Public Services not Banking Bailouts!
December 8, 2008
Everyone is entitled to comprehensive and decent public services of all kinds. But public services are in a constant financial crisis. Told to make ‘efficiency savings’, the result is cuts and closures, land sell offs, attacks on staffing levels, wages and conditions, and moves towards privatisation and ‘contracting out’. Private companies and property speculators circle like vultures waiting to satisfy their lust for profits at every opportunity.
All around us, in Haringey as everywhere else, there are disputes and battles as local residents try to defend and improve existing facilities, services and the local environment. This includes campaigns for adequate resources for parks, traffic calming, schools, public housing, neighbourhood libraries, GP surgeries and health services, post offices, public toilets, youth clubs, community centres, and to protect open space and public buildings from destructive private development.
Local residents throughout the country are continually told that ‘no money is available’, ‘cuts must be endured’, and ‘there’s no alternative’ etc. It’s a lie! The government can find £500 billion to bail out private banks from the results of their greed, equivalent to over £1 billion for every local authority area in the country. We should go onto the offensive and demand that society’s resources go where they are really needed.
One way is to link up all the concerns and struggles and develop a ‘Needs Budget’ for Haringey. And then demand the lot. For example, local Friends of Parks groups are working together across Haringey, campaigning for the resources our parks and green spaces need. An adequate response would be staffing to be increased 5-fold, ie a return to pre-1970s levels; a massive increase in the pathetic current maintenance budget; and an injection of about £300m for capital works to restore and improve all facilities and infrastructure. The same Needs Budget could be costed and demanded by health campaigners to ensure the kind of expansion and improvements that our NHS services desperately need. And so on throughout all the public services.
In addition the environmental crisis demands a comprehensive public programme of mass insulation, alternative energy generation, recycling infrastructure and ‘green’ conversion of all workplaces.
How do we ensure there’s immediate action and adequate resources to achieve all this? The first steps are to ‘take ownership’ of our public services and neighbourhoods, identify what’s needed and demand it. At the same time we should develop a vision of the kind of society we need overall, where it’s people’s needs that count, not those of banks, governments and big business. We will then be inspired to work together, as residents and workers, to refuse to accept second best, and to aim for direct control of all facilities, resources and decision-making ourselves.
To get involved in local campaigns see:
Tags: local services