Croydon Communists Speak Out on the Demise of Local Government

Press Release

Dr Peter Latham, Communist Party local election candidate for Broad Green, said today, “As the local election campaign picks up, it’s noteworthy how little comment there is by candidates on the effective emasculation of local government under the Con-Dem Government. Unless present policies are reversed we face the prospect of what the leader of Birmingham City Council, Sir Albert Bore, calls the ‘end of local government as we know it’. The current formula for local government funding is presenting councils with impossible choices about which services to support and which services to cut. In some cases, major cities such as Liverpool are facing bankruptcy and being forced into a situation where they cannot even afford to pay for statutory social care services.”

“The Localism Act 2011 is the key mechanism used by the Con-Dems to erode local government. Of, course it is doing anything but promote local democracy and should really be called the ‘Centralism Act’! Its provisions underpin a creeping centralisation of many policy areas previously under local authority control. It has removed powers from councils under the guise of enabling ‘Big Society’ charitable organisations to play a greater role at the local level. The real agenda is to shrink the state, slash public expenditure and accelerate out-sourcing of public services.”

The Communist Party supports a range of measures to re-invigorate local government, including:

• Smaller councils and more councillors because England, Wales and Scotland now have fewer and larger ‘local’ authorities than any other Western advanced capitalist country except Ireland
• Repeal of the Localism Act (except the provisions giving councils the right to return to the committee system and all councillors the right to make policy again in England and Wales; those protecting private tenants’ deposits; and the “general power of competence” to expand their functions)
• Abolition of US-style directly-elected local authority mayors.
• The ending of all forms of marketisation, privatisation and profiteering in central and local government.
• Direct provision by councils of locally administered services to revive and develop community participation, accountability and self-government in areas such as council housing and management of schools.
• Capping of councillors’ pay at the average annual full-time earnings in their locality.

Dr Latham said, “Town halls are the lifeblood of local democracy, empowering communities, providing a practical demonstration of direct democracy and offering accountability to constituents. Local government needs rescuing from this wretched Government. The replacement of the traditional committee system with leaders and cabinets or US-style directly-elected mayors has created a brigade of full-time career politicians, which has removed the working class from this layer of local democracy. While over a third of local government services are now marketised or privatised. We need a radical reorganisation of the way local government is financed, based on the needs of each individual town and city; and genuine decentralisation from Whitehall. Vote Communist in the local election to support the fight for local democracy!”

Local residents will be able to hear Dr Latham speak at the hustings organised in Broad Green on Thursday May 15, at 7.30pm at the Oshwal Centre, Campbell Road, Croydon CR0 2SQ.

Notes to editors:
1. For enquiries phone 0208 686 1659 or e-mail croydon@communist-party.org.uk
2. Dr Peter Latham is the Communist Party local election candidate for Broad Green. A former lecturer, he has lived in the area for many years. He is the author of ‘The State and Local Government: Towards a new basis for local democracy and the defeat of big business control’ ( Manifesto Press, 2011) and a longstanding member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee.
3. Ben Stevenson is 29 years old and National Secretary of the Communist Party. He is the Communist Party candidate for Bensham Manor. Since moving to Croydon from his native Birmingham in 2005, he has been heavily involved in local labour movement politics through the Croydon Save Our Schools Campaign, the campaign against the Beddington Lane Incinerator and the Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee. He stood as a Communist Party candidate in the 2012 Croydon North by-election.
4. John Eden is the Communist Party local election candidate for Selhurst. He is 64 years old and a carpenter and joiner. He is a member of Croydon Trades Union Council’s Executive Committee and has lived in Selhurst for 27 years.
5. The Communist Party was founded in 1920 and is part of an international movement involving millions of people in more than 100 countries across the globe.

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