Cuts campaigners demand the heads of Dudley leaders as budget battle gathers pace (From Stourbridge News)
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Cuts campaigners demand the heads of Dudley leaders as budget battle gathers pace
10:40am Wednesday 26th February 2014 in News
ANGRY campaigners are demanding the resignation of Dudley’s leaders as the row over council cuts intensifies ahead of a crucial budget meeting.
The Labour-run council will next week debate a three-year spending plan which proposes £33.6m in cuts after reductions in grants from central government.
Dudley Coalition Against Cuts has turned against former allies from the Labour Party to call for new political leaders to fight harder for more cash.
Coalition members took their message to the steps of Dudley Council House ahead of a meeting of the authority on February 24 and called for the heads of senior council cabinet members including deputy leader and finance chief, Cllr Pete Lowe.
Jerry Langford, spokesman for Dudley Coalition Against Cuts, said: “These cuts are going to savage what we have come to expect from the council, it’s the wholesale slashing of services.
“It’s a sham, people like Pete Lowe two years ago were standing on these steps campaigning against cuts – where are they now?
“There is not the wherewithal or wit to fight it, the council’s leaders should resign, they don’t need to co-operate with the government.
“Two years ago they knew these cuts were coming, they won an election on the basis of being against cuts, we are saying why aren’t they fighting them?”
The Coalition Against Cuts is calling for local authorities to join together to force the Westminster government to reverse cuts to local authority grants and find the extra cash by pursuing big business and rich bankers for uncollected tax.
Cllr Lowe hit back hit back, insisting Dudley Council was in daily contact with central government and other local authorities but some of the protestors’ arguments were unrealistic.
He said: “We are committed to getting a fair deal for the people of Dudley, you don’t do that just by waving placards but by holding this government to account.
“Whilst doing that we have to take a responsible position to protect the most vulnerable in society.”
He added the government’s communities secretary, Eric Pickles, would replace elected politicians with administrators if the council failed to balance its books.
Cllr Lowe said: “If we did what the protestors call for there would be no local government in Dudley, Pickles has made it clear he would remove the democratic process and bring in officials.”
Dudley Council's budget debate will be on Monday March 3.