Posted by: iangilbert | June 28, 2013

No agreement on spending cuts

My collgeaues are complaining I haven’t blogged for a while. Here’s a letter I’ve just written to the evening Echo in response to Nigel Holdcroft’s comments in today’s Echo.

Sir,

It’s always amusing when a politician implores opponents not to play politics, whilst simultaneously playing politics themselves, as Councilor Holdcroft has done (Echo Friday June 19th). Councillor Holdcroft is being completely disingenuous in saying that Labour has accepted the George Osborne’s cuts to local government in 2015/16. I’ve never known any political party spell out spending plans in detail two years before a general election, and we certainly have not done so.

What we have done is acknowledged the obvious, that thanks to the disastrous effect of the Conservatives’ policies on growth and investment, there will be less money in total to go around, and it would be foolish to make promises now about what we may or may not be able to do after two further years of Conservative failure. Any additional spending that we wish to make will have to be found from somewhere.

I would suggest a few decisions that could be made to put money back into frontline services without the need to borrow an extra penny. Stop government money going into ‘free schools’ where there isn’t the demand for extra school places. Axe the role of ‘Police and Crime Commissioner’ and all the bureaucracy that surrounds them. We could stop the pointless and damaging reorganisation of the NHS. We could reverse the Conservatives’ tax cut for millionaires, and ask bankers to pay a fairer share. All of these options and more are being actively considered and could be used to put money back into local services.

Councillor Holdcroft should also remember that this spending review is a result of failure. Two years ago George Osborne said “We have asked the British people for what is needed, we do not need to ask for more.” Exactly as predicted, George Osborne’s policies have sucked the growth out of the economy, so  he now comes back to ask for more cuts.

Labour councillors will play a constructive part in budget discussions, but we will not be co-opted to support the Conservatives’ vicious and self-defeating agenda.

Yours sincerely,
Ian Gilbert

Leader of the Labour Group, Southend Borough Council

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