by Alex Forbes, South West London Socialist Party
Outside Croydon Town Hall on 2 March, fury was vented from about 200 demonstrators at a proposed 15% rise in council tax, by the three-times bankrupt local authority, which was robbed of 50% of its budget from Conservative-run central government in the last ten years, with cuts passed on by the Labour council. The Tory Westminster government gave special permission for the hike 10% higher than the 5% limit elsewhere.
On the protest, some blamed the council’s attempt to enter the property market through dozens of developments around Croydon in which Labour gambled on investments, including a hotel, shopping centre and risky housing development, to repay the council’s loans for their construction. A £36 million shortfall from the housing development has exacerbated the crisis, but that is only part of the story.
This is also a mess left by Labour in central and local government when they bailed out the bankers in 2008. Since, the bill was passed down through savage cuts to councils by Tory governments, implemented by councils, including Labour in Croydon.
Labour, Green and Lib Dem councillors voted down the council tax proposals. But they are unlikely to ask for the return of the 50% slashed from Croydon council’s budget in ten years and Labour in office has passed on millions of pounds of yet more cuts to services. The current Tory administration put forward another £27 million of service cuts, on top of the £36 million this year.
Politicians from all the major political parties are complicit in these cuts and attacks on Croydon workers and the community. None are prepared to stand up and fight for what’s needed. We need a new mass workers’ party that will.