to Cllr Leigh Redman’s motion to improve the wages of public sector staff all, but 2 Conservative Councillors, voted against.
Councillor Redman’s proposed motion calling on the Council to ask government to support a decent pay rise for Council staff & fund anything above the already budgeted 1 % was supported by LibDem Cllr Liz Leyshon.
Kathrine concluded “I find the sheer hypocrisy staggering. To continue the mantra that you want the best for the people of Somerset but then to actively refuse to ask their own Government for more money to pay a fair wage to our essential public-sector staff. My only hope is that the people of Somerset will rise up and punish them in the polling booths”.