Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The Northgate site of the former Swimming pool
Bridgwater Forward have requested a Bridgwater Town meeting to discuss the sale of the Northgate site to Tesco Stores Ltd. because Sedgemoor District Council have refused to consult properly with local electors over this sale of publicly-owned land. This approach was tried recently In Yeovil as Ken Keable from Yeovil Trades Council reports.

The  Yeovil town meeting on the cuts in public services was held on 19th February. This was the first such meeting in 15 years.  Everyone who wanted to speak was able to do so.

It is important to record the fact that no Conservatives turned up to defend their party’s policies. This seems to me to show contempt for the people of Yeovil and for the democratic process. I also think that our MP Mr Laws, who had been invited, should at least have sent an apology for his non-attendance, but he did not. As he is a strong supporter of the policy of cutting public expenditure, and hopes to return to the cabinet at a high level, perhaps this meeting would have been embarrassing for him. His Lib-Dem colleagues on the Town Council took the position of condemning the cuts locally that their party is imposing nationally (claiming that different services should have been cut, though they didn’t say which).  

Taunton student Rob Thompson speaks against the Coalition cuts
Two Lib-Dem councillors proposed an amendment to delete condemnation of the Coalition government, so that it would only condemn the (Tory- controlled) County Council, but this was lost and not even all the Lib-Dem councillors present supported it. This shows that the Lib-Dems are divided and deeply unhappy about the developing situation and that the Coalition does not exist at local level. This should become even more evident in the local elections on 5th May.

As I said at the meeting, these cuts are not necessary at all. Britain is the fourth richest country in the world but the wealth is concentrated in very few hands. This concentration of vast wealth in fewer and fewer hands has grown ever more extreme under New Labour and is continuing. The solution is to make the super-rich and the big corporations pay more tax, not to cut services and benefits, which is deeply unjust and will only make the economic crisis worse by reducing demand for goods and services, thereby causing more company closures and more loss of jobs in the private sector.  It will also reduce the tax take.

A wealth tax of two per cent on the richest ten per cent of the population would raise £78 billion (still leaving them with 98 per cent of their wealth). A 20 per cent windfall tax on profits in the banking, energy, retail foods, arms and pharmaceutical industries would raise £16 billion. A “Robin Hood” tax on City financial transactions could raise £20 billion per year and a clampdown on tax dodgers and on British-ruled tax havens could raise £70 billion per year. That is not mentioning the £131 billion owed to the taxpayer by the bailed-out banks.

Protestors opposing the cutbacks
The cabinet in Whitehall contains 18 millionaires. The claim by Cameron, Osborne and Clegg – three millionaires -  that “we are all in this together” convinces fewer and fewer people, especially as the poorest and most vulnerable (who rely most on the services being cut) are being hardest hit although they did nothing to cause the crisis.

As I and other speakers from the Yeovil and District Trades Union Council said, the town meeting was not an end in itself but part of an ongoing campaign. The next part of this campaign is the national demonstration in London called by the TUC for Saturday 26th March. The trades unions are providing buses from Yeovil, Bridgwater  and all over the UK to this great event and details can be found on our website. Already half a million people are expected. It is another opportunity to make our voices heard.

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