Cuts "too savage and deep"
AS a country we find ourselves in a period of uncertainty economically and politically with far reaching cuts being made by the coalition Government and our local Tory councils.
No matter the size of the cuts, the reduction in debt or the streamlining and rationalisation of services being made, it is the effect that these cuts will have on us, socially and economically as a city and indeed the country as a whole, which is the key factor.
It is worth stopping to think what would have happened if several of the banks had been allowed to go bankrupt, placing hundreds of thousands of people in difficulty over their mortgages and savings.
It is these banks which created the economic uncertainty that we currently face and account for the high levels of debt our Government has from having to bail them out.
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This is an international issue as can be seen with the problems in Ireland and other European countries.
Over the past 13 years we have seen some significant improvements, with our hospital buildings being renewed and medical care provided with short waiting times.
Children's education has been transformed providing high quality new schools with the best equipment possible. We have provided opportunities for our elderly and disabled population with the introduction of bus passes, free swimming, ability to learn new skills at local colleges, help with winter fuel payments, better equalities and the ability to access services.
There are, of course, cuts which are being made nationally that are both necessary and required. Some of these cuts had been set in motion, previous to the General Election of this year, by the Labour Government.
It is however current Government and local councils' responsibility to ensure that the austerity measures taken whilst reducing the debt, also continue to provide support where needed with the least impact possible to the society. These cuts did not need to be so savage and so deep, creating so many unemployed and, despite the Coalition Government's assurances, a loss of very many much-needed front-line services. In fact we should be looking at Ireland to see the effect of deep and sudden cuts. It is not a good solution.
If the proposed local cuts are imposed, we will be losing youth centres and the support workers for our communities. Green waste bins will be charged annually, there will be reductions in the number of grass cuts for our public open spaces, car park charging will be introduced at Robinswood Hill, and there will be a 50 per cent reduction in our voluntary-sector grants budget hitting a vast number of local groups and closing some of them.
Highway improvements will be reduced to repairs only, help and support for young people will be slashed, libraries will be closed and the numbers of community police officers will be slashed. The crime rate is certain to rise.
Local Tories claim many measures taken are part of the Conservative's 'Big Society' where they are looking to communities and voluntary groups to take on these services and facilities. But they fail to take into consideration that these communities don't have the necessary skills or resources to run a library or youth club locally.
The Tory councils are reducing voluntary sector grants thus removing the ability for a lot of groups to take on extra work, if they do manage to stay open.
It has been easy for both Conservative and Liberal Democrats to blame Labour for the economic mess which we face nationally. However locally the Conservatives have been in power on both city and county council for at least eight years, and you have to question why reductions in budgets have not taken place over a longer period of time, reducing their impact. This can only be attributed to mismanagement by those Tory-run authorities.
Protest marches are taking place nationally and locally to let the politicians know that these cuts are both damaging and reckless to society and I ask everyone to provide an opinion in the upcoming local budget consultations otherwise the Tory councils will never know how you feel about the loss of your services.