Birmingham council cash reserves increase by 736%

IMG_20170714_074455903

100,000 children in Birmingham live in poverty according to the Children’s Society.  Birmingham is a young city with almost half its 1.1 million residents aged under 30. Birmingham’s parents earn very little with one in five workers in Birmingham earning less than the Living Wage of £8.25 per hour.

From the above its clear to anybody that the services provided by the city council to meet the pressing needs of Birmingham’s poorest are absolutely essential. Any reader will know that Birmingham city council, under a Labour administration, has waged a ruthless campaign of cuts to services and attacks on the working conditions of council employees, with bin strikes and care worker disputes making regional and national news.

The Labour party career councillors blame it all on Tory cuts, they say there is simply no money. The same excuse is used by their acolytes in the Socialist Party and other Trotskyite groupings.

It’s a similar picture up and down the country, where two-faced councillors squeeze the poor while building up cash reserves, handing the assets over to private contractors and wasting millions in short sighted projects and on overblown salaries for top executives.

In a lengthy report published in The Times, it is alleged that Birmingham council like many others has built up huge cash reserves in the last ten years whilst drastically reducing spending on services. The piece details hundreds of local authorities with Birmingham city council topping the table for having increased its cash reserves by £411 million in eight years.

“English councils have amassed huge cash reserves while blaming budget cuts for reduced spending on services, official figures suggest.

Local authorities, excluding police or fire and rescue authorities, were sitting on £21.8 billion of non-ringfenced reserves last year, £5 billion more than they had in 2017 and £11 billion more than they had at the start of the decade.

Spending on local services, including libraries, parks, bus services and bin collections, has fallen by about 21 per cent since 2010, when the government began slashing the central grant it gives to local authorities. Many councils have also been raising council tax bills.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance, which campaigns for lower tax, said that some authorities were making questionable decisions with their budgets that meant residents ‘paying more for less’.”

Midlands local authorities change in non-ringfenced reserves since 2010

Birmingham £411m 736%
Nuneaton & Bedworth £9m 338%
Worcester £8m 265%
Warwickshire £96m 259%
Daventry £19m 238%
Coventry £69m 236%
Rugby £6m 221%
Stratford-on-Avon £8m 208%
Warwick £5m 38
Worcestershire £20m 32%
North Warwickshire £1m 21%
Redditch £0m 12%
Dudley £5m 10%
Wolverhampton £-3m -5%

According to the report Coventry city council said it could no longer afford to provide free school buses for disabled children whilst “holding £97.6 million in usable reserves, up 76 per cent on 2017.” Coventry is planning a further £11 million of cuts.

“In its annual accounts the council accepted that it was difficult to explain the need for such high levels of reserves but said that the financial challenges it faced and projects it had established provided a ‘strong justification’.”

Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink

All this cash floating about without a penny for the workers pay, nor services for working class families reminds us of the tale of the ancient mariner,  ‘water water everywhere nor any drop to drink’. In that poem the ancient mariner brought a curse upon his shipmates by shooting an albatross and he is forced to wear the albatross around his neck as his shipmates suffer from thirst.

The working class prolongs its suffering in the continued support of the imperialist Labour party. The Labour party and its deeds hang on our necks, never has it been clearer that workers need to build a Communist Party to lead the fight for socialism and rid ourselves of the curse of class collaboration, fake socialism and opportunism in the ranks of the labour movement. Get in touch:

Sammi Ibrahem, our candidate in Balsall Heath West

A message to voters in Balsall Heath West

SAMMI IBRAHEM FROM GAZA TO BALSALL HEATH – INTERNATIONAL MAN OF PEACE

Sammi Ibrahem is no stranger to conflict and hardship. Born in a Palestinian refugee camp, Sammi Ibrahem was repeatedly shot by Zionist troops but lived to survive the ordeal and spread his message of uncompromising struggle against imperialism. Sammi who has been cruelly separated from his family for many years by the Israeli occupation of Palestine escaped Israeli detention on a scholarship programme and has, since his youth, been a champion of the oppressed ever since.

Man of peace

Sammi knows that hatred can only be challenged head-on. In his years as a community activist in Balsall Heath, Sammi has looked after the interests of hundreds of local workers and residents, many of whom have faced unfair eviction orders from the Council bailiffs as a result of crushing poverty, or the bullying threats of slum landlords, rapacious bosses or street hoodlums. But Sammi Ibrhaem says that workers and oppressed peoples can stand up to bullies and they can win, not only here in Balsall Heath, but around the world, whether it’s in Gaza or Seoul. As a champion of the oppressed, Sammi has been invited by countless organisations to visit them in the pursuance of peace and socialism.

