A week in the life…..

Started the week helping out Clive Harriss and the good folk of Cheltenham Labour party with leafleting where the people of Springbank are getting the opportunity to vote Labour in a local by-election for the first time in years.  Reaction from locals is positive and there is some fear about the cuts ahead.

On Monday I went to work, where there was some grumbling in the staff room amongst lowly paid support staff about the pay freeze that has been imposed. This affects mostly women on part time, term time contracts.  I then rushed in to North Warehouse to have a meeting to plan the next Overview and Scrutiny meeting swiftly followed by a meeting to draft the report on Bulky Waste.  Then straight to Leaders where we discussed several items. The future of Gloucester’s regeneration company was looked at in the face of the cut of the Regional Development Agency and its funding. The Boundary review at the County Council came up with possible cuts to the number of Councillors.

Tuesday work again, then a ward meeting at which I was reselected as a candidate for the local elections next year. Members were worried about the effects of the cuts when so much good work has been done over the past few years.  It looks like we might lose the library and there are fears about cutbacks to play and advice services.

Went in to the Labour Group office on Wednesday afternoon to work on the Bulky items report. Picked up a copy of the new 3 Year Money Plan to read at home – this sets out the overall plan for cuts and increased charges for Council Services. The full details will only become clear during the budget process. What it doesn’t cover is the announcements made about the ‘freedom’ to decide whose Council Tax benefit we cut or how the introduction of higher rents coupled with cuts to housing benefit will work.

Spent the evening at the  Lampreys’ Tenants and Residents Association where the estate has been improved a lot by the efforts of the people who live there assisted by Gloucester City Homes,  GLCommunities and the police.  My fellow Councillor Steve McHale passed around a petition against the cuts to the Law Centre – their funding is being cut by the City Council.

This morning I went to join a protest outside a Board meeting of the PCT where they were proposing to transfer their acute services to a social enterprise, effectively privatising them but also more costly  than the alternative of transferring them to the hospital trusts. Most of the staff affected are women and their concern is about the services they deliver first and foremost.  But they are also fearful about their jobs and their pensions.

That is the week so far and everywhere I go I see the effects of the drastic cuts starting to be felt and I see the fear of what is to come.  The attacks on services and benefits that people rely on will make our communities tougher places to live.  Some cuts need to be made but I don’t see the people responsible for the economic situation, the bankers, paying the price. The price is being paid by families, hard working people on ordinary incomes, women and children. I don’t see how that is fair.

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