Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Anti-Cuts Public Meeting - report in the Bristol Evening Post

We must resist 'savage' spending cuts, say unions in Weston-super-Mare

Support is growing in Weston-super-Mare over plans to lobby North Somerset Council over drastic cuts. In the comprehensive spending review last October the Government revealed a multi-billion pound reduction in spending was required in the UK. As a result North Somerset Council must make £47.2 million in cuts over four years, with £17.4 million in cuts in 2011 alone.

The Weston and North Somerset Trades Union Council met this week to find out how cuts are affecting people in the area. It urged supporters to lobby North Somerset Council's Full Council meeting on January 18, February 22 and attend a TUC march in London on March 26. Residents were also asked to write to councillors and MPs.

Nurses, social workers and teachers spoke of their anger at the cuts and said residents must make a stand. Toni Mayo, a social worker, warned the cuts would affect the safety of children. She said: "It's going to be difficult to keep children safe without health visitors and children's centres. "This is a national problem, which requires a national fight back. "We are what keeps this country going, we provide the services and we are in a strong position to fight back."

Nancy Powell-Brace, 51, a teacher at Worle Community School, said: "What is most worrying is they are coming for our children and in education we are becoming barren and going back 20-years. "I don't want to teach anymore and watch what's happening to teaching in schools; we are going back to the dark ages. "I never thought I would live to hear the day I would take action but if it is going to make a difference to the cuts then I would chain myself to railings."

The meeting heard how library services across the district will be affected. John McLorinan, library assistant at Weston library, said: "The mobile library has ceased its rounds in Weston. "Congresbury library is now manned by volunteers, Backwell library is gone and Banwell library is possibly going to close. "Now we are faced with these cuts and we think our jobs will be looked at we will be downgraded with less pay and eight to 10 jobs will have to go. "We will be replaced by self-service machines. "Now they are also introducing revised charges, up 2.5 per cent and there are now daily late charges on children's books of 10p per book. "We are working harder, stress levels are phenomenal and staff morale is very low. "We have got to get out and make a noise on the streets."

North Somerset Trades Union Council branch secretary Helen Thornton said the council could use its £7 million reserves if it chose to in order to avoid cuts. She said: "Vulnerable people are going to be at risk and we believe it is not possible to cut such a large amount of money without it having a major impact. "In the first year the council will lose 130 full-time jobs and the council's future intentions make it clear that they will be operating with a significantly reduced workforce – this could amount to losing 25 per cent of its workforce over the four years of cuts. "We are seriously concerned about the council's ability to deliver services with such a reduced workforce. "We believe that the Coalition Government's savage spending cuts will hit the poorest hardest, will slow down the economic recovery, and increase unemployment. "We believe that the cuts are not an economic necessity, but are politically motivated. "The majority of people in the country did not vote for such savage cuts delivered at such speed. "This is a weak government, and we the people, if we protest, can get them to change their minds, or even get rid of them. "We've done it before with the poll tax, we can do it again."

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