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Friday, 14th Feb 2014

Greens to advocate council fightback against austerity

Green councillors say national austerity agenda is disastrous for Bristol

Cllr Daniella Radice, leader of the Green group in Bristol, will emphasise the need for radical national economic alternatives in her budget speech on Tuesday and encourage Bristol to take a stand against austerity. Cllr Radice says the Greens strongly oppose the £83 million in cuts, handed to Bristol by the Coalition Government, which will impact vulnerable citizens and services for all of Bristol:

"Cuts in recent years have removed layers of community infrastructure. The £83 million reduction we face now is an out and out attack on the poorest members of the community. But this is only the beginning. Both George Osborne and Ed Balls have committed to continue local cut backs and reduce central government funding to Bristol. This, combined with increasing demands on social care, will see an end to local choice on almost all service spend by 2020. In effect, this is systematically abolishing local democracy by stealth.  Bristol needs to make some brave decisions to raise money and become more economically self-sustaining."

The Greens also pledged to vote against the tabled Liberal Democrat amendment to freeze council tax: "Freezing council tax is complete economic illiteracy in the current situation and will only leave Bristol in an even worse state in years to come," said Gus Hoyt, Green party cabinet member. "Had the council passed the Green amendment to moderately raise council tax two years ago we would be £6 million better off now."

Greens are calling on George Ferguson to do more on the national level to fight back against Central Government control: "The 2% cap on council tax rises, imposed by coalition, undermines local democracy. George Ferguson, and Bristol's four MPs, must insist for our local right to make decisions about how we raise income. The expectation that you can have Scandinavian-style public services with American-style taxation is a myth," said Cllr Rob Telford.

The Green Party aim to see a radical change to the way local government is financed. Currently approximately 80% of local government finance comes from central government, the rest is raised locally. The Greens would like power to be decentralised so more finance is under local control, as is the case in almost every other European country.

On a national level, the Green Party offers a radically different set of economic ideas, insisting that we cannot ignore the massive inequalities in our society or the health of the planet, when formulating economic policy. The Greens would establish a national living wage, implement the citizen?s income, invest in Green infrastructure to create jobs and build economies based on renewable energy, make a clear separation between casino banking and personal banking, ensure public ownership of finance, support for local currencies, and revise tax banding to make sure those who can pay more, and those who can't pay less.

At the budget meeting on Tuesday, Green councillors will all vote on the mayor's budget. The Green Party does not operate a whip system and councillors are free to make up their own minds as to which way they will vote.

Notes

1. Daniella Radice is available for interview.

2. Greens have engaged in budget consultation and fought to save a number of services including: St Pauls Family centre, public toilets, older people's services, the equalities team and mobile libraries.

3. The Green statement on the budget released on 13 January is available here: http://www.bristolgreenparty.org.uk/library/publicdocs/Green_Party_Budget_Response_2014.pdf

4. Further details on Green Party tax and Citizens? Income policies: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/ec#Direct

5. Details about future local government cut backs are available from the Local Government Association: http://www.local.gov.uk/finance/-/journal_content/56/10180/4057616/ARTICLE

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