Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Three questions to ask your councillor

One of the keys to effective local action is making sure that campaigners think ahead and get decision-makers to respond to them, rather than waiting for decisions to be announced and then complaining. In that spirit, here's three questions to ask your local councillor:

1. What have you done to make sure your council obeys the laws on promoting equality?

Some anti-cuts campaigners have been urging councillors to defy the law and set illegal budgets, to which nearly all councillors have responded by explaining why it is important to obey the law.

But obeying the law doesn't just mean supporting enough cuts to balance a budget. If these cuts are decided on "without due regard to the statutory equality needs in the performance of its functions as required by s71 Race Relations Act 1976, section 76A Sex Discrimination Act 1976 and section 49A Disability Discrimination Act 1995", then they can be quashed by a judge.

As a general rule, any decisions about funding cuts should be supported by a full equalities impact assessment. Councillors don't have to carry these out themselves, but they need to ensure that council officers have done this properly. This applies both to councillors in power, who need to make sure that they are not complicit in breaking the law, and to those in opposition, who should use these laws to scrutinise decisions effectively.

I think this is a much more fruitful approach for anti-cuts campaigners to adopt - rather than urging councillors to act illegally, we should instead urge them to obey the law. Councillors have a decent argument that it would be harmful for them to set an illegal budget. They have absolutely no good excuse for waving through cuts without considering the impact on equalities.

2. What are you planning to do about the government's plans to increase council tax for millions of low paid households?

After years of pious talk about how unfair they think council tax is, the Tories and Lib Dems plan to impose council tax rises on up to 5.8 million of the poorest people in Britain in 2013. They have announced that they will cut the budget for council tax rebates by 10%, while leaving it up to local authorities to set their own criteria for eligibility (which goes against their plans to simplify the benefits system).

So local councillors will get the choice - do they cut services even further in order to prevent tax rises on those least able to pay? Or they could start work now to get the government to abandon these proposals (and maybe even get our shadow ministerial team to take an interest).

3. How will you work with anti-cuts campaigners to win council tax referenda?

From 2012, any rise in council tax beyond the amount set by central government will have to be agreed in a referendum. Although there is a vocal minority who are protesting against cuts, recent surveys have shown that at present a majority of people favour deeper cuts to many local services such as housing and homelessness and adult social care.

If councillors don't want to preside over a system where each year they get to make deeper and deeper cuts and provide an ever more restricted range of services because they would lose a referendum on raising council tax to maintain services, then they need to work together with anti-cuts campaigners. There will never ever be a majority for a referendum on raising council tax, but with the right preparation there can be a majority for maintaining decent services rather than cutting them even further.

Many of those who have turned up to anti-cuts protests are exactly the people who councillors should be desperate to work with - people who are passionate about local services and who want to see them defended. There is a big danger that they get disillusioned by taking part in ineffective protests and just give up. Instead, councillors need to develop a strategy to build relations with them and involve them for the future. I'd hope, for example, that some of the young people whose first political experience was protesting at a Town Hall over the past couple of months would be standing for election for Labour at some point over the next few years.

This strategy involves trying to listen and find opportunities to reverse cuts to services like youth clubs which have got people engaged in anti-cuts campaigning; identifying people who are passionate about their community and helping them to be effective in campaigning for new services; and finding ways of developing joint campaigns with anti-cuts campaigners, for example on the changes to council tax benefit mentioned above.


One of the frustrating things about seeing increasing antagonism between councillors and anti-cuts campaigners is that there is so much where they are on the same side. Hopefully, these three questions are the start of a dialogue which reminds us how much unites, not divides, us.


At 1:19 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here in Middlesbrough the Labour councillors were very vocal on the streets and in the press with their opposition to the cuts. We then had our full council meeting at which we voted and as you would imagine - every single Labour hand went up in favour of the budget cuts and 3.5% council tax rise.

At 9:26 am , Blogger Tom Watson said...

Don't say anything in front of your tax preparer that could be misleading. Just like you can't joke around at the airport about having a gun, you can no longer joke about your Swiss bank account at the tax office. Matawan income Tax Preparation

At 3:06 am , Blogger Junda Xu said...

20151026 junda
michael kors outlet
louis vuitton outlet
nfl jerseys
cheap ugg boots
Coach Factory Outlet Online Sale
air max 95,nike golf,nike janoski,air max 1,nike canada,nike plus,nike shox,nike factory store
Louboutin Red Bottoms Shoes Outlet
oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton outlet
ralph lauren polo
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet sale
ugg boots
Authentic Louis Vuitton Handbags Cheap Online
mont blanc
michael kors outlet
Gucci Outlet Online Sale
michael kors handbags
Authentic Louis Vuitton Belts Outlet Store
michael kors outlet
Coach Factory Outlet Private Sale
true religion jeans
tory burch outlet
Oakley Vault Outlet Store Online
hollister clothing store
nike trainers
Louis Vuitton Handbags Official Site
michael kors handbag
Louis Vuitton Handbags Factory Store
uggs australia

At 2:54 am , Blogger dong dong23 said...

adidas originals
christian louboutin shoes
polo ralph lauren
louis vuitton handbags
christian louboutin outlet
coach factory outlet
ralph lauren sale
toms shoes outlet online
coach outlet
adidas ultra boost
adidas shoes
kate spade
nike uk
louis vuitton outlet
replica watches
coach outlet online
kate spade handbags
lebron james shoes 2015
true religion outlet
coach factory outlet
longchamp outlet
michael kors purses
polo ralph lauren
coach outlet
christian louboutin shoes
christian louboutin flats
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet
michael kors outlet clearance
true religion shorts
kate spade handbags
abercrombie & fitch
cheap ray ban sunglasses
polo ralph lauren outlet
cheap oakley sunglasses
coach factory outlet
adidas yeezy

At 3:29 am , Blogger aaa kitty20101122 said...

yeezy shoes
nike roshe run
yeezy boost 350
michael kors outlet
michael kors uk
michael kors handbags
yeezy boost
chrome hearts online
asics running shoes
chrome hearts online

At 10:20 am , Blogger happy 123 said...

adidas nmd
nike air zoom
reebok shoes
nike air huarache
lacoste outlet
hogan outlet
new england patriots jersey
nike zoom
adidas tubular shadow
links of london

At 1:50 am , Blogger dong dong23 said...

cheap ray ban sunglasses
the north face
ray ban sunglasses
polo ralph lauren uk
michael kors geldbeutel
ralph lauren outlet
north face outlet
michael kors outlet online
adidas wings shoes
nfl jerseys wholesale

At 3:40 am , Blogger chenlina said...

nhl jerseys
coach outlet
oakley vault
salvatore ferragamo
pandora jewelry
moncler outlet
air max

At 6:41 am , Blogger jeje said...

yeezy boost 350 v2
adidas yeezy boost
nike shoes
lebron soldier 10
adidas stan smith sneakers
harden shoes
longchamp longchamps
michael kors handbags
nike polo shirts

At 2:14 am , Blogger Lilyh Gibsonc said...

salomon boots
prada shoes outlet
christian louboutin shoes
moncler outlet
kate spade outlet
christian louboutin
michael kors outlet
yeezy boost 350
coach outlet
nike outlet


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home