The Conservative Government care not a jot for the people of Leicester, and, in the name of austerity, are relentlessly demolishing public services by slashing their funding of local authorities. These ongoing cuts help explain why Leicester’s Labour Council keeps making the headlines in the local newspaper for all the wrong reasons.
Today, for instance, the Leicester Mercury ran with an article, “Libraries facing uncertain future” (January 12), which announced that the Council had launched yet another consultation “to reduce the amount of money it spends running community buildings.” As the Mercury explained:
“When a similar process was carried out in other parts of the city, it ended up with community buildings being closed and sold with services consolidated in the nearest available premises. The cost-cutting has not been without controversy and in November the council ditched plans to close Belgrave Library in the face of a determined residents’ campaign.”
At the present time it seems that protests are the only thing that our Council are willing to listen to (sometimes anyway). Certainly City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and the majority of his Labour councillors are refusing to listen to the anti-austerity message of the leader of their own Party.
So it is fitting that just last week the Mercury reported on another public protest that had just taken place outside Rushey Mead library (“Campaigners protest about library move,” January 5). The newspaper noted that:
“Leicester City Council has announced proposals to close Rushey Mead library, in Lockerbie Walk, and create space for a replacement in the nearby recreation centre.”
With no sense of irony, the Mercury then went on to cite (at length) the concerns of “Rashmi Vyas, a Conservative party activist,” who was one of the organizers of the protest. But surely Mr Vyas understands that the primary reason why his local community services are under the hammer is because of the despicable actions of the Conservative Party?
But while one wouldn’t expect Mr Vyas to lead a public campaign against the Conservatives, the Labour-voters in Leicester must surely be asking why our Labour Council continues to pass on Tory cuts rather than lead a fight against such cuts.
Sir Peter sadly is busy doing other important things, like helping his big business chums gentrify our city. So rather than organise a talk about how his Council will build a campaign to refuse to carry through Tory cuts that are destroying our city, instead on Thursday 26th January Sir Peter has chosen to launch a public lecture series at City Hall with his own talk titled “Leicester’s Planning Story – the Past and the Future.” https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/city-series-leicesters-planning-story-the-past-and-the-future-tickets-30582713720?platform=hootsuite
The irony here is that the second and far more interesting planned lecture in this series of public talks is titled “Planetary Gentrification”; a lecture being delivered by the University of Leicester’s very own professor Loretta Lees — an academic who is extremely critical of both Tory and New Labour gentrification. (The professor even recently helped a London-based community group publish “Staying put: an anti-gentrification handbook for Council estates in London.”)
A Final Note on the ‘Consultation’
The buildings and services that the Council are currently proposing to cut funding from (i.e., potentially close) include the St Matthews Centre, the African Caribbean Centre, Highfields Library in Highfields, the St Peters Neighbourhood Housing office and Knighton Library, St Barnabas Library, off Uppingham Road, Coleman Lodge Community Centre, Humberstone Neighbourhood Housing Office, Rowlatts Hill Neighbourhood Housing Office, the Coleman Neighbourhood Centre and Evington Library.