Swansea councillors: which side are you on?

Swansea Labour council prepares 45 million of Tory cuts

Swansea UNISON on the march

Which side are you on? That question should be asked of every Labour councillor in Swansea as they prepare to vote on butchering 45 million of jobs and services.

As I sat in my Unison stewards' meeting, listening to a long list of cuts proposals, discussed by the Labour cabinet and outlined to union officers, I felt myself first getting down, then angry and finally determined that this must be where we draw a line in the sand and say: "no more cuts!"

These proposals will take the number of Swansea council job losses to around 1,200 since Con-Dem austerity began, with nearly another 700 to go on top of around 500 already cut. Councillors say that they want to minimise compulsory redundancies, but accept many likely volunteers have already gone in previous rounds.

They also propose axing, selling or reducing a whole range of services, including:

  • Outsourcing large parts of social services, slashing spending on transport and scrapping the community meals service
  • Handing over remaining council-run leisure services to other providers, as well as parks. Bowls clubs have to maintain and upkeep greens
  • Transfer community centres and upkeep costs "to communities". A trust for culture will be set up, preparing the way for outsourcing of cultural resources. Pennard Library is to close
  • Shutting, selling or offloading Plantasia that showcases plants from different climate zones. There's no word in the council's plans for the various exotic animals housed there
  • Scrapping school crossing patrols for lights-controlled crossings, regardless of how dangerous the roads are
  • Increasing school meal charges
  • Closing public toilets or handing them to another provider
  • Stopping the cleaning and upkeep of bus shelters
  • Selling the Civic Centre

Some union members think the council should increase council tax to reduce attacks on jobs. But an increase in council tax is a cut in the living standards of ordinary people. And even a big hike in council tax will only put a small dent in the cull of jobs and services proposed.

Stewards passed a resolution opposing the cuts and committing to balloting for strike action to resist compulsory redundancies. This is a vital part of preparing the fightback, which will need to unite council workers with service users in opposition to all cuts.

We need to be prepared to put up our own anti-cuts candidates in future elections against Labour councillors who carry out Con-Dem cuts.

Ronnie Job, Swansea Socialist Party

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