People’s Assembly Scotland calls for ‘widespread social movement’ against council cuts
The People’s Assembly Scotland is calling for a widespread campaign to back councillors who abandon ‘austerity denial’, urging them to show ‘political leadership’ in defending local services from Scottish and UK government cuts.
It has issued a pack for unions and community groups with a statement of principles, advice on street stalls and lobbying, and a model letter to councillors.
Phil McGarry, chair of the People’s Assembly Scotland, is calling on councillors to be honest about how cuts are damaging services: “We are calling for councillors to abandon austerity denial and be up front about cuts and the damage they are doing. They should publicly label cuts as ‘this service withdrawn due to austerity’
“We recognise that in order to take a stand, councillors will need broad based support and this initiative aims to build that at grassroots along with trade unions and other progressive bodies.”
In its ‘Local Government Budget Cuts 2016/17’ statement, the People’s Assembly calls on councillors to explore “all legitimate avenues” to mitigate, alleviate and oppose austerity cuts. These include measures like issuing bonds to raise funds more cheaply; refinancing PFI and other debts; campaigning for a debt amnesty for historic debt and using reserves.
Keith Stoddart, secretary of the People’s Assembly Scotland, added: “The current situation in local government is untenable. Local democracy has been systematically undermined through the council tax freeze, centralisation of policing and fire services, massive fettering of councils’ control over the school estate and centrally set teaching numbers.
“The current council tax freeze is unsustainable, and the council tax itself needs overhauled. We do believe that a property based tax is an important element of a progressive approach to council finance.”
The campaign does not rule out more radical action like unbalanced council budgets or raising the Council Tax but warns that this would be ‘counter-productive and damaging’ unless there is a widespread social movement working with councillors pursuing an anti cuts strategy in direct challenge to the Scottish and UK governments.
The campaign pack is available at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/…/PeoplesAssemblycouncilc…