South Korea and the threats of nuclear war

This April Sammi Ibrahem is a guest of the South Korean workers and peace loving people when he visits Seoul on a two week trip to promote friendship, peace and reunification. At the invitation of the Peace and Democracy Party, and the Korean peace organisations, Sammi will deliver a message from the socialist and peace loving people of Birmingham to our south Korean friends who face the threat of nuclear war as a result of the maniac Donald Trump and the aggressive plans of US imperialism.

As Sammi Ibrahem says,

“Korea was unjustly divided after the second world war as a result of US imperialist occupation of the south. It is high time that injustice was reversed.”

IMG_20180224_133634277

Sammi, recently returned from a peace mission to Columbo given the support of Birmingham’s Sri Lankan community by visiting Sri Lankan Member of Parliament Sunil Handunneththi

IMG_0787

Sammi Ibrahem welcomes comrade Marcos Garcia, from the Venezuelan Embassy, to Birmingham in 2018

Poverty on the rise as Birmingham’s Labour council freezes burial fees!

Poverty on the rise as Birmingham’s Labour council freezes burial fees!

An article carried in the Independent newspaper says the “Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF)[i] found that Britain’s record on tackling poverty had reached a turning point and was at risk of unravelling, with nearly 400,000 more children and 300,000 more pensioners living in poverty than five years ago. Their report showed a total of 14 million people in the UK currently live in poverty – more than one in five of the population.

Now the latest figures, collated by the End Child Poverty coalition through analysis of tax credit data and national trends in worklessness, estimate that child poverty in Manchester and Birmingham stands at 44 per cent and 43 per cent respectively. In the London borough of Tower Hamlets this reaches 53 per cent.

When broken down into constituencies, the figures indicate that Bethnal Green and Bow in London has the highest child poverty rate at 54 per cent, while in Ladywood in Birmingham 53 per cent are living in poverty. Among the 20 parliamentary constituencies with the highest levels of childhood poverty, seven are located in London, three in Birmingham and three in Manchester.[ii]

Our Labour councillors last year wasted more than £6million of tax payer’s money attempting to attack the wages of local bin men, £6m that could have been spent on child services, looking after our elderly and preventing the worst effects of poverty in Birmingham. Now they announce plans to cut a further £53m off the budget despite hiking up the Council tax this year.

The Birmingham Post reported Council Leader Ian Ward saying “We have listened and, even at a time of continuing government cuts, we are investing in the services that matter most to the people of Birmingham.”

According to the Post “Labour bosses said they had listened on several key issues, including reducing the tax hike, freezing burial and cremation fees and not introducing charges for library book reservations.”[iii]

It will be little comfort for our poor and needy to know that what wasn’t spent keeping them alive has been kept back for their everlasting interment.

What you can do

If you want to fight for a better Birmingham, and a better world, join the campaign to elect Birmingham Worker candidates to the city council:

[i] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/poverty-britain-joseph-rowntree-foundation-report-theresa-may-social-mobility-commission-million-a8089491.html

[ii] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/child-poverty-uk-cities-london-birmingham-manchester-welfare-cuts-benefits-food-parents-households-a8174436.html

[iii] https://www.birminghampost.co.uk/news/regional-affairs/birmingham-council-storing-up-tax-14280869

Promoted on behalf of SammI Ibrahem, Reuben Lawrence & Katherine Cremer by Birmingham Worker 274 B12 0BS

VOTE FOR SAMMI IBRAHEM VOTE BIRMINGHAM WORKER IN BALSALL HEATH

IMG-20170811-WA0016 (1)

Sammi Ibrahem gives his support to striking workers last summer

BIN COLLECTIONS AND VERMIN

Our bin collections must remain weekly and there should be no cuts to our waste services. Our streets are filthy; the attacks on bin workers last year only benefitted local rats. For a saving of £300,000 a year the Labour Party spent £6million in an attack on poorly paid bin workers making private haulage firms from Telford veritable overnight millionaires.

STOP THE LABOUR PARTY WASTING PUBLIC MONEY

No more attacks on the terms and conditions of Council workers. Millions in taxes has been wasted in senseless attacks on bin men, care workers and others who provide essential services for the city whilst earning less than £20,000 p/a. If any wages are to be cut, it must be the wages of the top Council executives. The Labour led council currently pays:

Chief Executive £180,000

Change and Support Services Strategic Director £135,000

Finance and Legal Strategic Director £135,000

Legal and Democratic Services Director is on £100,000

Customer Services Asst Director £100,000

Corporate Strategy Asst Dir £90,000

HOUSING

Our city needs decent, cheap, secure public housing, and not the allocation of more city land to private developers building expensive flats for the purpose of ripping-off students. Restrict the growth of “houses of multiple occupancy” and help families into affordable homes.

