Bedford Borough Labour Group Leader Sue Oliver has congratulated Jeremy Corbyn on his election as new leader of the Labour party, and has taken up his invitation to suggest questions for PMQ's:
On behalf of the 14 Labour Councillors on Bedford Borough Council, I would like to congratulate you on becoming the Leader of the Labour Party.
We look forward to all our new members and supporters joining us in becoming activists. I hope the party will now unite behind you and concentrate upon the most important task of exposing the evils this Tory Government is inflicting upon the country while coming up with realistic policies which will get Labour elected in 2020.
You have asked for suggestions of what to ask at Prime Minister's Question Time. The burning issue for all Local Government employees and Councillors, whatever their political persuasion, is the severity and speed of cuts being imposed upon councils. So I would suggest something along these lines:
'Opinion polls show that the public place much more trust in local Councillors than MPs to deliver public services so why is this Tory Government hellbent upon bankrupting Local Authorities rather than funding them fairly?'
Bedford and Kempston was a key marginal seat in the General Election this year. We were bitterly disappointed not to return Patrick Hall to Parliament after his defeat in 2010. However, we are determined to take the fight to the three Tory MPs who claim to represent the people of this Borough: Richard Fuller, Alistair Burt and Nadine Dorries. I have attached a letter we have recently sent to this magnificent trio.
Labour Group Leader, Bedford Borough Council
The letter sent to Richard Fuller, Alistair Burt & Nadine Dorries:
Labour Borough Councillors would like to express their concern, and indeed anger, at the estimated reduction in the Revenue Support Grant allocated from central government to Bedford Borough Council.
We are writing to ask for your support in objecting in the strongest terms to the further damaging cuts being inflicted upon the services the council provide to the people of Bedford & Kempston.
We consider the estimated reduction in the grant from £28.3m in the year 2015/16 to a mere £6m by 2019/2020 to be reckless, and totally impractical in the face of ever increasing demands on public services, particularly adults’ and children’s social care.
Furthermore, the Council is in the process of trying to set a budget for the forthcoming financial year. The fact that the Local Government Settlement will not be formalised until after the Autumn Budget Statement leaves us only a few months to make decisions. This exacerbates the pressure on councillors and council officers who are trying to deliver efficient and vital services to the population of Bedford Borough - including the most vulnerable in our society – whilst having to decide which of those services and jobs will have to be axed in order to cope with these savage cuts in funding.
Local Government has already been forced to deal with a 40% cut in funding since 2010. Thus far Bedford Borough Councillors have sought to protect our frontline services by redesigning services and making redundancies. It is not possible to make the further savings being demanded without it impacting on frontline services. These cuts will be noticeable to everyone throughout the Borough.
As the Member of Parliament for Bedford & Kempston we call upon you to object in the strongest terms to the Chancellor and to the Department for Communities and Local Government. These cuts go too far, are being made far too quickly, and will potentially endanger the wellbeing of residents of your constituency.
We would welcome your support and anticipate you will act with conscience and endeavour to protect your constituents from these excessive ideological cuts to local government funding.
However, if you support this further harsh reduction in spending, and will not vote against it, we would like to hear your suggestions as to how our local government services should be delivered. Which services do you consider to be superfluous? Should we cut our libraries, environmental services such as grass cutting & bin collection, or stop repairing our roads and pavements?
We keenly await your reply on this issue.