Group launched to oppose public service cuts
A CAMPAIGN group has been set up in Darlington as it faces the prospect of huge cuts in its public services.
It follows a recent announcement by the leader of the borough council that the authority was being forced to trim £22m from its £107m budget.
Coun John Williams said the savings, which were being imposed by the coalition government, would “decimate” public services.
Up to £11m of savings may have to be made in the first year.
In response to the announcement, trade unions in the town are hoping to join forces with community activists to oppose any threat to public services.
The Darlington Against Cuts group is being sponsored by the Darlington Trades Union Council.
Darlington council GMB steward Alan Docherty said that the organisation was for people from all walks of life who would be affected by the impending cuts, not just for members of trade unions.
Mr Docherty said: “We set up this because we realised the trade unions can’t fight it on their own.
We need to link with the community, particularly those affected by further cuts.
“What we need is a public service alliance to join up with the community.
“We’ve got to give a clear message to the Government and the council that these cuts are too much.”
Last week, representatives from the group handed out leaflets at a demonstration against the possible closure of the Forum Music Centre in the town.
Mr Docherty said: “That was one of the first demonstrations there’s been and it will probably be the first of many.
“We’re in a bit of a funny time, as the real cuts won’t start circulating through until about Christmas.
“Then people will be shocked as I don’t think people realise what these cuts will mean while they’re just figures being bandied about.”
Once enough people have expressed an interest in the Darlington Against Cuts group, public meetings will be called, said Mr Docherty.
Representatives from areas under threat such as social services, the arts or leisure would then work with the trade unions to fight the cuts.
Darlington Borough Council declined to comment.
Anyone interested in getting involved with Darlington Against Cuts can call 07715-881901 or email nessn.teesvalley@ ntlworld.com.