Thank you for your letter of 22nd January inviting me to the SACA steering
group meeting on 26th January. I’m sorry I couldn’t attend and am not free
on 8th Feb, either. In answer to the points you make in your letter:
1. Sheffield Green Party is already affiliated to the Sheffield Anti-Cuts
Alliance. Peter Garbutt has been attending the steering group on our behalf
and making sure we are aware of and participate in the various local and
national actions. Bernard Little, our Co-Chair spoke at the rally on 29th
January and Graham Wroe has been posting information and video footage on our website.
2. In terms of the national picture, we entirely agree that cuts are not
necessary or fair. The TUC analysis accords very closely with the Green
Party’s 2010 national manifesto which still applies. We are also very
supportive of the PCS’s analysis and the “million green jobs” campaign.
3. In terms of the local picture, I note that you do not provide any
analysis of the council’s financial position. The cuts imposed on local
authorities by the Coalition Government put Sheffield City Council and
councillors in an extremely difficult position. The cuts are falling
disproportionately on the big northern metropolitain authorities. We do not
have the option of raising tax to balance the budget. Council tax is
regressive and only accounts for a small percentage of the council’s
revenue – the bulk comes in the form of a grant from national government.
And in any case, the council tax rise has been capped. So, in answer to your
question, “will you propose a “no cuts budget” in March?” I have to say this
is not legally possible.
4. This leaves us with two alternatives:
a. to vote against (or abstain) on the Lib Dem budget proposals
b. to put an amendment which accepts the financial constraints but responds
in what we regard as a fairer way and saves some jobs and services which
would otherwise be lost.
believing that a mass movement of non-compliance will help topple the
coalition government. The immediate consequence, however, will be that
officers would take over running the council at least until the local
elections in May and councillors will not have a say in the choices made. If
the incoming administration did not quickly set a legal budget, central
government would step in.
5. Of course this scenario would only occur if Labour also voted against the
Lib Dem budget – if they abstain, it will go through. We don’t know what
Labour’s position will be.
6. Our current position is that Green Councillors are scrutinising the
budget proposals as they emerge and trying to find alternative, less
damaging proposals. It is very hard for us to reach a firm position until we
have seen the full Lib Dem proposals which will go to Cabinet on 23rd Feb
and we have not excluded either simply voting “against” on principle or
putting an amendment which makes the best of a poisoned chalice.
I would be very interested to hear what members of the steering group have
to say about the choice before us.
Many thanks, once again, for your invitation and interest.
Cllr Jillian Creasy, Central ward, Green Party