Yesterday, Lewisham Council at its Budget Setting meeting, agreed a legal budget. While this involves reducing expenditure in some areas because of Tory central government grant cuts, the Labour Council kept its key manifesto promises, to freeze the Council Tax, sustain the living wage & build new houses. I made a storify from tweets and blogs from the Mayor and councillors. which tells part of the story. John Coughlin, the sole Green Councillor allowed himself the luxury of voting against the budget in the knowledge that his vote doesn’t matter. He made the comment that the Big Budget consultation was an exercise in blame avoidance; he’s wrong about that but it could be applied to his vote on the night. The Labour Party issued a web statement the day before, clearly stating that the problem is Tory central government cuts. An illegal budget will lead to Pickles appointing Commissioners, and the people of Lewisham know what this mean; it’s what Lansley did to the local NHS. Any Commissioners sent in to run Lewisham will be no more accountable to the people of Lewisham than Kershaw was when he recommended closing Lewisham Hospital. The Tories in Westminster have been cutting the grants to poorer areas since they were elected, Joe Anderson, the Mayor of Liverpool points to the latest Institute for Fiscal Studies report.
It’s all self defeating, since as said by Councillor Paul Maslin on Tuesday,
as has been known since the 1930’s, austerity in the public services during a recession, when the private sector is on its knees is self-defeating, since one man’s spending is another man’s income. And so it has proved to be under this government.
We have a chance to change things on 7th May but only if you have the vote.