Tag Archives: Bradford Council

Protest against cuts to early help children’s services in Bradford

bradford early help protest

Trade unionists, service users and supporters protest against proposed cuts to early help service – photo Iain Dalton

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.

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Defend children’s services in Bradford

A good start was made to the campaign to defend council-run children’s services in Bradford at a public meeting on December 5th, with representation from service users, trade unionists and community campaigners.
The stark facts were laid out: Cuts being made to children’s services of £13.3m are likely to see up to 480 jobs going, and will also affect children’s centres which will be brought into the new service. The Unite Shop Steward (who helped organise this meeting) has also been victimised over the issue.
The meeting made it clear that we can’t rely on trade union action alone to defeat this brutal cut, instead campaigners need to involve parents and service users.
Plans were made for immediate action to be taken, starting with a protest on December 12th outside the next Bradford Council meeting and a further public meeting on December 19th, at 7.30pm at Bradford Deaf Centre.
But socialists, community activists and trade unionists have made it clear that they are far from deaf to the affects these cuts and job losses will make and will be battling the council all through the festive season to force them to listen.
Bradford Socialist Party

Succesful Public Meeting Discusses Next Steps in Campaign to Save Edmund Street Day Centre

“This is about the council trying to move the poor out of the city centre to create an image of prosperity and recovery in Bradford. But it’s an illusion, the council are trying to make believe that poverty doesn’t exist here”. These comments summed up the feeling of the motivations behind Bradford Council’s decision to cut funding to the Edmund Street Day Centre at a public meeting of 25 people on Thursday 6th October.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire organiser

The ‘Save Edmund Street Day Centre’ campaign has been initiated recently by Bradford Socialist Party members, receiving significant coverage in local print and radio media. The meeting was attended by service users, people involved in the voluntary and community sectors as well as anti-cuts activists. Disgracefully, despite being invited, not one of the councillors for the ward the service is based in turned up to the meeting, to the anger of numerous service users.

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party branch secretary, who has helped spearhead the campaign so far, opened up the meeting, putting the closure of the day centre in the context of Bradford Council’s passing on of the Tory austerity agenda onto the people of the city.

He was well aware of the valuable services provided by the day centre as a former probation officer who had referred people there in the past, and commented what a loss to vulnerable people the closure of the day centre will be.

Ron, a service user, spoke next, explaining the worries many service users have that the facilities to be offered at the Salvation Army centre, a smaller center which is to allegedly take on running the service, will be able to provide. He also pointed out that the Salvation Army is a mile and a half away up a steep hill from Edmund Street, and that service users have worries regarding the Salvation Army’s attitude to the LGBT community.

Mike Quiggan, from the Bradford Resource Centre was the final speaker. He pointed out that Bradford historically has had a vibrant array of community organisations that have tackled issues of poverty and stood in solidarity with each other, often backed by the trade union movement. Yet he pointed out that this has been whittled away in the more recent period, citing “The introduction of capitalist managerial techniques from the private sector” as a key factor in the fragmenting of Bradford’s Community & Voluntary sector. He pledged to appeal for the support of Bradford Trades Council for the campaign.

A wide ranging discussion took place, with service users and volunteers highlighting the valuable interlinked services that will be lost with the move, and questioning whether this had even been considered by the council. Whilst the day centre will be moved, a substance abuse service on the same street will remain there, fracturing the vital link between the two.

A campaign planning meeting will take place next week to thrash out a strategy involving many of the valuable suggestions made at the meeting – key to this will be pressurising the council to reverse this decision, including lobbying the upcoming council meeting on the 18th October.

Make Bradford Council Retreat on All Library cuts

Bradford Socialist Party members campaigning against the library cuts - photo Iain Dalton

Bradford Socialist Party members campaigning against the library cuts – photo Iain Dalton

Text of a Bradford Socialist Party ‘Save Our Libraries’ leaflet

The future of 12 libraries across the Bradford district lies in the balance, as part of around £61m worth of cuts passed by the council at its budget setting meeting in February. This would be a reduction of a half of full-time libraries across the district—another victim of the Tory government’s savage cuts which Labour-led Bradford Council are implementing.

The council had originally planned to fully staff just seven—the city centre plus Keighley, Manningham, Shipley, Ilkley, Bingley and Eccleshill.

Under pressure from campaigners, the budget was amended with funding to fully staff Wibsey, Laisterdyke and Wyke, whilst Baildon and Clayton will be partially staffed, with other hours being covered by unpaid volunteers.

The Socialist Party believes libraries are vital community resources, especially used by families with young children. It is vital that these services are provided by fully trained staff, not let to the mercies of whether enough people can volunteer to run services.

These services should not be sacrificed on the altar of austerity to help fund tax cuts for the wealthy and boost the profits of major corporations. We believe that the council should be resisting the cuts to its funding, not doing the Tories dirty work of attacking local communities jobs and services.

The £218 million the council holds in useable reserves must be utilised as a first step to building a mass campaign to challenge the government’s cuts.

Anger Against Plans to Close Bradford Libraries

The planned decimation of library services in the Bradford area of West Yorkshire has led to angry scenes at the recent ‘consultation’ meetings, where details about the possible closure of 11 libraries have been put on the table.

Blaming budget pressures, Bradford Council propose to fully fund just seven libraries in the region, with the other 11 to be run by volunteers or closed. There was no doubt amongst people at the meetings about the damage this will do. Socialist Party members are amongst those organising opposition to these plans, starting by setting up a steering committee that will be meeting shortly to set up a public meeting to give an organised voice to the anger that exists on the issue.

