Portsmouth’s Labour Group used their speech at Full Council today to challenge the Conservative administration running the city to stand up to the Government to protect the public services we all rely on.
The Tories voted through £4,000,000 of cuts and savings to the council’s budget today despite calls from opposition parties for a rethink.
Cllr Stephen Morgan MP, used his Group Leader’s speech to challenge the Council Leader and her group to ‘put ambition at the heart of the council’ and put a stop to proposed cuts to vital public services.
Under the Conservative Government, local council funding – including here in Portsmouth – has been cut by over 40%. Across the UK direct funding for local government will see a cut of £5.8 billion between 2010 and 2018.
Cllr Stephen Morgan MP, told the meeting:
“Yet again we meet in this Chamber to agree a budget overshadowed by disproportionate cuts to local government, a deeply unfair distribution mechanism which sees our city further disadvantaged, and find ourselves responding to a Government budget – only a month ago – which failed to recognise the importance of investing in local, frontline services…We cannot stand by and let this happen.
So we urge the Administration to do all it can to support social care in our city, to end the Government’s disregard for the elderly and vulnerable; and make it clear to our city that Portsmouth cares for those in need.”
The speech called for greater action to safeguard and create jobs, support our city’s schools, tackle the housing and homelessness crisis and ensure care is available for our loved ones.
Cllr Morgan also raised the challenges faced by small businesses across the city. He said:
“Under the Tories botched business rate revaluation almost 800 areas in England and Wales will see higher tax bills. Rates are rising by up to 500% for half a million businesses.
The average small shop will see an increase of £3,663. Small business is the bedrock of our local economy, but business owners are being let down”.
During the speech, the Labour Group also called for further action on children’s services (which faces a £2 billion funding gap nationally by 2020), and falling real-terms public sector pay.
Addressing Full Council, Cllr Morgan said:
“Portsmouth just be at the frontier of what local government is doing, and can achieve, in the most difficult of circumstance. Now people are looking for change, a city which is leading the way in unchartered territory, reinventing the ways things are done and protecting vital services. That is what the people of Portsmouth expect”.
Portsmouth Labour will continue to listen to local views and ideas in the coming months and developing its plan for the city in advance of February’s Council meeting which will agree council tax levels and other budget matters for the next financial year.