On Monday the 20th of July the Norfolk County Council will meet for their Policy and Resources committee to begin working towards the forecast cuts of £169million to local services. It is a shameful capitulation to the national austerity policies that are destroying People’s lives across the United Kingdom.
Hardly inspired by Norfolk’s proud history of doing different, and fighting against tyranny and inequality for a better life, the grand scheme of the County Council’s much heralded ‘rainbow coalition’ to outfox the Tories, who council leader and Labour stalwart George Hobbs & Co went to such great lengths to keep out of local power, is to out-cut them. The ‘downsizing’ of public services is actually shaping up to be £50million more than even the criminal demands of the Conservative government, in order to buy the Council ‘breathing room’. I assume this cheery phrase used in this gloomy context is meant in the same way that Russian scientists famously kept a dog’s head ‘alive’ for a period of time with machinery — we may well live, but not well.
the financial equivalent of chickenfeed
This is nothing but an ideologically motivated mugging, which will serve to redirect invaluable resources from the pockets of the most vulnerable, and maintain the luxury lifestyle of a wealthy few amidst an economic crisis they created. One such example of this monstrous process is the likely shift away from funding care homes for vulnerable elderly people, and instead relying upon voluntary organisations to care for them in their own homes.
In order to save the financial equivalent of chickenfeed, in a nation of tax-dodging billionaires and bonus-fuelled drug-addled bankers, the Norfolk County Council — in line with the national government’s morally bankrupt agenda — would happily transform universal rights to public services that enable ordinary people to live with dignity, into compartmentalised privileges.
Throughout the duration of the past 5 years, the Big Society project, which now even David Cameron is ashamed to mention in public, has utterly failed. Charities and volunteer organisations may well be dedicated, but on top of the fact many of them too had funding cuts from local and national government which is causing them to struggle with their workload, they are no substitution for a national safety net of social security.
the result has been booms in malnourishment, child poverty and homelessness
By disconnecting the state from these services, the government have not only dismantled any degree of democratic accountability associated with them, but ultimately deprived working people of the national insurance policy they have paid into their entire lives via tax. The result has been booms in malnourishment, child poverty and homelessness. That is the shameful legacy of the Big Society, and it will be legacy of George Nobbs and his Labour-led coalition in Norfolk if these measures go ahead.
The Norfolk People’s Assembly opposes any such measures, and will be calling a protest outside the Policy and Resources meeting at 8:30am on July 20th, before taking to the Council chambers to protest directly to the councillors. Were councils across the country to begin saying no to the Conservatives dangerous agenda, the government would be forced to rethink their strategy of austerity for the poor and bonuses for the rich — it just takes someone to go first.
This county is more than a holiday home location for the City of London when they need a break from champagne profiteering
There is no reason that shouldn’t be Norfolk, with its proud tradition of folk heroes who fought for social justice, from Robert Kett, to Thomas Paine, to the Burston Strike School. This county is more than a holiday home location for the City of London when they need a break from champagne profiteering; we are a county of thousands of ordinary people, ready to make a stand for what is right.
It is in our history, it is in our blood, so when it is left to us by our spineless council to take the fight to the government, we should not fear having to oblige them. Let us stand together and be counted on the 20th of July, to fight against the wholesale robbery taking place locally, and to strike a blow nationally against austerity.