£20billion to wage war could be better used at home
In their election leaflets and in Council meetings, the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats are saying that they will fight to save our local police stations from closure. What they are not telling you is it was their party colleagues on the Metro
In their election leaflets and in Council meetings, the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats are saying that they will fight to save our local police stations from closure. What they are not telling you is it was their party colleagues on the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) who voted for the Estate Strategy that is leading to police station closures across London. Jenny Jones, the Green London Assembly member on the MPA was the only politician who did not support the plans.
A similar situation occurred with the last round of fire station closures. Darren Johnson, the Green Assembly member on the London Fire Authority was the only one to vote against the closures. Here in Camden the LibDem/Conservative administration has cut voluntary sector funding leading to a loss of local service provision. They have also substantially increased many charges including the charges for meals on wheels.
In the Highgate by-election the Conservatives are making many wild claims about how they been sticking up for Highgate, when the truth is their councillor who resigned did nothing of the kind. What's actually happening in Highgate is that our two community centres have had their core grant frozen for three years, effecting real term cuts in funding, other funding streams have also dried up, there is a possible loss of the 20% discretionary rate relief and increases in service charges. The Highgate New Town Community Centre, at the heart of one of the most deprived parts of Camden, is expecting turnover to be £100,000 down in the coming year.
As a result, well run and successful projects are being lost. At a time when there are great concerns about child obesity and an obvious need to give young people constructive things to get involved in, the LibDem/Conservative administration has decided not to continue funding the FRESH Gym's work with young people in Highgate New Town, which was helping them to get fitter and healthier.
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It is important to put the squeeze on local government finances into perspective. The grant Camden Council receives from central government is the key determinant of the provision of local services and level of council tax. In recent years the financial costs of the war in Iraq have been a massive drain on public purse. It is estimated that £7 billion pounds of our money has been wasted bringing death and destruction to Afghanistan and Iraq (and securing additional US oils supplies). The estimated costs though to 2010 including social costs, such as support for disabled service men and women and war pensions, is likely to be in excess of £20 billion.
This money could have been used to improve our quality of living through better public services, better housing and a reduction in taxes such as the council tax. It is worth remembering that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the start of the war - the UN strategy had succeeded. Labour and Conservatives are responsible for squandering this vast amount of our money and the lost opportunities this money could have delivered in terms of better living standards for all.
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Cllr Adrian Oliver (Highgate)
Leader of the Green Group, NW5