Thursday, 6 January 2011

Anti Cuts Meeting in Weston - Letter to the Mercury

This letter was published in today's Weston Mercury

I am writing on behalf of Weston and North Somerset Trades Union Council to invite all readers of the Mercury and the North Somerset Times to an Anti-Cuts meeting at the Salvation Army Hall, Carlton Street, Weston super Mare on 12th January 2011 at 7 pm. The Weston and North Somerset Trades Union Council, is made up of a number of trade unions including public sector trade unions representing postal workers, civil servants, teachers, rail workers, local government, further education, housing and health workers. We want the people of Weston and North Somerset to join us in an Anti-Cuts alliance to fight the unnecessary cuts to public spending, which are being imposed by the Coalition government.

We are asking the people of Weston and North Somerset to attend the meeting to talk about how the public spending cuts are affecting jobs, families and communities in the area. We are asking people to attend who already are or will be affected by the cuts to the education maintenance allowance (EMA), the increase in student tuition fees, the changes to how pension and benefit increases are calculated, the VAT rise, housing benefit and disability benefit cuts, changes to child tax credits, cuts to the arts, cuts to the police, cuts to the NHS, cuts to library services, children’s services, and services for the elderly and disabled. Just before Christmas North Somerset Council announced that their financial position was worse than they had expected, and that they now have to make £17.4 million cuts in the first year of 4 years of cuts, now amounting to a total of £47.2 million or 31% of their budget. In our view it is just not possible to cut such a large amount of money without it impacting on front line services.

At the meeting people will be able to hear teachers, youth workers, library assistants, social workers and other public sector workers talk about how the cuts will affect the services they provide in North Somerset. We also want the people of North Somerset to tell us how the cuts are affecting them, and we will be discussing how we can create an alliance of groups and individuals who don’t want to see their public services decimated, and who are prepared to fight the cuts. Weston and North Somerset Trades Union Council believes 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.

We believe that there is an alternative to the cuts, and that rather than slash funding for public services, the Coalition government could reduce the deficit by bringing in legislation to close tax loop holes and tax havens. There is potentially £100 billion per year out there in uncollected taxes. The Robin Hood tax, which is a tax on financial transactions could bring in £20 billion a year. Add in the £104 billion cost of Trident and the budget deficit of £175 billion would be more than wiped out. Quite simply we believe that the government ought to tax the banks and other financial institutions that caused the recession, instead of cutting public spending, which hits the poorest hardest. It seems very odd to us that we are constantly being told we’re all in this together, when it is also made abundantly clear on a daily basis that we are not. We ask the people of North Somerset to attend the public meeting on 12th January and join us in our fight against the cuts.

Helen Thornton
Weston and North Somerset Trades Union Council
3rd January 2011

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