17 Feb 2011
10 Feb 2011
From Caroline Lucas MP, Leader of the Green Party
Re “Lib Dem council chiefs condemn cuts, Independent 10.2.11
“Deficit denier” is a very ugly term for those of us who have a positive and constructive viewpoint on managing the country’s financial and other problems.
We can make full acknowledgement of the deficit, and still identify different options for dealing with it. The response of ruthless cuts and austerity measures is an ideological choice made by the big three parties. For Labour and some Lib Dems to criticise the “pace and scale” of the cuts is still a pro-cuts, pro-austerity choice.
The Green Party, many unions and some economists have proposed an alternative choice. This would involve cracking down on tax avoidance and tax evasion, saving billions every year. It would involve the wealthiest people in society pay a fairer share. It would mean saving £100bn over thirty years by scrapping Trident and its proposed replacement. It would involve a windfall tax on bank profits as well as a heavy tax on bankers’ bonuses. It would mean reducing the deficit more slowly, and thus avoiding these savage cuts. It would mean smart switching of funds from high-carbon to carbon-reduction spending (for example away from motorway-building and into public transport), and other ways of generating funds such as a green investment bank. It would mean having enough cash to invest heavily in a Green New Deal – a major plan to kickstart the transformation to a post-carbon economy while creating a million new jobs and training places. And the new jobs would in turn bring in extra revenue to support public spending (whereas cuts will cost the country a million jobs).
Greens and many others who do not “deny the deficit” would prefer the government to make this ideological choice – based on fairness and sustainability – not the one based on destroying public services and punishing the poorest people in society.
Caroline Lucas MP
Green Party Leader
4 Feb 2011
Welcome to the latest update. Lots to report on this month starting with the latest impact of the cuts programme.
I have written before about how vulnerable Birkenhead is to the cuts programme. Recent research ranked Birkenhead as the third most vulnerable area in the entire country. Well the theory is now becoming a reality as budgets are slashed in advance of the new financial year in April. In the past month alone we have seen:
More job cuts: even more people are being laid off by Wirral Council with redundancies now set to top 1,200 as reported in the Wirral Globe
Care home closures: 5 care homes across the borough are to close including Maplehome in Birkenhead. I know from speaking to those affected that this is a terrible blow to families with disabled children who depend on respite care. Furthermore, with less full time staff, care is increasingly being shouldered by those left behind. This is a recurring theme across the public services with fewer and fewer full time staff expected to provide the same level of service. One wonders how much longer the leader of Wirral Council can maintain the absurd position that cuts will not affect front line services.
All of this simply reinforces the Green Party position that the cuts are targeting the most vulnerable while the super rich are unaffected. This is especially the case as more and more high street names including Tesco are identified as avoiding millions in taxes.
You don’t have to venture far in Birkenhead and Tranmere to know that our roads and pavements are often n poor condition. Here too, the cuts are biting with big reductions in the funds available. The Council has published the latest list of funding for its structural maintenance programme in the coming financial year. Modest funds have been earmarked for improvements to Shaw Street, Green Lane, Larch Road and Whitford Road. More significant funding will hopefully be available for major routes including Conway Street, Chester Street, Whetstone Lane, Canning Street, Oxton Road, Exmouth Street and Claughton Road.
Last month we highlighted again the poor record on road safety in Wirral. Moreover, we identified how this extends across Merseyside and raises serious questions for the local police force. The Wirral Globe followed up this story and you can read their report here.
Our latest ward newsletter will be delivered over the coming weeks. It includes a report on the problems caused by the large number of empty homes across our area. You can access the newsletter online.
· Graffiti reported on Park Street
· Fly-tipping reported on Kingsdown Street
· Broken street light reported on Elm Grove
· Warrington Street now has a new street sign
· Not for the first time, fly-tipping on Westbourne Road has been cleared
As ever, if there are outstanding issues of concern to you, please let me know.