The need to vote Labour writes former Burnley MP Peter Pike.
I fought my first local election in a multi member ward in Surrey and came bottom of the poll in 1960. I won at the third attempt in 1962. In 1963 I became agent in Burnley when it was a County Borough and had real power over many services – many of which went to the County in 1974. In 1976 I was elected to Burnley Council. Just after the election I had to go to London with the then Leader John Entwistle when local government was told by the then Labour Government we all had to cut our expenditure. It seemed at the time a very difficult exercise but there really was a lot we could cut without affecting services at that time!
When I was Leader we could still spend money up on things like the Mechanics on which we spent over a million pounds to bring a derelict building into use. We did, of course, carefully control the budget and worked out what the maximum was we could put on the rates at that time. We also bought Queen St Mill to protect it not just as a local building of importance but a part of our national heritage. It was all done urgently under emergency powers – but that would not be possible now.
We see this Tory Government squeezing and squeezing more and more and attacking the most deprived and needy areas the most. They are, in my view, destroying local government and their latest plans for education are a further example of their political dogma.
Whilst our Councillors have very limited powers now due to appalling actions of this Tory Government I have no doubt at all that the local cuts would be much worse if we were to let the Tories win – or indeed any of the other parties contesting the elections on May 5th this year.
It really is important that we in the Party do all we can to ensure a Labour victory at these elections and that the people of Burnley turn out to VOTE LABOUR.