Fight the County Council cuts, but pick our battles; save our libraries

Standard

Another round of cuts has been announced by the council, and another attack on our public services is being rolled out – well enough is enough, let us throw a spanner in their works and save our libraries.

We won’t be able to stop all the cuts at once, the only way to do that would be a change of administration in Parliament, and in local government – even then it would take weeks, months or even years for the budget and the policy to trickle down, arguably you wouldn’t start feeling the effects until the next financial year (by then it could be too late).

We need to be against all the cuts, but if we fight to stop all cuts we run the risk of stopping none. We have to pick and choose our battles, and we have to fight the battles we stand a chance of winning. Otherwise we are setting ourselves up for failure and the more long term negative effect of demoralisation. If we win small battles, if we win some battles and reverse some cuts, it weakens the position of cuts, and it strengthens our own hand, it makes us feel empowered, and when we are empowered, we are strong.

Chip away at the cuts, slowly but surely undermine the position through a series of smaller victories. The cuts to libraries is a battle we could win, it has been won before, and it can be won again. Why? Because it effects so many different people, it brings together a community, and they can galvanise around it, it is tangible – it is in your face. It should be the focus, the vanguard in our war against the local cuts.

We have to put forward the position that we are opposed to the cuts in principal, but if we spread ourselves too thin, the message is more diluted, and it is harder to get a tangible victory. Focus all our energies and resources on a single campaign, like libraries, campaign around stopping the closure of the libraries, while having the general anti-cut message in the background and at least then we stand the chance of claiming a victory.  Even if the only victory we end up claiming is stopping the closure of the libraries, we will have made a difference to a community. There are other positives as this helps create the campaigning infrastructure for future battles, the community links that are needed in any campaign, provides valuable experience and helps empower people.

So how do we move that forward?

1. A county wide response
Unity is strength, if the library campaigns are isolated they are easier to defeat – their needs to be a county wide response, a coordinated effort. Local groups need to be linked up and supporting one another in the communities battle to save their library

2. Raise awareness
People can’t get angry about something they don’t know about, we need to use all the available methods to raise awareness, social media campaigns, stickers, posters and petitions. Every possible way to raise awareness has to be explored, and the more innovative the better.

3. Protests
We love us a good protest and as part of a wider anti-cuts strategy it can play a pivotal part of showing our strength, and the opposition towards the closure. These can be at council meetings, and outside our libraries, and of course a speaker or two would be great.

4. Direct action
If we are going to draw a line in the sand and so no closures, we have to do more than a two hour protest, and we have to do more than a petition. We have to make it politically impossible for them to close the libraries, these means getting wider community support, but it also means making it as difficult as possible for them. Direct action has to be the way forward, occupy our libraries, carry out read ins, make it colourful, make it fun, make it innovative but most of all make it engaging so that more people get involved in the campaign.

5. Local support, local led
These campaigns have to be led from within the community or they will fail, every community has unsung heroes, and leaders waiting in them. If these campaigns are not coming from within the community, they won’t succeed, identify local leaders, and have as many local people not just involved in the campaign, but running the campaign as possible.

Get angry, get involved, get organised – save our libraries!

Advertisements

County Council: Death By A Thousand Cuts

Standard

Lingchi was an an ancient Chinese torture method which is more widely known in the west as death by a thousand cuts, a torture method this council seems to have adopted as its model for local government policy.

Make no mistake that sooner or later people will die because of the butchering of our local services, make no mistake that people are already suffering under the brunt of the county councils new torture regime.

This is an ideological restructuring of local government, the Tories have already committed themselves to destroying the state on a national level, and now their cronies at a local level are going full steam ahead with this ideological mission in their destruction of local services.

Removing lifelines for some and completely changing the face of our local services, is of course spruced up with fancy words like “efficiency savings” but regardless of what words they use to make these cuts more palatable it will never disguise them from the cold hard reality, and when reality bites believe me people will be angry.

Earlier this year the County Council agreed to outsource all its services, and now it is going to be cutting a further £77 million from its budget, no doubt they love to gamble with the future of our town, sadly the only losers in this will be us, the people of Northampton.

