Powys Uncut! Report – Lobby of Powys County Council 25/2/14
Powys, one of the most rural counties in Wales, with no large towns or cities, is not known for political protest. Yet a very vocal and colourful lobby of the County Council's Budget meeting on 25th February resulted in two major climbdowns from the Council, which is run by various so-called 'Independents'.
A campaign by parents and teachers to save Additional Learning Needs units in the County's schools has developed into a broader 'Powys Uncut' campaign taking as its starting point opposition to all cuts, and Tuesday saw a real grassroots lobby of over 100 adutls and children. One mother movingly described how her autistic daughter, who is unable to speak, had flourished in the unit at brand new Golwg Y Cwm school in Ystradgynlais. She told me her daughter was able to take part in whole-school activities such as assemblies, but got the special support and attention she needs in the ALN unit. "There's no way she could cope in a mainstream classroom, no matter how much support she had."
Parents and children were joined by other supporters of Powys Uncut, opposing cuts to the schools library service, respite care, day centres and home care for elderly and disabled people. While other political parties were conspicuous by their absence, the Socialist Party's bilingual leaflets and placards were well-received.
Faced with an unprecedented show of 'People Power' the Council backtracked on two of its flagship cuts – the ALN units are to stay, and ther sixfold increase in charges for using Day Centres has been dropped. The Council failed to agree its budget and was adjourned for a week. It's clear that the bulk of the £20 million cuts will go ahead – the struggle to save our services has only just begun.
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