People in Leicester are rightly very angry about endless budget cuts being foisted upon our city by the Tories. Visible displays of resistance that have erupted in Leicester just this month include:
- Thursday February 2: 150 people crammed into Rushey Mead Recreation Centre to participate in a public meeting to oppose the closure of their local library.
- Thursday February 9: a meeting to Save Knighton Library was cancelled at short notice after Council officers gave assurances to the newly formed group that there was no risk of their library closing.
- Friday February 10: around 150 people filled the African Caribbean Centre to express their concern about as yet unspecified planned cuts to local services.
- Saturday February 11: 2,000 marched through the streets of Leicester to protest against the threatened closure of Glenfield Heart Unit.
- Tuesday February 14: the city branch of Unison the union went public with their first-ever request for our Labour-led Council to investigate setting a legal “no cuts” budget. The setting of such a budget would serve to buy our city time to build a mass campaign against Tory austerity.
- Thursday February 16: an unusually full meeting of Leicester & District Trades Union Council met and gave their unanimous backing to a Unison motion that called upon our Labour Council to request that their finance officers investigate whether it is possible to set a “no cuts” budget (see motion below).
- Saturday February 18: residents of Rushey Mead are due to organise a public protest at the Silver Tree (opposite Sainsbury’s Melton Rd/Troon Way) from 2-3pm to resist the closure of their library.
- Finally, over the past week, an online petition that was set up to call upon our Council to prevent the closure of the Shama Women’s Centre in Highfields (by continuing to provide them with funding) managed to collect over 2,000 signatures.
So considering all these diverse and inspiring activities, it seems a logical step to try to bring together these disparate groups in a united campaign to oppose all cuts, into a powerful campaign that completely rejected the illogic of Tory austerity.
Building such a campaign against the Tories is of course exactly what Unison and the Trades Council are proposing that our Labour Council consider doing. But whether the Council choose to listen to this request is another matter entirely.
The request of the trade union movement in Leicester is simple. They would like our city councillors to ask their finance officers to investigate whether it would possible for our Council to set a legal “no cuts” budget for the next three years.
If it turns out that the setting of such a “no cuts” budget is legally possible — which Unison certainly seems convinced of — then the next step would be for our Labour Council to ask the people of Leicester if they wanted their councillor to pursue such a fightback against Tory austerity.
All Leicester’s Labour councillors have already been emailed by Unison and GMB to see if they can help in this small matter. And in the meantime, following Thursday’s meeting the Trades Council has resolved to…
- Contact local Labour councillors and union branches to request their official backing for UNISON City Branch’s “No Cuts” Budget Proposal; and then to
- Work towards co-hosting a public meeting in the near future to discuss how local service cuts can be fought.
Now let’s just hope that some of our city’s Labour councillors will be prepared to work alongside Leicester’s trade unions and community groups in at least exploring whether it is legally possible for our Council to resist Tory austerity! Now that can only be a good thing, can’t it?