From the Socialist Party Wales website and also being distributed as a leaflet on stalls in Bangor. Although the leaflet focuses on Gwynedd, the gist of it applies to many other Welsh councils at the present time.
Plaid Cymru-led Gwynedd council is howling and raging over the recent low spending increase given to it by the Assembly government. This comes on the back of a low settlement from Westminster to the One Wales (Plaid Cymru and Labour coalition) Assembly government.
The council’s response has been to complain but do nothing to oppose the cuts, and instead has passed them straight on. The council are now making an extra £4-5m worth of cuts on top of already making £4m worth of so called ‘efficiency savings’. Closures and mergers of schools have been the big headline grabber in the area, but so has the ending of funding to the Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery in Bangor. There are also expected losses of 300 jobs and a day centre for the elderly is set to close in September, as well increases in parking charges and a 4.8% rise in council tax.
The cuts have provoked resistance. At the moment it is quite scattered, although there was a 600 strong protest against school cuts outside the Council’s November meeting (see below). Protests and campaigns against some of the other cuts have happened or are being set up. However, some of these are arguing that the cuts should come from elsewhere in the budget.
The Socialist Answer
Socialists however, demand that there should be no cuts to services. The Socialist Party in Gwynedd is calling on the council to set a needs budget. Decide what our communities need, better schools not school closures, better cultural facilities (museums, theatres) etc., and then set a budget based on the needs of the community not the demands of Gordon Brown or Rhodri Morgan. If they can find billions of pounds to bale out Northern Rock then they can find billions to keep community schools open and decent accommodation for the elderly. But the council has to mobilise a mass campaign together with other local authorities in Wales and in England to force them to do it.
Such a campaign would follow the heroic example of the Liverpool Labour Council from 1983-7, who forced Thatcher to return millions of pounds she’d stolen from the city in funding cuts.
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