Similar stories are being told in Nottinghamshire County, and in Derby and Leicester.
The question is what can be done? One thing we can see clearly is we now have Labour Councils in the City and County in Notts both poised to make ordinary people pay for the so-called economic crisis and ‘deficit’ through imposed ‘austerity’. All we are being asked to do is help them choose what to cut, or to increase cost to users, so there will inevitably be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, while the big bad central Libdem-Tory coalition government is blamed. Clearly the councils are lobbying hard for more money, even to the extent mounting an East Midlands-wide campaign to highlight existing serious problems of deprivation.
Since the broad-based group that launched Notts SOS and this website (and the regular newsletters) is no longer operating, we have a fragmented set of left-wing currents in Notts who believe, for the most part, that the best way to effect a change is through the ballot box, either the Labour Party (and Green Party) supporting ‘People’s Assembly’ or the TUSC and Left Unity coalitions who are standing candidates in the General Election. There is an overlap between TUSC and the Bedroom Tax campaign that has challenged the City Council over its implementation of this (hopefully soon to be doomed) very nasty public housing policy. PA have also opposed bedroom tax evictions, notably that of Tom Crawford. and were also delighted by Notts County Council’s vote to support a ‘Jarrow March’ last year for the NHS, going through the North of the county (berating the ‘no’ votes from coalition councillors). Others have been picking up the pieces of the cuts by running Food Banks, such as the NG7 one at the Sumac Centre (which recently stopped operating).
So what’s next if (and almost certainly when) most of these cuts or cost increases are enacted? Will getting tied up in the General Election publicity show be any use? It really seems a broad campaign without the baggage of party politics is needed more than ever in our region, to oppose austerity from the grassroots and to increase the use of direct action.
Here is a list of threatened services in Nottingham City, from the consultation website (most with a view to increase costs to individuals who use them, plus job 240 cuts and a council tax increase of 1.95%):
– Reviewing charges for Adult Social Care – Introducing an average contribution of £20 a week for around 250 citizens receiving Care, Support and Enablement services
– Increasing Fees and Charges Review of charges for Adult Social Care Proposals: Day Care from £5 to £12 per day, transport to Day Centres from £5 to £8 per return journey, Jack Dawe from £17.50 to £22.50 per hour
– Reducing case management capacity in the Youth Offending Team
– Removing vacant posts in Youth Provision
– Reviewing Sports and Culture fees and charges
– Increasing cost of school meals from £1.75 to £1.80 per meal
– Changing day centre and residential care provision
– Children’s Centres – Expanding opportunities for schools to use children centre buildings, while maintaining Children’s Centre services to the community