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STEPHEN HEPBURN: Labour council being hammered by Tories’ cuts

Chancellor George Osborne.
Chancellor George Osborne.

Downton Dave has more brass in that posh neck of his than all the bands at the Durham Miners’ Gala.

His Bullingdon-bred shamelessness would make anyone ashamed, but he was lucky enough to win a May general election victory on the back of just 24% of the electorate.

Cameron’s latest scam is to stuff the medieval House of Lords with Tory cronies, which is a Conservative coup to create an unelected right-wing chumocracy. That is why I want to see the House of Lords completely scrapped.

But nowhere is the Tory Party’s commitment to unfairness more clearly demonstrated than in its attitude to our local Labour council.

A warped Conservative ideology which doesn’t appreciate public services where local answers to local problems generally sort things out.

Since 2010 the council has been absolutely hammered by cuts brought in by the Tories which hurt our neighbourhoods, whether you live in Jarrow, Hebburn or the Boldons.

My admiration grows every day for our councillors battling a Tory onslaught from London that is as callous as it is cynical.

Chancellor George Osborne’s so-called difficult decisions are difficult for us, not the Tory toffs.

It is our council which is fighting hard to sustain services – from care and housing to schools and bins – despite a £120-million Tory spending cut since 2010.

Don’t tell me it isn’t politically motivated when the loss, equivalent of £202 a year per South Tyneside resident, is more than FOUR times deeper than the national average in England when the Tories increased funding for true blue Windsor with its castle, wealth and Cameron’s old school Eton.

South Tyneside’s Labour council is performing miracles to sustain great services. Avoiding compulsory redundancies when 800 jobs needed to be shed is a tribute to fine and caring management. And it’s fantastic the council still finds the energy and vision to look to the future, redeveloping and showcasing our area when a weaker local authority could be buried by the Tory onslaught.

Who is to blame if more jobs are lost? The Tories. Who is responsible if rents rise? The Tories.

Our Labour councillors here on South Tyneside are, despite all of this, doing an exceptional job in hugely difficult circumstances. I know them and I know they care.

Their priority is in ensuring the most vulnerable people in our community are protected as best they can be from the effects of these cuts.

That they face criticism is to be expected when we are experiencing cutbacks the likes of which we have never seen. They know that. It goes with the territory.

But I’m proud of the hard work and dedication shown by our local Labour councillors in the face of this challenge. I am also very privileged that the public showed its appreciation by electing a Labour council and MPs. Thank you and please join us!

Social justice and fairness, an economy working for us all instead of a tiny wealthy few, are great causes. And here on South Tyneside I stand side by side with the local Labour Party members who are in the front line of that fightback.