Southampton rebel councillors oppose cuts!

Save Oaklands Pool

How can councils fight the cuts?
Thursday 20 September, 7.30pm
Sir James Matthews Building,
Above Bar Street,
Alongside rebel councillors Don Thomas and Keith Morrell, trade union members form UNISON and UNITE, Oaklands Pool campaigners and Socialist Party members gathered in solidarity to oppose cuts being made by the newly elected Labour council. They were joined by campaigners supporting Jim and Lorayne Emery who are facing eviction from their tied house following Jim being made redundant from the council after 42 years service.
Campaigners unite against cuts
Campaigners from Oaklands Pool included members of Oaklands Team and Recreational Sports. They are a disabled users group who have used the pool since 2005. Support workers explained that they have tried all the other local pools to find room for their club without success so have nowhere to go. Wayne a group user said, “Ive been training there and become a lifeguard. We have trained for the special olympics.” Wayne is a European Long Jump Gold Medalist and Bronze Medalist in the 1500m. “I feel disgusted at what the council are doing. After the year of the olympics and the promotion of health lifestyle, closing the pool is against everything the public want.”
Sam, Alan and Wayne from OTARs
Speaking to protesters, councillor Don Thomas said, “The campaign to keep the pool open will continue to the day it is reopened.” Despite seeking consultation, the Labour council refused to hear a deputation of pool users for “technical reasons”. The council agenda was then organised to discuss Oaklands Pool six and half hours into the meeting to ensure no protesters remained in the public gallery. However some us stayed to hear councillor Keith Morrell berate the Labour group, “The political decision to close Oaklands Pool was made in June. The consultation counted for nothing. Shame on this council for betraying the people it was supposed to represent.” Labour councillor Keogh suggested users should “take a bus” elsewhere! Councillors say they can not afford the £250 000 ‘subsidy’ to keep the pool open. But this is not a subsidy, this is what we pay our council tax for! Rather than cut our services, Labour should fight the government for the money to run the services the city needs. While £750 billion cash sits in the vaults of big business there is not a single justification for a single cut.
SP member Jane with Keith and Don
Don and Keith have been rewarded for standing firm to the election promises of the Labour Party to keep the pool open with suspension from the Labour Group for the next four months. The debate on the council budget revealed the unravelling of Labour’s election promises to the community and the workforce despite their claims to have restored industrial relations through proposals to settle the pay dispute. Councillors must have had their eyes shut as they walked into the council past UNISON and UNITE banners! The Labour Council faces massive cuts to support grants by the ConDem government. Rather than standing firm with the unions and those who elected them and defying the cuts, Labour is now preparing to carry through £28 million cuts next year.
Southampton Socialist Party have  given their full support to Keith and Don and to the Oaklands campaign. Over 1000 signatures were handed into the council that we collected. On Thursday 20 Sept, the Trade Unionists & Socialist Coalition are holding a public meeting on “How Councils can fight the cuts?”. Labour group leader, Richard Williams has been invited to speak alongside local UNITE and UNISON officers, with Clive Heemskerk speaking for TUSC. Community activists and workers from the pool have taken leaflets to circulate. It is essential we build on the stand taken by Keith, Don, the unions and the community to develop an alternative to the cuts that can protect jobs and services and meet the needs of Southampton.

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