Just three weeks to go before Calderdale has to set it’s budget, and finally a Conservative councillor has decided to comment on the budget proposals. I refer of course to Councillor Andrew Feathers splenetic offering, “cut non-jobs, not services” in the Courier on Wednesday 9th February.
Sadly, but not unexpectedly, he generates a great deal of heat but little light in offering real alternative ways of filling the fifteen million pound gap in Calderdale’s budget which is the direct results of the grant cut policies of the Conservative-led Government.
Let me pick up just a couple of points.
Firstly, he criticises proposed increased in charges. But the public response to the budget consultation was very clear with most people saying that reasonable increases in charges were preferable to further cuts in services. The budget proposals envisage about two million pounds in total being raised through charges, out of the fifteen we have to find. I invite Councillor Feather to identify how much he would reduce this by, and where he would find the money instead.
Secondly, the mythical “non jobs”. This is a strange argument, as the Conservatives have led the council for ten years, so you would have thought they would have got rid of any non-jobs years ago.
Thirdly, he claims Labour only wants to save jobs to please our supposed union paymasters.
No, Councillor Feather, we want to save jobs because compulsory redundancies devastate workers, their families, and indeed the whole staff group affected.
We want to save jobs because most front-line services are about dedicated public employees providing vital services to local people. And we want to save jobs because we’d rather see money going to local families to be spent with local shops and businesses, not going to line the pockets of bankers and big private contractors in London.
The Government spending cuts facing Calderdale are forcing us to cut spending too far, too fast. The way local public services have been targeted for excessive cuts compared to other Government departments is unjust and unfair.
We’re fighting to do the best possible for local people in these circumstances. Councillor Feather and his colleagues have clearly decided to play politics from the sidelines rather than work constructively with us to protect lock services and the people we need to provide them.
Councillor Tim Swift
Leader of the Labour Group
Town Ward Councillor