Harrogate Borough Council offices
Harrogate Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) had a letter published in the Harrogate Advertiser (April 17) under the heading “Councillors have responsibility”.
We highlighted that councillors do have a choice and do not have to accept budget cuts from central government. Councillors should set a budget which meets the needs of the local community, while mobilising a mass campaign to demand that the government makes up any shortfall in funding.
Councillors have responsibility
Anne Boodt is right to say (letter, April 10) that the Tory/Lib Dem Coalition are responsible for savage cuts. Local government budgets have been slashed and councils will have lost 43% of their funding by 2015.
However, I think it’s letting councillors off the hook to say that they bear no responsibility for the cuts and they just have to meekly accept budget reductions from central government. Councillors do have a choice and can refuse to implement any cuts and instead, set a budget which meets people’s needs. The council can use their reserves and prudential borrowing powers to fund jobs and local services in the first instance, while mobilising the community in a mass campaign to demand that the government makes up any shortfall in funding.
There are also legal powers available to the council to fight privatisation and oppose any transfer of public services to private bodies. This includes using councils’ powers to refer local NHS decisions, initiate referenda and organise public commissions and consultations in defence of public services.
However, refusing to implement the cuts and defending local jobs and services requires the requisite political will. All the main parties and UKIP are ideologically committed to cuts, privatisation and austerity. For these establishment parties, the price of the bankers’ greed and speculation has to be paid for by us, with pay freezes and cuts to our council services.
The Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) is standing over 500 candidates across 85 local authorities in the forthcoming local elections, including Harrogate. TUSC candidates are standing in defence of public services and against cuts and privatisation. The establishment parties tell us that “there is no alternative to austerity”. It’s time that we had councillors with the political will to provide a real alternative and put the needs of our community before the interests of bankers and big business.