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 They have cut vital services, increased fees and charges, withdrawn bus routes and cancelled popular events enjoyed by all such as Arts in the Parks.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.