As the Council Tax levels for 2013/2014 are pushed through in council chambers around the country, there are increasing signs of rebellion among Labour Party councillors. A website http://councillorsagainstcuts.org has now been set up with a founding statement by councillors from Hull, Broxtowe, Welwyn Hatfield, Aberdeen, Todmorden, Southampton, West Lindsey, Basildon, Cardiff, Chepstow, Rotherham, Flint, West Sussex, North Lincolnshire, Stoke-on-Trent, the Isle of Wight, and Barking and Dagenham. A contact email address firstname.lastname@example.org has been set up and messages of support have been flooding in from councillors, trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners.
The next step is to mount a fight-back through a national organisation capable of standing up to the Coalition government. Councillors across the country have expressed concern about the damage being done to local services by the 28% reduction in local government budgets. It is now time to stand together and pressure the Local Government Association to confront Eric Pickles, the Tory Communities Secretary and demand more money.
Until now, Pickles has been able to intimidate local councils with the threat to send in commissioners to set budgets if his interpretation of local government legislation was not observed. But now the full effects of the reduced local authority budgets are obvious. Services have been reduced and council workers have been sacked. If action is not taken now, local government services may never recover from “coalition government blight”. Individual councils may be picked off by Pickles, but a group of councils are not so easy to defeat.