From 2pm Today Bristol Council will be voting on continuing with Mayor George Ferguson’s 3-year austerity budget plan of passing on nearly £90 million of cuts to Bristol’s residents and their public services.
Despite Ferguson’s promise not to cut front-line services we’ve seen many of these cut to the bone.
We’ve all experienced the effects of halving the number of staff policing fly tipping (with incidents of fly tipping on our streets more than doubling!). Libraries – critically important in democratising knowledge and providing vital space for our community – have been savaged with both reduced hours and staff, and a highly uncertain futures (£635,000 of planned ‘savings’ are still to be ‘found’). Most shockingly we’ve seen some of Bristol’s disabled children targeted; with the number of beds at the Bush Residential Centre halved. The Bush provides urgent respite care for some of the most vulnerable children and Bristol and there is no alternative provision.
As well as vulnerable children many adults with physical or learning disability are dependent on the support provided by the councils’ social care services. These too have seen biting cuts. The budget for adult care and support by 30.74% since 2010, with a further 11.96% cut for the elderly. The vulnerable have been further targeted, as the council has increased the cost of the community meals services by 33 per cent.
We cannot allow the Council to pass the government’s socially destructive austerity program onto our city and our communities. If austerity continues it won’t be long before we start to see the widespread failure of more and more of the services we rely on, and the consequent multiplying of social misery in our city.
That’s why we’re calling on all of our councillors to vote against today’s austerity budget. They have a duty to fight for our city and the residents they’re meant to represent, and they need to stand up to the government and say no to more cuts in Bristol. We want councils to fight for fairer funding, the use of reserves and prudential borrowing, and the acquisition of new funding streams (like calling on the central government to devolve the collection of business rates early) to give the people of Bristol the budget they need to support the services they rely upon.
Solidarity to all those affected by this vote – we will continue to build the movement of resistance to austerity and its many local impacts, whatever today’s result.