As it was reported the budget “Proposals include a reduction in children’s centre services, a reduction in funds for the fire service and highways maintenance, a cut in the subsidies given to the bus services, the cessation of Nourish school meals service and decommissioning two care homes run by Olympus Care Services.”

Just how much more do they think the people can take? Just how much more of this burden do we have to shoulder? We were never responsible for the recession, yet time and again we are the ones footing the bill.

These cuts, like the cuts at national level are being billed as the only way, that there is no alternative, but this is pure political posturing, there is always an alternative. When these cuts continue to hammer home just keep one thing in mind, there is but one group of people to blame for them; The Conservative Party.

We are now locked into a race to the bottom, and who knows where it will end? No support for young people, no care for the elderly? Just how far are they willing to fall, and how much suffering are we going to have to endure?

Instead of a council with a commitment to slash and burn, how great would it be to have a council committed to helping the people? To homing the homeless, to protecting those that need it, to investing in the future of the town.

Because that is the alternative, investment, investing in the future instead of planting the seeds of this towns suffering, creating revenue outside of tax. We are expected to believe that outsourcing and businesses (which we will be paying to carry out these services), will be more efficient.

Well why is that the case? Instead of throwing money at private companies (making them very rich), surely the brilliant minds in government can operate these things as good, if not better. Instead of them being operated for the profit of private companies they should and could be operated for the improvement of the town, for the benefit of the people.

The governments in post war Britain recognised this, that is how they dug their way out of a 200% deficit, through investment, through public ownership, and ultimately through a commitment to helping people, instead of cutting them piece meal.

Just how much more can the council take? How much more can we take?

What are your views on the cuts? Are you afraid of the future? Let me know in the comments.

Northampton Council – Poverty not Politics.

Standard

You should be angry, you should be blood boiling red mist descending mad because of your council, they have shown us just how much contempt we are held in by the ruling Conservatives.

What controversial issue am I talking about? What hot-topic must I be approaching? Why the very controversial issue of child poverty, you know that controversial debate we all have over whether we think it needs to be stopped or not? No me neither.

We (well you, I would rather die than vote Conservative because it is a death sentence in it self) have to shoulder some of the blame, we returned not only a Conservative party nationally but also locally.

It really says something when you not only have a national government but a local one that doesn’t seem to think ending poverty is an issue that needs addressing. Putting aside the destructive and death sentence policies being enacted at a national level, our local representatives have gone full throttle on it too.

It really says something about the sadistic and ugly character that they must have if they seem to think it is ok that a child goes to bed at night hungry, it really says something about their nature if they do not give a shit that we are struggling to survive, getting thrown on the streets and where does that end?

It is like they just want us to roll over and die, at least that way their poverty figures would go down right? If all the poor people just jolly well went and died. It sickens me that these people make decisions over our lives, because they clearly do not give a shit what happens to us.

You might be reading this thinking “well I don’t give a monkeys, poverty doesn’t effect me” – Well it does, we all breath the same air, inhabit the same space, we all have to walk past each other on the street. You cannot hide from the many faces of poverty, it is that widespread that soon you won’t even be able to walk on by blissfully ignoring the deprived state of your fellow human beings.

You can try and shift the blame onto others, you can say it is the people in poverties fault that they are in that position (god the media like you to think that way, don’t they?). It still doesn’t change the fact that we live in a thing called society, and supposedly we live in a civilised one at that, so whether you like it or not the ugly hydra of poverty will sooner or later come back to bite you.

The ruling conservative council seem to think tackling poverty is a “political football” and that they are already doing enough to stem the rising tide of deprivation and starvation which is growing like a cancer within our communities.

We live in a county where poverty is on the rise, where 1 in 4 children live below the poverty line. What upside down logic brings you to the conclusion that if something is getting worse, you are doing enough?

The ruling council are either incompetent, lying or do not give a shit that it is happening – because if poverty is RISING whatever they are doing clearly is not WORKING.

Write an angry letter (best British way of dissent), go out on the street and let your anger known to your councillors. DO NOT STAY SILENT ANY LONGER, they take our silence for compliance and we cannot take this lying down. Get out on the streets, do some actions, create a community network and take our future into our own hands because left in theirs we may as well be signing our own death warrants.