“THE fight is just beginning.”
That is the message from rebel councillors taking a stand against savage cuts imposed in Southampton.
This week, the Labour-controlled city council rubber-stamped savings worth £16m – with the axe falling on 234 jobs, tax breaks for pensioners, youth services and children’s centres.
But Councillor Keith Morrell and Councillor Don Thomas, who have split from the Labour party in protest at the cuts, say the “dismantling”
of services in the city is only just beginning.
Councillor Morrell, who represents the Coxford ward, said: “Next year the council is going to have to find another £20m worth of cuts, the year after that another £20m.
“They’ll be making the same size cut out of a diminishing budget so the impact next year will be twice as bad as this year.
“Next year, probably libraries will be closing, Sure Start Centres will be closing, more youth services will be closing.
“The campaign to try and stop that happening starts now.
“It’s central government that is responsible for cutting the funding to local authorities but as far as I’m concerned Labour councillors were elected in the expectation they were going to be different from the previous Conservatives.
“However, the new Labour administration is simply carrying on from where the Conservatives left off in cutting back on local public services and local jobs – so they bear a responsibility too.”
The pair are now working to form a local group so that they can field anti-cuts candidates across the city during the next election.
Councillor Morrell has also called on trade unions to do more to oppose the job losses and cutbacks.
He said: “A lot of union members want their unions to be doing more.
“The trade unions were instrumental in getting Labour elected and I think there’s a lot of disappointment among their members that Labour isn’t delivering.
“Labour promised to protect services, to protect jobs and to protect services and obviously they’re not.
“There’s a lot of union members who are angry, frustrated and probably unsure where to go – they put their faith in Labour.
“The trade unions should be doing more, if only to reflect what their members want from them.”
Meanwhile, Unite has told the Daily Echo it has no current plans for action but is consulting members.
Regional co-ordinator Ian Woodland said: “Any action is for our stewards to decide.
“We’ll always make our position clear to the Government that we’re opposed to the cuts in local government.”
More stories on the council cuts