WOMEN AND CHILDREN

High-quality, safe, pre-school childcare and education, and the protection of ALL the Children’s Centres at risk from Labour party cuts. Oppose all attempts being made by the Labour party to encroach on provisions made for women and children in Birmingham.

LOOK AFTER OUR ELDERLY RESIDENTS

Bring to an end the conversion of large domestic houses into private care homes where the elderly are left in squalid conditions by capitalists who profit from not looking after our elderly. The city council must protect existing services, AND fund more services to look after our elderly. This money can easily be raised from small taxes – thousands of businesses pay no rates at all in Birmingham due to the system of “small business rates relief”, a system which is being abused by hundreds. Everybody should pay their way to look after our children and the elderly folk.

FREE BUS TRAVEL FOR PARENTS & CHILDREN, THE UNEMPLOYED & LOW-WAGED

Access to a free, fully integrated public transport system. Children up to the age of 10 are allowed to travel FREE by bus and tube in London, why not in Birmingham?! We demand the same, and why shouldn’t we get it when the Director of NX Buses took home £309,000 in 2016! This bus company makes millions from Birmingham workers, if it can’t give anything back to our women, children, unemployed and low-wages, we can find a bus company who will – or take the Company into public ownership and run it on a not-for-profit basis.

To support our campaign, get in touch:

Join us at Councillor Trickett’s surgery this Thursday 6pm (cpgb-ml)

wp-image-1285495501

Local residents outside Lisa Trickett’s surgery in September

The Birmingham bin strike is far from over. The ballot of industrial action is valid from Monday, although bin men won’t be taking strike action as they are relying on the Union lawyers and officials to come to some sort of agreement with the Council else see the matter settled in their favour in the Courts.

Reliance on the bourgeois courts is the favoured tactic of most trade union negotiators these days when settlement through agencies like ACAS isn’t possible. Having seen the tangible value of an ACAS agreement in August, and the back-stabbing antics of the Labour Party, the CPGB-ML is of the opinion that the real strength of the workers lies in industrial action and political pressure exerted against the Labour party. Closing your eyes and wishing that your cheating, lieing, underhand partner is going to change their ways is wishful thinking. The reality of the trade union – Labour party “relationship” has tragic consequences for the workers who fail to ascertain that endless pleading with Labour to “see sense” gets you nowhere – bullies only understand strength and there’s no choice but to fight them.

Join CPGB-ML outside the surgery of Councillor Trickett

Thursday 12th October 6.00 – 7.00pm

Moseley Exchange, Moseley Community Development Trust, The Post Office Building, 149 – 153 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 8JP

Leave your details here for updates and more information:

Demand a vote on any deal & target Labour party councillors

The coming days and weeks in the Birmingham bin strike will be crucial for the bin men. Tonight (Tuesday 19 September), the Party Committee of Birmingham CPGB-ML discussed the likely outcome of the High Court ruling in London and the success of both last Thursday’s Trickett picket and the Sunday rally.

High Court

Firstly we fully expect the High Court to cobble together a decision that will enable both Unite and the Council to claim some sort of victory. As with the fiasco of the ACAS deal, it is only right and proper that the workers vote on whether to accept such a deal and return to work. The decision cannot be made on their behalf by officials and stewards alone. Furthermore, any deal that delays the demands of the workers should be challenged until the Grade 3s are given a cast iron guarantee that their job is protected.

It is the job of social democracy to ensure that the anger of the mistreated working classes is dissipated. They do this by announcing public inquiries and commissions as in Grenfell and in the case of industrial disputes, they use ACAS and the Courts to get men back to work on promises alone. This has happened once before in this dispute. If the men are offered a promise, or if the men are offered a temporary concession or deal, perhaps even a pause in hostilities, they must push on for total victory. Don’t clean the streets up only to have to come out again! Each delay only gives the Council more time to prepare their attack and undermine the strike.

Labour

Secondly our Party believes a campaign targeting Labour councillors and members at Ward meetings and constituency party meetings will pressure the local Labour Party to think again and encourage the welcome process already begun of internal Labour party back-stabbing whereby Momentum and others are emboldened to attack and remove incumbent councillors. Dissention in the enemy’s ranks is to be welcomed. Our party notes with amusement the beginnings of the great purge in local CLP’s and offers the following advice to the butchers,

“Today you amputate one limb, tomorrow another, the day after tomorrow a third – what will we have left in the Party” (J V Stalin 1924).
Victory to the bin workers!

