Local Councils

An Open Letter to my fellow Labour councillors

Dear colleagues, The past decade in local government has been defined largely by one thing: cuts. And if this government has their way, this will be the story for the next decade too. Rishi Sunak has heaped yet more misery on councils. His budget provided £5bn less than the Tory leadership of the Local Government Association said is necessary just to “stay afloat”. Following the disastrous impact of the pandemic on councils’ finances, we are facing a new wave of cuts. Although the impact may not have kicked in across the country yet, cases like Luton (where £22m of emergency cuts were...

"Labour councils should be fighting the government for more money"

Croydon council, in South London, has issued a Section 114 notice. This means the council will now only provide a bare legal minimum of services, ie make even more drastic cuts. A local union activist spoke to Josh Lovell and Sacha Ismail about the possibilities of a fightback in the borough. Like other local authorities, Croydon is the victim of ten years of cuts. It has lost 76% of its central government funding. The Labour administration has also invested in some dubious ventures, a number of which have not worked out – but the fundamental frame is these dramatic cuts to its funding. Covid...

Video: Fighting council cuts

Video and audio introductions from a meeting on the history and lessons of fighting council cuts, with Josh Lovell, Labour Party councilor. Sweeping cuts are now taking place and are expected in local authorities across the UK, but neither Labour nor the left are prepared for this. If Labour does not take up the fight it will have much less chance of winning back working-class voters, and importantly, saving the jobs and services we all rely on. Josh Lovell, a Labour Party councillor (in opposition) discusses the history of past battles in local government going back to the 1970s, and how we can apply lessons learned from those struggles today. From a meeting of the same name, on 4 October.

Fight the cuts, fight the pay freeze!

Chancellor Rishi Sunak claims he is not “returning” to austerity. This while: • All public sector workers outside the NHS get a pay freeze. And the government will not confirm that NHS workers will get a pay rise! It also seems it will cancel the planned 49p rise in the minimum wage in favour of something more like 19p. • Councils are saying they need billions more just to avoid yet another round of even deeper cuts. • The government refuses even to make its measly £20-a-week increase to Universal Credit permanent; it will be withdrawn in April. Meanwhile the Tories have announced they will...

Making anti-racism a union issue

Two years ago, activists in the Lambeth branch of the public services union Unison launched a campaign to fight institutional racism at Lambeth Council. We knew our employer had a huge race pay gap. We were hearing from our members that they were experiencing more racism at work, since the Brexit vote. We launched a survey and our black workers told us about their experiences of discrimination at work. The stats showed the same story. There were a disproportionate number of white workers in higher grades. You were more likely to face a disciplinary investigation at Lambeth if you were black...

Manctopia? Remaking Manchester for capital

The population of city centre Manchester is set to double in the next five years. 105 complexes of flats are planned. Already tower blocks, usually of little architectural merit, are being built on any available land regardless of the effects on the local environment. Where the land is not free, historic buildings are often demolished or left to rot until they become impossible to save. Until the 1990s, few people lived in the city centre. Now it is becoming “Manc-hattan”. A number of traditionally working-class areas on the fringes of the city centre are being redeveloped as part of a plan to...

Shift in Tower Hamlets

John Biggs, mayor of the Labour council in Tower Hamlets, east London, has at last agreed to talk directly with the public services union Unison about his “Tower Rewards” plan to cut terms and conditions. He will meet Unison Regional Secretary Maggie Ferncombe, other officials, and branch representatives. This move follows nine days of strikes by Tower Hamlets Unison in July and August in response to the imposition of “Tower Rewards”. Unison branch secretary John McLoughlin says: “If management were genuine in their claim that Tower Rewards was not in part about making it easier to make staff...

Let Tower Hamlets reballot!

After nine strike days since the start of July, and a lot of vibrant campaigning, Tower Hamlets council workers are regrouping in their fight to stop the “Tower Rewards” attack on their terms and conditions. Under the anti-union laws, they need to reballot to strike again. There are rumours that the national Unison leadership, despite its public support for the dispute, is dragging its feet and insisting on drawn-out procedures that will make further action impossible for a while yet. Unison activists will push the union leaders to move faster. We can help by continuing to build support for...

Tower Hamlets workers out again

On 13, 14 and 17 August Tower Hamlets council workers will strike again to defeat the “Tower Rewards” attack on their terms and conditions. 17 August will be their ninth strike day since the start of July. According to Tower Hamlets Unison, two thirds of the workforce have refused to sign the new, inferior contracts, despite all kinds of management lies and bullying, including threats of sacking. The Tower Hamlets workers have run an energetic, determined campaign, generating enthusiastic support from their community and from bottom to top of the labour movement. The notable exception has been...

Tower Hamlets strikes again

Tower Hamlets council workers’ fight against attacks on their terms and conditions is continuing, with new strike dates on 13, 14 and 17 August. The workers want to reballot when their current ballot mandate expires on 22 August; so far the Unison bureaucracy is stalling them on that. • Sign up for solidarity and donate here • Updates here • Interview with Tower Hamlet’s Unison’s social care convener Amina Patel here

This website uses cookies, you can find out more and set your preferences here.
By continuing to use this website, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.