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Harrogate Socialist Party members and supporters of the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) campaigned in the town centre yesterday for a ‘people’s budget’ that would defend our local services and stop the council cuts.

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The cuts are having a devastating impact on our community, both in Harrogate and across North Yorkshire.

Social care

North Yorkshire County Council are to cut £880,000 from the “respite care” budget which provides help to disabled children and their families. Respite care is a vital service, with carers visiting households to look after disabled children and providing families with a break from what can often be demanding caring responsibilities.

Youth services

61 youth workers have been made redundant by North Yorkshire County Council, as part of an overall £22 million spending cut in 2015/16. TRAX youth centre, which offered support and advice to young people in Harrogate, is to close and be replaced by “drop-in sessions” at local churches!

Fire services

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service have proposed a number of cuts to local fire services, including a reduction in the number of fire-engines, no guarantees around redundancies and replacing full-time fire-fighters with volunteers and part-time, retained staff.

Housing

Only 310 houses have been built by Harrogate Borough Council since 1980 yet nearly 2000 people are on the council house waiting list in the district. The Borough Council will have an underspend of around £1.4 million from 2014/15 and by councillors’ own admission are “flush” with reserves. However, instead of meeting Harrogate’s housing needs, the council is to set aside £1.8 million for new council office buildings.

A so-called “alternative budget” proposed by the Liberal Democrats on the council, called for the setting up of an “arms-length company to deliver affordable housing.” In other words, to increase the very same private provision of housing which has created the housing crisis in the first place!

A people’s budget for Harrogate

Paul Viney, Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) candidate for the High Harrogate ward, says: “Councils have a choice and do not have to pass on the cost of central government cuts to our communities. I believe that Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council should set a ‘people’s budget’ which defends local services and meets the needs of our community. Both councils should refuse to implement the cuts, using their reserves and prudential borrowing powers in the first instance. This would provide the time to build a mass campaign across the region to demand that central government meets any shortfall in funding.”

In regard to Harrogate’s housing crisis, Paul says: “The average house price in Harrogate is £264,574 which is 12.5 times the average income of £21,225. Private landlords are raking in huge profits, while nearly 2000 people are on council house waiting lists and 50% of new households in Harrogate are unable to afford to rent or buy in the district. I am campaigning for a mass programme of council house building, rent controls in the private sector, the setting up of council-run not-for-profit letting agencies and bringing all housing association stock and housing services back in-house.”

If you would you like to help with Paul’s campaign for a ‘people’s budget’ in Harrogate and North Yorkshire, please contact harrogatesocialists[at]gmail.com

For further information about TUSC, see: http://www.tusc.org.uk

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