Why Labour should take control of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

In May of this year, despite losing the General Election, the Labour Party in the North West, and in particular locally in Blackburn and Darwen performed well and showed its policies were supported by the majority of the electorate.

In Blackburn Labour made significant gains and is the largest party on the Council with 31 seats. Despite this, the rag bag of other parties including the Tories and Liberal Democrats managed to coble a coalition by agreeing a number of back room deals and engaging in the usual “pork barrel” politics that has become their trademark. Those of us in the Labour Party predicted it wouldn’t work and that it wouldn’t last and we have been proved right.

In the last few weeks after hundreds of ordinary Blackburn citizens took to the streets in protest of the Coalition’s policies to slash services including closing Shadsworth Leisure Centre and our Community Centres two members decided they had had enough and have resigned from the Coalition.

Although these two members have chosen to sit as independents the Labour Group is faced with a dilemma. Should we wait till next year when we are likely to win a majority of seats ensuring we can take overall control of the Council or should we act now?

All members of the Labour Group entered politics to protect their communities and make things better for the people who take the time to support and vote for them. We have seen in the three years that the Coalition has run the Council the damage they can inflict on our communities and neighbourhoods. They have cut vital services, increased fees and charges, withdrawn bus routes and cancelled popular events enjoyed by all such as Arts in the Parks. They are closing Shadsworth Leisure Centre and the Community Centres and they are undertaking a number of reviews that we know will lead to scaling back in key area such as libraries, social services and education and are cutting the valuable PCSOs who protect our communities.

That is why we must try to act and act now.

The Labour Group has agreed that once everyone returns form their summer holidays the Council should meet and a vote of no confidence in the policies of the Tory led coalition will be debated. If, as we expect, the motion is carried the Labour Group is prepared to take control of the Council in order to sort out the mess we find ourselves in.

We know it won’t be easy but we owe it to the people of Blackburn and Darwen who voted for us in their thousands to take responsibility and represent their interests including trying to protect the most vulnerable who rely on the Council’s services.

We are sure the vast majority of Blackburners and Darreners will support us in our endeavours.

Author: Kate Hollern

Kate is the leader of the Labour opposition group on Blackburn with Darwen Council.

5 thoughts on “Why Labour should take control of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council”

  1. Why on earth do labour want to gain control? Whoever is in charge will have to sack staff and close services. Yes you can try and blame the national coalition but everyone
    Knows at the end of the day the people in charge
    Will get blamed. My advice to Labour would be to keep the coalition in power so they can make the cuts which would devastate the lib dems in particular & then gain power with a landslide in May. Sometimes you nee to concede the battle in order to win the war.

  2. Please restore the cleaning service! The streets are becoming worse than places in Burnley (which is infamous for dirty streets).

  3. We all know that difficult and possibly unpopular decisions will need to be made over the coming months but the Labour Party has a duty to the public of Blackburn and Darwen to take charge of these decisions. In May the public voted emphatically in favour of Labour – they made it clear that they believed that Labour was the Party that should be in charge of the Council.

    As long as we are in opposition the Tories will make cuts that are unfair and unjustified – Labour needs to take charge of the issues.

    Remember Blackburn with Darwen had one of the highest levels of cuts imposed on it by this Tory Government – in spite of the fact that it has amongst the highest levels of deprivation in the country and needs continued investment. It’s clear to me that the Tories don’t care about Blackburn and areas like it.

  4. But are you going to tackle some of the bigger problems with the funding mess we have now in Blackburn? There’s no sense. I know of people at local community and leisure centres, not on much wages, facing the sack to save money. At the same time, councillors spent 2 million quid just this year on giving out free leisure passes to all and sundry. And I’m told they’re going to keep doing that into next year – after everything’s shut?! What are they doing?

  5. Obviously as Labour aren’t in control yet we’re not in possession of all the financial facts. However, I would say that with regard to the £2 million for free leisure (Refresh) my understanding is that this money is from the Primary Care Trust and is ring fenced so the Council could not use it for anything else.

    Labour has been clear on Community Centres – we will do everything we can to support those who wish to keep them open. What’s sure to me where the Tories are concerned is that the 4 centres currently proposed for closure/withdrawal of support are just the first in a series of plans to work through all of the Borough’s community centres ‘withdrawing support’. I should add that all of the Community Centres in Blackburn with Darwen were built when Labour was in Control of the Council. No Community Centres have ever been built under the Conservatives and I doubt they ever will.

    There’s a clear distinction between the two parties – Labour want to invest in communities – the Tories prefer to leave people to fend for themselves.

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