Labour should oppose parishes move and demand referendum

Just when I was thinking that’s a good letter from Des Moffatt (“Beware Parish Plan”) he said this: “…I am not necessarily against going this way provided the citizens of Swindon know what is involved and the opportunity for well off areas to pull up the ladder is avoided.”

This unfortunate statement contradicts the logic of the arguments by which Des himself explained why it would not be a good idea.

Given the fact that the proposal is being put forward by the Conservative administration in the context of an austerity programme which is about to be reinforced by the government’s Spending Review there can only be one outcome to its implementation: the decimation of services and the reinforcement of inequalities based on the different Council tax levels in different wards.

If Labour wants to give a lead on this issue it should come out unequivocally against the proposal. After all, it does not now have a national leadership which is supporting ‘austerity-lite’. If Labour is to be an ‘anti-austerity’ party then it should be demanding that the Swindon administration challenge the need for cuts which are not economically necessary but a political choice by politicians who want to ‘shrink the state’. After all none other than David Renard himself signed his name to a statement by the LGA nearly a year ago which said that local government cuts will lead to “vital services being scaled back or lost altogether”.

This is such a significant change in the organisation of local government in the town that it would be profoundly undemocratic for a few dozen Councillors to take this decision. That’s why a binding referendum of the electorate should be organised if the Tories wish to proceed with this proposal. This is what Labour should be demanding and campaigning against the balkanisation of the town.

Martin Wicks

This is a letter to the Swindon Advertiser

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