If Labour was running the council this post would sum up how I was feeling. CllrTim in Bansley is agonising over horrendous decisions being foisted on him by central government cuts. Local government is probably the hardest hit of all departments, and this is after already spending years on efficiency drives. I wish I was in his position. Why? Labour is doubly in opposition at the moment in Reading – nationally and locally. So what am I feeling?
I am feeling rather like many people I know, somewhat helpless and in shock. As the largest group on the council we might be able to influence things a little and we will certainly make our voices heard. However we know from the last two council meetings that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats speak with one voice in the chamber, although to be fair I am sensing disquiet and worry from some of the Liberal Democrat members – outside the chamber at least.
So rather than faced with very difficult choices about services and council staff my Labour colleagues and I are faced with only two things to do. Firstly, and importantly in the short term, make sure that I stand up for my constituents in Whitley and residents in the rest of the town. I strongly recommend that you give your input into the consultation the council are currently running. I have no idea how genuine it is, since the first Labour heard of it was the press release, but at least you will be able to feel that you have given your input. I will be demanding that full results are shared with all councillors, so we will be able to see what people have said.
In the medium term I will work as hard as I can to ensure that Labour takes back control of the council as fast as possible and finally I will work for the return of a Labour government nationally in the long term. Only then can I be confident that cuts will not be met with cheers from the government benches but if any are still needed in 5 years they are done with compassion and a genuine consideration of the impact the will have on the most vulnerable. It is the least I can do to help ensure the sort of Britain I have spent my adult life in will be there for my daughter and the other children of this country.