Letter from Parliament - Jim Dobbin MP
Date published: 27 December 2010
I begin by wishing every one of my constituents a very hopeful and happy New Year. However decisions taken by the Conservatives who of course dominate the coalition government will make most of our optimistic hopes a misery.
For example the reduction in government grant to Rochdale council of nearly 9% is one of the largest cuts in local government terms. We are seeing broken promises on Health, Education and Policing. All these public services will see real terms reductions. Most of these reductions are unnecessary. We are witnessing a sharp ideological change from public to private sector delivery in every service area. Today we have a bunch of millionaires running the country who have no idea about life among ordinary people.
The Lib Dems in government are shielding the Tories, They moan a bit here and there but essentially are singing from the same hymn sheet. Of course here in Rochdale Council and in other councils around the country the Lib Dems are running for cover like the political minnows they are. They have no backbone, no conviction and have sold their principles for power. They will never be forgiven by the electorate for this.
In education for example the Chancellor has taken away hope and life chances from young people from less well off backgrounds. The reduction in Building Schools for the Future programme will mean 800 fewer new schools and the much vaunted pupil premium turns out to be a complete con. It is not new money but money shifted from existing budgets of one school to another. The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) is scrapped affecting poorer families and schools capital funding is cut by 60%. Taking all the education statistics into consideration there will be a real term cut of 0.6% despite promises of an increase. From January VAT is due to rise to 20%, council Budgets in April will see massive job losses and reduction in services to the public.
A happy new year for many people will be an unachievable aspiration.
The Labour Leader Councillor Colin Lambert negotiated a 50% reduction in the proposed cut to the Petrus led homeless unit from 53% to 25%. This is an indication of how the new Labour council will endeavour to create a fair budget under difficult circumstances. Tory led councils have not been hit nearly so hard. North West Labour areas have been targeted by the coalition government. It was good to meet Shadow Secretary of State Caroline Flint MP when she visited Rochdale for the Petrus announcement.
I missed a few Carol Services this year because of illness and weather conditions. However I managed to enjoy the service at St John’s RC Church Rochdale where Father Christmas appeared with presents for the children. I also was able to read a lesson at St Michael’s Middleton during their Candlelight Service which is always a joy to attend.
I have closed my local office until 4 January but will still deal with emergencies. I begin the new parliamentary term on 9 January in Paris for one day as a new member of the Council of Europe. I will be back in the House of Commons on 10 January. In the meantime I have the whole family staying for Christmas and I am enjoying the break.
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