Local Councils

Beating the Tories after 6 May

The Tories’ narrative about where they are taking UK politics and society is dishonest and incoherent. But it is a narrative, one strongly honed and consistently argued for. In contrast the leadership of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party seems to have pretty much nothing to say about the kind of society or even the policies it wants. That is surely an important part of why Labour suffered such serious defeats on 6 May. Attempts by the Labour right to claim the problem was the party not being right-wing enough must be “forensically” dissected and vigorously opposed. Already the Starmer leadership had...

After 6 May, renew fight against Tories and cuts

Thursday 6 May sees elections for 143 councils covering the majority of England; the Scottish and Welsh parliaments; the London mayor and assembly; a number of other mayoral and police and crime commissioner positions; and the parliamentary by-election in Hartlepool. The local elections are for seats last contested in May 2016 (when Labour did poorly) or in May 2017 (when Labour did very poorly, though it recovered quickly between then and the June 2017 general election). So it shouldn’t be hard for Labour to show some gains. Yet Labour’s campaigns have been deeply uninspiring. A focus on NHS...

Using the local elections to fight for workers' rights

Edd Mustill (pictured right) is an NHS worker and GMB trade union activist who is standing for Labour in the Graves Park ward of Sheffield city council. He spoke to us about his campaign. My ward – which I also live in – has a long history of Lib Dem councillors so I’m unlikely to win. I’m standing to get a decent vote, but also to raise issues, build our Labour Party branch and get more people active as campaigners. I was selected a year and a half ago, and I planned to run a campaign based on extensive voter contact, with lots of door-knocking and discussions. Obviously, events intervened...

Salford Unison pushes care workers' charter

Salford’s local government Unison branch was the first to win the right to full isolation pay for all care workers in their council area, a victory that triggered others in the North West. Now they have put a series of care workers’ demands to candidates in their local elections: 1. The Foundation Living Wage (currently £9.50/hour) for all Salford care workers. 2. Holiday pay based on normal wages. 3. Sleep-in pay at the Foundation Living Wage rate. 4. Occupational sick pay for all Salford care workers. 5. Publicly delivered social care. 6. A strong voice for workers, those in receipt of care...

6 May: Vote Labour, push for a fighting policy

The English and Welsh local elections on 6 May have featured a lack of discussion about policies and politics. The virtual destruction of local government is continuing at speed; but there is little mention of it in the election campaign, let alone real debate. The vote is mainly being treated as a national referendum on the parties’ popularity, but with little discussion of their national policies on local government or anything else. At a national level, the Labour leadership has offered no theme other than a limp appeal to present 6 May as a chance to “send a message” to the Tories on NHS...

Win on disability rights

Disabled people’s organisations have scored an important victory as the government has announced that local councils will no longer be excused from meeting their social care obligations. A year ago, the Coronavirus Act included provisions for councils to apply for “easements”, under which they would not have to provide assessment and care under the Care Act. Eight councils had used this provision, including — shamefully — two Labour councils. But campaigners had objected throughout the year and their pressure has finally been rewarded. This follows the withdrawal late last year of the...

Send in the commissioners?

Despite Thatcher being Prime Minister, the BBC still managed to get away with making socially relevant dramas in the 1980s. A particularly memorable one was United Kingdom, a play by Jim Allen, which imagined a Tory government sending in Commissioners to take over a town in the north of England

Thurrock council pay cuts

Council workers in the Unite union in Thurrock, Essex, will strike from 13 April to 7 May, excluding 3 May. The workers, including refuse workers, highway maintenance, and street cleaners, face pay cuts of between £2,000 and £3,500 per year. • Donations to the strike fund can be made to: S/C 60-83-01, A/N 20216557, Name: Unite 1/1152. Messages of solidarity can be sent to willie.howard@unitetheunion.org • More on the dispute in Tribune magazine

Fighting council cuts in Nottingham

Labour-run Nottingham City Council have voted to make £15.6m cuts this year, leading to 272 job cuts, 5% of the workforce. They also want to raise council tax by nearly 5%, and are dipping into reserves to balance their budget. But they face resistance from council unions and determined pockets of the community to the proposed cuts, particularly their proposal to close John Carroll Leisure Centre in Radford, one of the most deprived parts of the city. Before the vote was taken, Nottingham City Unison set the proposals in the context of recent history: "£271m in budget savings since 2010 has...

Further cuts in SEND provision

Many councils across the country — the National Audit Office estimates over two dozen — are negotiating with the government for bailouts to make it possible to balance their 2021-22 budgets. Cuts in school special needs and disabilities (SEND) spending are among those demanded “in return” by at least five councils. Details for Bury, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kingston upon Thames, Richmond-upon Thames and Stoke on Trent have been published on the Department for Education website and reported by Schools Week. Some councils now promise to meet special needs in a “more cost-effective way within...

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