Protests as Nottingham City Council set budgetTagged as: austerity budget concil cuts local_communities nottingham_city_council notts_sos
Neighbourhoods: council_house market_square nottingham
Published by group: Notts Indymedia
On Monday 5th March, city councillors in Nottingham met to vote through a budget which will cut £20m and 195 jobs while upping council tax by 3.49%. Campaigners protested outside the meeting at both lunchtime and in the early evening.
On the newswire: Campaigners condemn city council budget decision | Nottingham City Council Budget £20m Cuts Protest | Protest against Notttingham City Council budget | Notts SOS: city council budget protest | Saturday in the Market Square | Notts SOS Indymedia group
The budget will
- increase council tax by 3.49%
- see staff encouraged to volunteer to reduce their hours from 37 to 35 hours a week
- realign management and cut 195 jobs
- close the Museum of Nottingham Life (Brewhouse Yard), except for group and school visits
- close two centres for older people, Marlstones Elderly Person's Home in Bulwell and the Willows Centre in Beechdale
- sell-off Portland Leisure Centre
- cut food waste collection and close nine recycling sites
- reduce funding to Connexions, a support service for young people
The council had initially announced plans to reduce redundancy payments for laid-off workers to the legal minimum (this would have been the third time redundancy payments at the authority have been attacked), but ultimately decided against this.
The lunchtime protest was organised by Notts SOS and Nottingham City Unison. There were a number of speakers including union members and local campaigners. The media were out in force and images of the demonstration were widely used to illustrate stories about the budget. (Presumably because they were more interesting than a stock image of the Council House.)
Notts SOS also held a second protest in the evening for people coming from work.
A number of petitions opposing the cuts were presented to the council, one each from Unison and Notts SOS urging the council not to pass the cuts onto the people of Nottingham and a third opposing the closure of Marlstones Elderly Person's Home.
In total the council hope to save £20m to cover a shortfall arising from reduced government funding as a result of the coalition government’s austerity drive.
Councillors made a lot of mileage out of the constraints imposed on them by central government, but campaigners were not impressed. Tom Unterrainer from Notts SOS said, "Labour councillors made a lot of speeches, all of the 'with a heavy heart' variety. Piffle. If they had any heart - or backbone - they'd have set a no cuts budget and taken their fight to the government with action not hot air."
Campaigners are disappointed by the vote, but are clear that this is not the end of the campaign. Richard Smith from Notts SOS said, "This is the fourth year in a row the city council has cut its budget and they already expect to slash a further £24m by spring 2015. Sooner or later, something's going to give. Hopefully it's some of the local Labour councillors rather than any of Nottingham's residents.