This is my first blog for a while as the Council has been in recess and people have been on their summer holidays. I hope everyone’s had a good break over the summer. The Council has now returned from recess and politics is in full swing with conference season upon us. I thought we had a very successful conference and came up with some great policy ideas as to how to rebuild Britain and invest in our public realm.
The first Council meeting of the new session was held on Thursday 27th September and I am pleased to be able to report on two significant successes achieved by the Labour Group.
Closure of Council Reception Reversed
The Council has announced that it will no longer be closing its reception to the public on the last Wednesday of each moth for staff training to take place. Whilst we are fully supportive of staff training this was not the way to do it and we have campaigned long and hard against the closures. This included me, Councillors Kate Haigh and Tom Coole attending on the steps of the Council on closure days to advise the public. Hundreds of people turned up and were unable to access vital help & support as the Council was closed. This is the right decision and a victory for common sense and follows good work by Labour Councillors highlighting the problems caused to our taxpayers.
Co-operative Charter on Modern Slavery
Following a Notice of Motion moved by Councillor Kevin Stephens the Council unanimously agreed to adopt the Co-operative Party Charter Against Modern Slavery. This basically commits the Council to make sure it actively monitors its procurement processes to ensure that it does not issue contracts to suppliers who may be engaged in modern slavery practices. If you want to learn more about the charter, click here.
Period Dignity - Provision of free Sanitary products in Council buildings
Unfortunately, our motion to provide free sanitary products in Council premises, (a common practice in several progressive local authorities) was defeated by the Tories. This is a really important issue and not something we intend to give up on. We were challenged to come up with a costed scheme for inclusion in the Council’s budget and this is something we will pursue at budget time.
Looking to the future
There is little doubt that Brexit continues to dominate the national political scene as shown at the Party conferences. Whilst obviously Brexit is of massive concern we must not lose our focus on what is happening to vital public services. Housing remains in crisis with the Tories offering no solutions to the need for a massive Council led house building programme. Social Care is also in crisis and no sign of the long-awaited government green paper on its future.
Children services and education are all vastly underfunded as evidenced by the unprecedented march of Head teachers in London recently. There is a budget in the offing and we must continue to press for proper funding for local government services which have suffered cuts of over 50% in recent years.
Terry Pullen is the Leader of the Labour Group of Councillors at Gloucester City Council.
This is part of a series of regular blogs which focus on events at Gloucester City Council.