Around 20 people gathered in Centenary Square ahead of Bradford Council’s monthly meeting to protest against the proposals in the consultation of the the early help service, part of the Children’s Services directorate of the council.
Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser
The plans which are currently being consulted on propose £13m cut mostly in making up to 480 staff redundant but also downgrading children’s centre across the district, currently used by 22,000 children aged 0-4 years old, 60% of all under fives.
Trade unionists in the council, users of the service and their supporters distributed leaflets produced by the local unite branch, with a warm reception from the public.
David Ward, former Lib-Dem MP, and now an independent councillor in Bolton & Undercliffe ward – spoke to demonstrators opposing the proposals and mentioned the Green group on the council were challenging the proposals too.
Unfortunately, the response from the Labour leadership on the council is to double down on pushing these cutbacks through. Val Slater, the Executive member covering the service told the local press “Naturally people have a right to protest but until Government starts to address our major concerns regarding funding for children’s social care, then we have to manage with the limited funding we have.” As if the government are going to change their position without pressure being exerted on them to do so.
If Labour councillors want to follow through on Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-austerity policies then they ought to be leading the fight to force the money out of the government to fund vital local services, such as this or the library service which faces a further near £1m worth of cuts in the forthcoming budget proposals. Anything less than doing so is a dereliction of duty for those who want to fight the cuts, which should include putting forward a no-cuts budget for 2018-19.
In the meantime, campaigners are planning for a second, larger demonstration to take place outside the council budget setting meeting in February. Socialist Party members will be arguing that this should be opened out to all those fighting against the various raft of cuts being made by the council.