Trade unions representing Coventry City Council workers launched a campaign on Saturday 16th February against proposed cuts in council spending. The highlight of the launch was a mock auction of the Council House itself, which faces the threat of closure due to the cuts and privatisation of local services.
Trade unions representing Coventry City Council workers launched a campaign on Saturday 16th February against proposed cuts in council spending. The highlight of the launch was a mock auction of the Council House itself.
The mock Tudor building was constructed between 1913 and 1917 but was not officially opened until June 1920 due to the aftermath of WW1. There are some parts which are medieval, such as St. Mary’s Hall, but some of the original building was destroyed by German bombing during WW2.
Why should there be a mock auction? The logic is simple. If the proposed cuts are carried out – in 2013/14 it will be £28m instead of the originally anticipated £14m and over three years more than £60m will be cut – there will be no need for a Council House as services will have been privatised or cut back so far that there will be nothing to administer.
If there is nothing for the Council to rule over, why do you need a Council House, or for that matter Councillors? The proposed cuts – some 800 jobs have already been lost from the biggest employer in the city and another 800 are to go – will decimate local services and jobs. The more you cut, the more you have to cut as jobless people find it hard to pay Council tax yet they need more benefits. So, in addition to cuts, the whole reason for local “democracy” will disappear and local councils run the risk of being wiped out.
This is a recipe for a downward spiral in a race to the bottom and the only ones who really suffer are those who rely most on Council services – working class people, the poor, the needy and the marginalised. All of those who traditionally support Labour will be hit by cuts carried out by a Labour Council.
We know that Labour Councillors did not put themselves forward as political representatives of local people in order to carry our cuts. Yet the political response of the “dented shield”, of damage limitation, means carrying out cuts to try and minimise their effects, will have the same outcome. Those in most need will suffer most. As the old saying goes – the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
If you accept the logic of capitalism, you have to accept the policies of the Coalition who say that cuts are necessary to maintain confidence in the money markets. So the needs of financial spivs and speculators are more important than the needs of ordinary people.
The Council House was eventually “sold” to the highest bidder for just over £1,000 – an absolute bargain. I wanted to make a bid but did not have the cash. I did however wonder that if I had borrowed the money from the banks to be able to make a bid and was then in a position where I could not pay back the loan, could I have applied to the Council for a bail out so that in effect I could have bought the Council House with money from the Council? Just a thought!
Coventry trade unions will now follow up this launch with a city-centre march and rally next Saturday, February 23rd. The Council will vote on its budget on Tuesday, February 26th. The choice is clear. You either bend the knee to the Coalition cuts or you stand up for local people by defending their needs, and that also means fighting against a system that demands cuts.