Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Anti-Cuts Meeting, 17th February, 7.30 pm at the Blakehay Theatre, Weston super Mare

The Weston and North Somerset Anti-Cuts Alliance is holding a public meeting to discuss the cuts to public services and the impact they will have on every single citizen of North Somerset. The meeting will take place on 17th February at 7.30 pm in the Upstairs Studio at the Blakehay Theatre, Wadham Street, Weston super Mare. We are asking people to attend who are affected by the cuts to the educational 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. North Somerset Council are about to make £17.5 million of cuts in 2011/12, including cuts to services for some of our most vulnerable groups including older people, people with physical and learning disabilities, children and young people, people with mental health issues, people fleeing domestic abuse, refugees, and homeless people. In addition recent proposals for our National Health Service demonstrate that the Coalition government plan to dismantle and privatise it. A similar thing is happening with the Academies programme, where the state school system will effectively be privatised and will no longer be accountable to local people and local councillors. In addition schools converting to academies are taking with them funding which is currently used by the local authority to provide services for our most needy students, such as those with Special Educational Needs, emotional and behavioural difficulties, psychological problems, and childhood cancers.

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. 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 Coalition government do not have a mandate 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, and a Robin Hood tax, which is a tax on financial transactions could bring in £20 billion a year. 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 and most vulnerable the hardest. The Coalition government’s mantra is that ‘we are all in this together for the national interest.’ But for us it is the Anti-Cuts organisations springing up all over the country, which are acting together in the national interest by defending our public services which provide support and protection to our most vulnerable citizens, and look after every single one of us from cradle to grave. This was the idea behind our grandparents founding of the welfare state, and as their descendants we must do all we can to protect it. We are asking the people of North Somerset to attend the public meeting on 17th February and then join us in our lobby of North Somerset Council’s budget setting meeting on at 5.30 pm on 22nd February outside the old Town Hall.

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