A PEOPLE'S BUDGET FOR CROYDON!!
Croydon’s right-wing Labour council will be setting its budget during February and March.
And on 28th January, the “Opportunity Croydon Fairness Commission" will publish its final report on, "what can be done to improve the borough,”
Labour councillors, presumably having no ideas of their own, asked the Bishop to lead the commission’s work.
Setting expectations, an email from the Commission spoke of the council having to, "make difficult decisions about how it can serve the people of the borough with far less resources…”.
Right-wing Labour Councillors will welcome the report. It will set an agenda of cautious and minimalist "reforms" for councillors unwilling to lead a popular fightback against cuts to funding and services.
Labour councillors will likely adopt the “dented shield” approach; favoured by spine-free councillors everywhere.
The money's just not there, they will say. There's nothing we can do. But at least we can prioritise cuts better than the Tories!
Like Tory/Liberal Sutton, they may offer consultation - but only on where the cuts should fall !
Fighting councillors, however, could make their own choices. There ARE things they can do. They can VOTE AGAINST CUTS!
Unite's local government national committee has called on Labour councils to do this; to set ‘no cuts’ budgets.
Furthermore, according to Croydon’s latest balance sheet the Council has nearly £90 million in “usable” reserves. If the “unusable” reserves were included, the total goes up to £362 million!
The total usable reserves held collectively by UK local councils is more than £22 billion!! - most of it in Labour councils!
If Labour councillors were determined to make REAL Corbyn’s claim that Labour are now an "anti-austerity party", then these reserves should be turned into a fighting fund!
The council could also issue Bonds to raise money - on very favourable terms too, in light of almost zero interest rates.
Rather than set a Tory-collaborators budget, councillors could instead set a “People's Budget”! A budget designed to meet the needs of Croydon’s citizens - not those of the pro-spiv Tories.
This could be done entirely legally! The Southampton Labour movement, for example, are already setting about this task. See HERE.
Activists in the Croydon Labour movement, joining with campaign groups and others, could draft a “People’s Budget for Croydon”. Croydon’s Trades Council has already started work in this direction.
A document like this could be distributed and publicised. It would shout out loud that a pro-worker alternative IS possible. It would be a powerful antidote to right-wing Labour’s lamentations and hand-wringing.
It could be used in the lead up to a mass lobby of the council on budget day!
It could be held up as the first volley in a political challenge to the pro-establishment Labour councillors - to signal their time is running out!