“Let them DEFINITELY NOT eat cake” (It’s Budget Day)

Cake Head
Cake Head 2016

As George Osborne was busy announcing his latest austerity budget, described by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as having “unfairness at it’s very core- paid for those who could least afford it”, Sedgemoor Tories were busy fending off attacks on their own budget from the Labour opposition.

Labour Leader Cllr Mick Lerry (Bridgwater Victoria) moved a motion which attacked the “damaging social effects of the Government’s austerity measures” and “ the cuts to local Government finance, which are affecting this Council at a time when local Government is facing increasing demands on its services.”

Cllr Lerry asked the Leader to write to Local MPs and LGA asking them to lobby for the following changes to local Government financing: “i) Remove the Council Tax cap. 2) Give the Council the freedom to extend Council Tax bands. 3) Re-direct further funding from Central Government to Councils. 4)Give Councils the freedom to set their own Council house rent levels, 5) Allow for higher levels of prudential borrowing,5) Removal of the cap on the Housing Revenue Account. 6) Government should not introduce a levy or council house tax on Councils to fund the right to buy sales for Housing Associations. 7)That the retention of 100% Business rates does not erode Council funding in the future”

Tory Leader Duncan McGinty 'Quiet day at the office'
Tory Leader Duncan McGinty ‘Quiet day at the office’

“This is just what Governments do” say Tories

Responding to the motion Tory Leader Cllr Duncan McGinty (East Polden) said “Oh dear dear, it must be a quiet day at Labour head office as this sounds like something put together locally. I don’t approve of this scattergun approach and would much rather the members opposite came and talked privately to myself or the Deputy Leader but coming along with proposals like these to full council meetings really doesn’t do it. We may not really wish to go back to the Local Government excesses of the 1990s-which is why the then Labour Government brought in the Cap to control things. Don’t wish too hard for things because they might one day happen. You have to realise that this is just what Governments do.”

Labour calls to ‘defend Local Government’

"...there won’t be any local Government in 10 years time.” Labour Deputy Cllr Brian Smedley
“…there won’t be any local Government in 10 years time.” Labour Deputy Cllr Brian Smedley

Labour Deputy Leader Cllr Brian Smedley (Bridgwater Westover) said “I am disappointed that the Tory leader takes the attitude of just accepting what Governments do because Local Government is clearly under attack and if we don’t stand up to that attack by bringing alternative proposals to discuss now then there won’t be any local Government in 10 years time.”

The Labour motion was massively defeated by a wall of Tory arms, the solitary Lib Dem not supporting and the 2 Kippers staring blankly at each other as if wondering what they were even doing there.

Speaking after the meeting Cllr Smedley said “The Tories have unveiled more plans to slash council funding to the bone. The cuts will make life unbearable for the most vulnerable ¬people—and hurt millions more.Children’s centres,Libraries will close. People with mental health problems or who are homeless will find it harder to get help. This is an ideological project and not just about money. It’s about getting businesses to run council services and hollowing out local democracy. Tory minister for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, boasted last week, ‘The devolution of power and resources from Whitehall is gathering momentum’ and admitted that central government grants to councils ‘will disappear altogether’. Yet in 2010 these grants represented nearly 80 percent of council spending. This has meant even more outsourcing—leading to worse services and attacks on workers. Without serious resistance nationally, this is now set to get much worse.”

National campaign against council cuts needed

Labour Leader Mick Lerry gets the final word of advice from Head Office on how best to 'lay into Sedgemoor Tories'
Labour Leader Mick Lerry gets the final word of advice from Head Office on how best to ‘lay into Sedgemoor Tories’

Labour Party shadow chancellor John McDonnell has pledged to “launch a national campaign over council cuts and mobilise communities” . He argued that unjust anti-union laws should be defied and pledged full support for the junior doctors taking on Jeremy Hunt.

Disabled People Against Cuts (Dpac) activist Ellen Clifford attacked the Tories targeting of benefit claimants and disabled people. She applauded the support Corbyn and Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell have given Dpac. But she argued, “Disabled people don’t have another five years to wait for a Labour government. We have to unite, disobey and resist now.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) warned of a bleak future. “Even if councils stopped filling in potholes, maintaining parks, closed all children’s centres, libraries, museums, leisure centres and turned off every street light they will not have saved enough money to plug the financial black hole they face by 2020.”

Council budgets face a £4.1 billion a year black hole. This follows a reduction of 40 percent in the last five years. That is a 79 percent cut in government funding for councils since the Tories came to office in 2010. And by the end of this parliament they plan to axe the central government grant altogether.

Cllr Smedley added “George Osborne has again pushed the brunt of cuts onto local councils.That means excessive  council tax increases, adding hundreds of pounds to council tax bills in places that have never previously made increases. Sedgemoor is choosing to be complicit in this”.

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