Nottingham City’s Labour Council are not very progressive when it comes to public transport. This was evidenced by their recent decision to stop disabled people from having access to free weekday travel on buses and trams between 11pm and 9.30am.
Jean Thorpe, one of the organisers of a vibrant protest against these brutal cuts (which was held late last year), and who is also chair of the Nottingham branch of UNISON, explained to the Nottingham Post (September 3):
“I think it is disgusting. We would like them to reverse the cut immediately. This cut will simply save £100,000 which is a small amount of money but the impact it will have on people who have a bus pass is big.
“It is a massive attack on the disabled.” (“Protest held against cuts to free bus and tram travel for the disabled”)
But Nottingham’s Labour Council already had a track record of campaigning around transport issues in way that ends up punishing the working-class. Thus in 2012 they introduced a workplace parking levy whereby businesses “with 11 or more parking spaces in Nottingham city centre are charged £415 per space per year.”
When Nottingham was first “consulting” on introducing these regressive charges — which we now know are fobbed off onto employees in the form of pay cuts in 80% of cases — the local UNISON city branch was vigorously opposed to the idea of such a regressive levy. As reported at the time:
“Jean Thorpe, Nottingham branch chairwoman of Unison, said: ‘The charge means a 2.1% pay cut. Members are up in arms about this. It is disgraceful. The facility to park should be freely available to staff.’
“Thorpe said many employees had to drive to work because of their personal situations while others started work from 5am, before the bus services started.” (“Unison hits out at Nottingham WPL,” April 1, 2011)
Unfortunately, here in Leicester, our recently re-elected Labour City Mayor doesn’t care too much about introducing policies that benefit the working-class. And, so in a recent radio interview, Sir Peter Soulsby boasted that introducing a Nottingham-styled levy in Leicester was a “radical” feature of his local election manifesto?!
Socialists in Leicester call upon Labour Party councillors and the Mayor to fight all cuts to services, and to help build a united fight-back against Tory austerity to ensure that our city gets the money that we need to run an amazing public transport system that meets the needs of ordinary people not the needs of big business. The very last thing our Council should be doing is introducing a workplace parking levy!