Eight years of Austerity has hit the small town of Burton-Upon-Trent hard with more people now feeling its effects in a town where mainstream politics can sometimes feel like it’s passed us by Writes William Walker - Secretary East Staffordshire Trades Union Council
Right at the start of the Conservatives time in office under the coalition we lost the area's secure mental health facility because of funding cuts. The disgraced Tory MP Andrew Griffiths told everyone in Burton that he would fight for the centre yet he voted for the very cuts that ultimately lead to the centres closure. Now patients and their families face long journeys in order to get the care they need.
There are two further examples that have brought the issue of austerity to people's attention in Burton; the closure of the magistrates court and the Burton and Derby Hospital merger.
The magistrates court had been open in Burton for generations yet was earmarked for closure by the Ministry of Justice as part of cuts to the service. Like the mental health facility before it, the closure of the court has left a town of 75.000 people without access to justice.
The much larger Derby Teaching Hospital has recently taken over by Burton hospital as a consequence of the Governments attacks on our NHS. This move we are told will improve care at both sites and will give access to new treatments and initiatives. But it was a move that seems financially unsustainable with the business plan setting out a blueprint for cuts to services which will include emergency stroke patients having to travel down the A38 before they can get care.
Eight years of Tory austerity has turned Burton into a low wage town. Industry has been replaced by warehouses, distribution centres and un-unionised workplaces. Meaning that low wages and zero hour contracts are now rife. Eaton ward in Burton is in the top 10% of the most socially deprived wards in the country and further wards Anglesey, Shobnall, parts of Horninglow, Winshill and Stapenhill are in the top 20% according to a report by the Office of National Statistics.
The Campaign group End Child Poverty has conducted research which reveals over 6,192 children in the Burton parliamentary constituency are living in poverty. This coincides with food bank use rocketing and homelessness previously unseen in Burton is now rife with the voluntary sector providing support and services to the homeless stretched to capacity because the Local council has cut the budget to zero.
Attacks on Council funding has now lead to leisure centres in the town being outsourced and school crossing patrols slashed.
Staffordshire schools are also facing a £12.2 million funding cut between 2015 and 2022 according to the school cuts website.
Disgraced Burton MP Andrew Griffiths described Burton as Burton as “booming” but in reality is that this town is buckling under the strain of austerity and with universal credit still to come to Burton the situation will only get worse unless austerity is brought to an end.
Burton-on-Trent will be part of the Nationwide Tour. We will release the tour dates very soon.