Photographers images from bin workers demo

Communist and photographer Stalingrad took these great photos at Sunday’s rally in support of Birmingham bin men, enjoy!

Five myths about Manzie and Labour

Myth 1 – Manzie uses magic powers to make all the poor Labour councillors do her bidding, including poor old John Clancy

Truth – Manzie was appointed by the Labour party. Clancy and the rest, including the Tories love her. Her views coincide with theirs. All their views are the same because they are all capitalists, none of them are socialists. In fact, Manzie was appointed precisely because she is such a wretched slave to the interests of capitalism.

Myth 2 – Manzie gets £180,000pa

Truth – she does, it was a salary agreed by her bosses in the Labour Party when they appointed her. They also take neat little sums as Councillors.

Myth 3 – Manzie is a Tory

Truth – who knows and who cares? Labour or Tory its the same old story. She was appointed by Labour with Tory support, her salary was agreed by the Labour Cabinet, and presumably her politics and reputation preceeded her, thats why they appointed her and not a bin man. So – they knew she was a disgrace and they appointed her for that very reason, they haven’t been tricked or bullied!

Myth 4 – “if it sounds like a Tory, talks like a Tory and is a Labour party member, it’s a Tory” video here

Truth – nope, it’s a Labour party member. Let’s stop making excuses for Labour class traitors by calling them Tories. They’re Labour, the same party which didn’t overturn any anti-union legislation between 1997-2010, gased 4 million Korean workers whilst it bribed British workers with the NHS in 1948 (which it then began privatising in 1998!), betrayed the Miners Strike in 1984 and abandoned the fig leaf of Clause 4 & common ownership in 1995. The list could go on….

Myth 5 – the Labour party is a socialist organisation

Truth – The Labour party doesn’t set itself the goal of socialism. The Labour party aims to manage capitalism, to put a nice face on it. When workers make a fuss, all the top brass start going on about socialism again. The mention of socialism in Clause 4 of the Labour party constitution was put in by Tony Blair in the 90’s. Tony had total power to do what the hell he wanted for ten years, we didn’t advance one inch towards socialism, but Tony did manage to murder a few million and make himself a few more million from all the slaughter.

We need to strive for socialism, and for that, we need a Communist Party. The CPGB-ML is that party.

 

The reason John McDonnell has finally spoken in support of the Birmingham bin strike is because he has been forced to support the bin men.

The Birmingham Mail yesterday quoted McDonnell as saying:

“I do not see your strike as strike against Labour. I see your strike as a strike against austerity. Simple as that.

“Our advice to Labour councillors wherever, when they go into dispute, is to get round the table.

“And insist on the fact that it isn’t chief executives or officers of the council that determine the future of a council’s policies, but the councillors themselves.

“So we want negotiations to resolve this dispute immediately.

“Solidarity!”

Our view

We agree that this strike has been a strike against austerity, but it’s LABOUR PARTY austerity. Whilst the Tories may be in government, it is the Labour party locally who have chosen to attack the bin men, as well as implement cuts which have reduced a city council workforce of 20,000 to half that number.

The reason John McDonnell has finally spoken in support of the Birmingham bin strike is because he has been forced to support the bin men. If he was an ardent supporter would it have taken nine weeks?

It is clear that this new and very welcome support is due to the heroic industrial action undertaken since June. The local Labour Council have failed to impose the cuts which they believed in their arrogance would go through with very little disruption, the Labour chief of the Council has fallen on his sword and McDonnell is being forced to the microphone. The fact that the pressure has mounted to this level is proof, were any needed, that the bin men are winning.

Birmingham IWA(GB) raise money for strike fund

The Birmingham Branch of the Indian Workers Association (GB) accompanied CPGB-ML comrades to the Perry Barr picket lines on Thursday to show their support for striking bin men. The IWA comrades handed a cheque to Convenor Richard Beddows for the strike fund. The Birmingham IWA(GB) has a long and proud history in our town; from the days organising in the Birmingham foundries for Marxism-Leninism, it’s influence in the trade union movement & anti-fascist campaigning in Handsworth from the Shaheed Udham Singh Welfare Centre.

Birmingham IWA(GB) leader Avtar Jouhl is a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) and will speak at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Great October Socialist Revolution which is taking place in London on November 4th – tickets available here.

IMG_0078

L to R: Sheera, Bhagwant (IWA), Sammi Ibrahem (CPGB-ML) & Richard Beddoows (Unite)

Binmen Strike; Perry Barr Depot, 7th Sept 2017;

Sheera delivers a solidarity message