Cuts debate is stifled (Letter in Birmingham Mail)

An edited version of this letter was printed in the Birmingham Mail yesterday:

Dear Editor

Can I encourage your readers to go to the final City Council budget consultation meeting on Tuesday 18th. They should ask Albert Bore if his May 2012 election pledges are being implemented. One of Albert’s pledges was

“Ten of thousands of new jobs and apprenticeships” (emphasis in the orginal) but in October he announced and repeated yesterday at the Yardley consultation meeting is that he is making redundant a thousand people in the Bham City Council.

However they should be warned about serious shortcomings in the conduct of the meetings. At the Erdington meeting a local resident Ron Dorman suggested the meeting be chaired by an independent chair rather than Albert Bore. His concern was amply justified when instead of consultation we were subject to one hour 15 minutes of a monologue from Albert Bore. Then supplemented by 20 minutes of prolonged replies to questions in a meeting a little longer than 2 hours. At last years budget consultation meetings there was an independent chair, short presentations from the platform with a wide variety of different approaches to the cuts presented and in 5 out of the 8 meetings motions from Birmingham Against the Cuts were debated and in all cases passed with large majorities. No such broad democratic debate was allowed at the two meetings which took place yesterday and no consideration of the Birmingham Against the Cuts motion circulated in writing to all participants was allowed.

No other political groups on the Council were invited to present their views on the City budget.

The motion Birmingham Against the Cuts requested was discussed was as follows:

This meeting calls on the City Council to defy the government pressure to destroy or privatise our services, and to set a budget based on the needs of the citizens of Birmingham

We were subjected to a monologue of Labour Party propaganda supporting drastic cuts in services for children and disabled people from Albert Bore. No one would deny that Albert could present his views on the budget since he is leader of Council, however other political organisations should have been invited to present their views and motions presenting viewpoints on the cuts should have been heard and voted upon. The banning of motions took place despite the fact that introductory slide for the meeting referred to discussion and debate.

Another question to be asked is why there was only 4 meetings this year rather than 8 meeting last year? It was also noticeable that the meetings in the local areas, Erdington, Cotteridge and Yardley are predominantly white areas. There was no consultation in areas like Handsworth, Sparkbrook and Saltley where many ethnic minority communities are based. Albert appeared with 4 other cabinet members all of whom are white!!

Stuart Richardson

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3 Comments

Filed under Birmingham City Council, Cuts

3 responses to “Cuts debate is stifled (Letter in Birmingham Mail)

  1. Mike Harrison

    Until we have an opportunity to throw out the tory government we do have to deal realistically with the sadistic cuts that they are making. But we need to make sure that cuts are made with regard for those least able to afford them. We need much greater citizen participation in setting the budget, as per the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre: http://www.participatorybudgeting.org.uk/

  2. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » Cuts debate is stifled (Letter in Birmingham Mail)

  3. I agree the Tory (controlled) government needs throwing out but Mike Harrison’s comment of 18 December conveniently and completely ignores the fact that Labour is forcing through massive cuts programmes at local government level which are hammering those least able to afford them. In that sense, Mike Harrison refuses to acknowledge that it is Labour that is doing much of the Tories’ dirty work and surely anti-cuts activists need the Mike Harrisons of this world like a hole in the head.

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