Occupation and Demonstration Greet Labour Councillors Meeting To Vote On Budget Cuts Proposal

feb 4 demo (2)The Labour group met yesterday to agree internally their budget proposal which accepts the £110m of cuts to the council budget as a result of the Tory coalition slashing central government grants. The full council meets on Tuesday 26th February to discuss and vote on the proposals put forward. In protest at the cuts and the Labour group’s decision to implement them on behalf of the Tory coalition, 20 people occupied the council house balcony from lunchtime until 6pm, and a demonstration of around 200 people marched up New Street to the council house where the meeting took place. There was coverage of these actions in The Birmingham Mail and BBC Website.

Balcony Occupation Banner Hungbrumprotestor balcony photoAs well as the Labour Group meeting yesterday, there was also the announcement from Eric Pickles that the cuts in government grants would be larger than previously expected. The cut will rise from 25% to 33%, widening Albert Bore’s jaws of doom (the amount that will be missing from the £1.2bn discretionary budget by 2016/7) from £600m to as much as £700m. With councils around the country rolling over and implementing these cuts without any apparent resistance, can it be any surprise that they have been targeted for more? The question must also be asked, if the cut increases further, to 50% or 75% or even completely, will there come a point when Labour turn round and say no, we are not going to do this?

Bham Against Cut 4th Feb Brian Sheridan (4)Bham Against Cut 4th Feb Brian Sheridan (7)

These were just the start of actions calling on the Labour group locally to defy the cuts and set a needs budget – doing this would delay any cuts by months as formal procedures are worked through, could lead to central government reducing or reversing cuts to meet the budget demands and would provide a solid point of resistance to cuts, increasing the pressure on other councils and the national Labour party to oppose cuts and austerity, rather than supporting the idea that there can be fair cuts or that cutting slower would be a good thing.

Any cut in spending during the worst recovery in over a century will have a negative impact on the economy, as we have seen over the past year where zero growth and high unemployment have caused the deficit to rise.

Instead we should be implementing alternatives to cuts – closing the £120bn tax gap, borrowing to fund Keynesian investments in zero-carbon council housing, oil free public transportation and renewable energy resources, scrapping Trident, taxing the bankers who caused the crisis and the richest 1% of people in the country who have seen their wealth grow hugely over the past few years.

Bham Against Cut 4th Feb Brian Sheridan (8)

Bham Against Cut 4th Feb Brian Sheridan (5)

Between now and the next council meeting there will be events, actions and of course plenty of leafleting happening as we seek to draw some Labour councillors out to stand with their colleagues who have formed Councillors Against The Cuts, and to support our city and its people. On Tuesday 26th February there will be a day of action, starting with a picket of the council house from 12:30-1:30 before the council meeting starts at 2pm. Civil disobedience actions are being planned around the city centre throughout the afternoon to highlight particular cuts and the alternatives. There will be a mass demonstration in the evening.
Please invite your friends to this facebook event, and join us in the fight against austerity.

With thanks to Brian Sheridan, Brum Protestor, Geoff Dexter and Ben Hewitt for the photos.
More photos from the balcony and demonstration available on Indymedia

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7 Comments

Filed under Alternatives to Cuts, Events

7 responses to “Occupation and Demonstration Greet Labour Councillors Meeting To Vote On Budget Cuts Proposal

  1. Jim Chee

    how exactly does Birmingham City Council save money by scrapping Trident. i didn’t realise we had our own nuclear deterrent?

    • We are calling on councillors to join the fight against austerity. It is the national government that is deciding these cuts and so therefore it is policies at national level which need to be focused on as alternatives.

      Scrapping Trident would not save BCC any money directly obviously, but it would save money that could be used to reduce the deficit instead of making cuts. So scrapping trident would reduce the cuts at BCC.

      So we call on the councillors to join the fight for these alternatives, rather than implementing cuts – it is simply not possible for BCC to make savings to cover the size of these cuts internally, any real alternatives must come from national government.

      • Jim Chee

        that’s not a reply- just worn out rhetoric. no sane person wants Trident to be replaced but to hold it up as a way of saving jobs and services her is just plain silly. like the zero carbon housing (how expensive is that!) and the oil free public transport (what powers this transport ? electricity? which comes from???) most amusing is the idea of a self styled revolutionary group calling for Keynesian investment. make your mind up whether you are asking for a social democratic economic policy or this mish mash of eco-trotskyism

        • It’s “just plain silly” to suggest that if government spending is being cut we could cut spending on trident rather than on services, thus protecting jobs? Not that many people are employed in Trident in comparison to its cost, the largest costs of it are the nuclear weapons and submarines. The billions spent there would generate more jobs spent elsewhere and these services would continue. I think this is very straightforward.

          “self-styled revolutionary group” Please can you find posts on this website where Birmingham Against The Cuts describes itself as a revolutionary group. Some of our supporters/supporting groups are revolutionary, others are not. As a broad campaign group we seek to work with all people and groups who oppose cuts, whether they are revolutionary or social democratic.

          The suggestions around zero carbon housing and oil free transportation are to illustrate what form a keynesian investment could take. Electricity is generated from many sources and as far as I know oil is not used to generate electricity in the UK.

          The expense of building the housing is kind of irrelevant, given that (a) spending money is part of the point, (b) we need to build new housing anyway to meet the needs of a rising population and (c) we need to replace our old housing stock with environmentally efficient housing in any case.
          The question that needs to be asked about the expense of these infrastructure projects is not how much they cost but how much we should spend on them to stimulate the economy.

          • jim chee

            No, how much they cost is a relevant question. School urgently need rebuilding and refurbishing in the city, and yet the old Building Schools for the Future scheme was riddled with inflated costs and profiteering . keynesianism isnt just about pouring money into any investments – look at the appalling system-built social housing of the 60s.

  2. Pingback: Birmingham Trades Council » Occupation and Demonstration Greet Labour Councillors Meeting To Vote On Budget Cuts Proposal

  3. Pingback: It’s Time To Shut The City Down – Day Of Action Against Council Cuts, 26th February | Birmingham Against The Cuts

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