With the council debating the issue on February 25th these consultations leave predictably little time to regroup and organise resistance, but they will have a shock later this month if they expect that meeting to take place without a wall of opposition outside.

With Labour running Bradford council there is hope amongst some that a re-think may yet happen. As we made clear at the consultations, the £218m in available reserves held by them must be utilised as a first step to building a challenge to the government’s cuts. Labour councillors have recently received detailed letters outlining how to set a legal no cuts budget that would be the basis of this campaign, with Momentum locally also pushing councillors to resist the cuts. We look forward to hearing their response, or to them hearing ours on Feb 25th and beyond.

Ian Slattery, Bradford Socialist Party.

Hundreds Attend Corbyn Rally in Bradford

Jeremy Corbyn outdoor rally in Bradford

Jeremy Corbyn outdoor rally in Bradford

With rallies in Liverpool, London and other major cities running out of space, the organisers of Jeremy Corbyn’s labour leadership election rally in Bradford took the hint and opted for an outdoor rally.

Iain Dalton, Socialist Party West Yorkshire Organiser

Corbyn himself arrived to almost a rock star reception – to the tune of ‘The Final Countdown’, surrounded by paparrazi to a cheering crowd – except instead of a stadium, he was speaking to around 700 supporters on a cricket pitch.

Press photographers and cameramen buzz around Jeremy Corbyn as he walks to the stage

Press photographers and cameramen buzz around Jeremy Corbyn as he walks to the stage

Those gathered came from a wide variety of backgrounds, but the majority were those enthused by seeing a now prominent political figure that articulated their anti-austerity, pro-working class views, whether they were older activists disillusioned by New Labour or young people getting active for the first time.

Clearly with many of the reported 140,000 new members and 70,000 supporters signed up since the election been Corbyn supporters then it is possible Corbyn could win. But given the attempts to undermine his campaign by the right-wing majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party and others, alongside the media – there would be obstacles even after winning the leadership election as the make-up of the platform of the rally showed.

For example, the rally was hosted by newly elected Bradford East MP Imran Hussain. Whilst Hussain gave quite a fighting speech at the rally, he had previously been Deputy Leader of Bradford Council until his election, where the council has recently passed eye-watering levels of cuts.

If Corbyn’s words at the rally saying that we can’t just accept another five years are to be put into practise then as well as MP’s voting to defend jobs, services & welfare, it also means councils refusing to pass on Tory cuts like Bradford Council have. Given Imran Hussain also remains a councillor, then we hope him and other Corbyn supporting local councillors will be voting against further cuts budgets come next February.

Also speaking was Unison regional officer John Cafferty, someone many Unison activists would not consider left-wing. Yet the platform also saw a young student union officer speak reflecting the refreshing change that many would view the anti-austerity, anti-war platform that Corbyn is articulating.

Hundreds attended the Jeremy Corbyn rally in Bradford

Hundreds attended the Jeremy Corbyn rally in Bradford

Speaking to several young rally attendees afterwards, then a number admitted having been turned off from voting Labour in the general election as many of the views articulated by party’s leadership seemed like a watered down version of the Tories, several of them had instead voted Green. This viewpoint was echoed at the rally by the left-wing MP for Leeds East, Richard Burgon, commenting that “Many people said on the doorstep ‘I’m not voting Labour as you’re all the same'”

A number of those attending had signed up as Labour supporters to vote for Corbyn and see how things develop from there. On the platform a GMB speaker said of Corbyn “He’s the only hope for the Labour Party” whilst Imran Hussain commented “This opportunity (to elect a left-wing labour leader) will not present itself again in a generation”.

Yet the post-election anti-austerity mood, that the reception Corbyn is receiving reflects but also the big demos organised by Socialist Party members and others in cities such as Leeds and Sheffield, will not go away after this leadership contest. After the contest, Corbyn should call a conference of his supporters, but also of the trade unions which support a fighting anti-austerity programme (including those not affiliated to the party) to discuss where next to turn this mood & support into anti-austerity & socialist change.

(See also editorial from the Socialist on Corbyn’s campaign)

Protest Against Huge Budget Cuts in Bradford

Protesters outside the council meeting

Protesters outside the council meeting

Anti-austerity protesters turned up outside Bradford town hall last Thursday to make their feelings known. As one protester said: ‘we will not take these cuts lying down’!

Peter Robson, Bradford Socialist Party

And what are these cuts?  About £170 million in total to be precise, what also is precise is where these horrendous cut backs will in effect ‘land’ on the people of this district.  Bradford is not a wealthy town that has been well documented, but the Con-Dem government’s disproportionate ‘attack’ on northern cities and towns seems to me to be totally ideological.

The North is still the most unionised part of the country, probably the most militant and certainly has some of the poorest areas of England.  So the cuts to education and social care to name a few will have a devastating effect on people in this city.

Clearly, if you are a Whitehall minister with no actual clue where Bradford is, job done I suspect.  Walking through Bradford at times, it is palpable the amount of people begging on the streets, this surely must also be an indicator of the problems ahead.

We brought a Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) banner to the protest and gained a lot of local publicity for this (see two articles in the Telegraph & Argus – Article 1 & Article 2)

But the fight has only just begun to eventually stand candidates that will not lie and renege on their promises, only then will working class people have faith in the political process again.  We’re aiming to stand 7 TUSC candidates in the local council elections in May.