Statement to Salford City Council

Salford Against the Cuts notes with alarm recently announced proposals to cut Council spending by approximately £47 million in the next financial year. Council Leader John Merry has already stated that this is likely to result in 800 job losses over the next 12 months. This is on top of proposals to reduce spending on Connexions services, which assist young people to find employment or education by 46.5%.

We believe that such cuts will have a devastating impact on public services in Salford and on the lives of the people who depend on those services. We also believe the economic impact of these cuts will mean comparable job losses in the private sector.

Salford Against the Cuts is opposed to all cuts and will campaigns against any attacks on jobs or services. We do not believe ordinary people should suffer for the greed of the bankers or the desires of politicians who support a system that allows a few to become incredibly wealth at the expense of everybody else.

We recognise that Salford Council did not make the decision to propose £45 million worth of cuts. We fully understand that the primary responsibility for these attacks lies with the Conservative – Lib Dem coalition in Westminster. That is why we wholeheartedly support the TUC March for Jobs, Growth and Justice on March 26th and - echoing recent statements by UNITE General Secretary Len McCluskey and PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka - nationally co-ordinated trade union action to defend jobs and services. However, Salford Council is elected by the people of Salford to represent us and defend our interests and that is why we have produced this statement.

We must accept that there will always be a divergence of interest between the trade unions and the city council. However, though we may disagree on some issues, it is essential that we work together to end the ConDem assault on working people. Salford Against the Cuts, the Trade Unions, Community Organisations and Salford Labour Group must campaign together and coordinate action and activity where possible to inflict the maximum damage towards the Coalition government.

We call on Salford City Council to do the following:

1.    Support the TUC Demo for Jobs, Growth and Justice on March 26th – We call on the Council to provide practical and financial support to build for this demo and to ensure it is a big success in telling the Government that the people of the UK will not accept their cuts agenda.

2.    Defend Housing Rights. Support the Open Letter on Housing signed by Austin Mitchell, Chair of the Council Housing Group of MPs and supported by others including John McDonnell MP and Ken Livingstone. This letter calls on Councils to:
·         Defend security of tenure for existing tenants
·         Campaign against cuts in housing benefit
·         Oppose, and where practical refuse the allow the eviction of tenants who struggle with rent because of such cuts
·         Oppose raising rents up to 80% of market levels
·         Campaign for a programme of investment in new and improved council housing at genuinely affordable rents.

3.    Extend support and assistance for advice and representation services, such as Salford Welfare Rights and Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre, so that those who suffer as a result of cuts in the welfare state are able to properly challenge any decisions.

4.    Provide renewed support for the “Keep Hope Maternity Open” Campaign, in their fight to keep fully resourced, comprehensive maternity services at Hope Hospital.

5.    Issue a press statement alerting the public to the impact the cuts will have, explaining where the responsibility for them lies, and calling on local people to mobilise alongside MPs, councillors, the trades unions and community organisations and campaigns such as Salford Against Cuts to defend our public services.

6.    Moving/supporting a motion to the next Council meeting which condemns the Government's huge cuts programme, which points out what the Government is doing in terms of the rolling back of the welfare state but has no mandate for, which explains that these cuts are not necessary and are not supported by the Council, and which argues that the government should not make ordinary people responsible for the cost of the bank bailouts.

7.    To help organise meetings with Salford Against the Cuts in each Ward to explain why the cuts are taking place and to call upon local people to mobilise against them, in particular in the next few months working towards securing the largest possible turnout of Salford residents to the 26th March “All together for public services and jobs" demonstration called by the TUC in London which will take place the weekend before the Chancellor’s next Budget speech.

8.    Contacting other councillors in the region, and around Britain, with a view to organising a National conference of local Council representatives which would discuss and agree on what tactics can be practically used by local Councils and Councillors to best collectively frustrate the Government's plans on a regional and national level, and how these tactics might be linked to regional and national  actions by the wider anti-cuts movement