|Dalton Road, Barrow, Saturday 21st May|
Labour swept to power in the Barrow borough elections held on May 5th but whether or not this is a good result will be determined by the actions of those elected to serve on the council.
Will the new Labour councillors unite to defend the people of Barrow against the cuts being imposed by the Tory/LibDem government or will they simply administer the cuts as loyal servants of that government? Nationally, Labour Party top brass have said the cuts are necessary so it is highly unlikely that Labour councillors will voice a different opinion. So, if Labour councillors are not going to defend local people against government cuts, why did local people vote for them?
Furness Against the Cuts will be asking local people this question, and more, in the coming weeks and report responses in future postings.
Experience on the street suggests people of this borough have yet to be significantly affected by government austerity measures although everyone now pays more for most things owing to the rise in VAT (Value Added Tax) to 20%.
In a couple of months' time there will be a flood of 16 year olds looking for jobs or places at colleges of further education - but there are no jobs, the EMA (Education Maintainance Allowance) has been scrapped and, in some cases, free student bus travel has been discontinued. This from the Evening Mail, Thurs 26th May From September, the students will have to cough up £350 for an annual travel pass unless they are from a low income family.
Some of these young people will experience the frustration of the Jobseekers' Merry-Go-Round of "I can't get a job because they want someone with experience - but how can I get experience if I can't get a job?"
We have been informed that the DLA (Disabled Living Allowance) had been reduced for one elderly person. If this has happened to one then it must have happened to others but, so far, nobody else has come forward to report a cut in their benefits or a reduction to the services upon which they rely. Pensioners have had their Winter Heating fuel allowance reduced but, so far, nobody is complaining.
The council is 'pleased' that it managed to avoid raising the level of Council Tax for residents of the borough this year but this was achieved by digging into reserve funds. These reserves will not be available next year so Council Tax is likely to rise substantially in 2012.