As this was the first anti-cuts meeting for a few weeks because of the local elections, it was only appropriate that the meeting began with a review of the elections, the anti-cuts election pledge in particular. Every single candidate for the district council in both North Devon and Torridge was sent a letter and copy of the pledge. Of these, 10 candidates signed the pledge. Of these, two won, Joanne Bell and Rodney Cann. The task now is to give every assistance to these two councillors outside the council chamber so they can fight the cuts inside the council chamber. Following discussion of the pledge, there was a vote of thanks for Peter Jordan for his work publicising the pledge as spokesman.
We will also be attending every full council meeting in North Devon District, in the interests of transparency, to check (and publicise) how all councillors vote, as this is not recorded and made public at the moment. The election, the count and the post-election wranglings and horse-trading show that there is a smug, complacent political elite in North Devon, that regardless of whether they are Lib Dem or Tory, will pursue much the same policies, and ignore the serious problems that we have in our area.
The only Liberal Democrat that came close to signing the anti-cuts pledge (Michael Nelson, North Molton) did not get elected. He was the only Lib Dem to respond to us. Only a few Tories responded, all negatively. We will now endeavour to spread the concept of the pledge to other anti-cuts groups nationally.
From the council chamber to the streets – we resolved to hold a protest march in defence of public services in Barnstaple around the end of June. If you or your group/union would like to join us in the planning of this march, please contact us. As soon as we sort out the details of this march and rally, they will be on this website.
An update was then given of the situation with the Government’s plans to destroy the NHS – contrary to media reports that the plans were on the back-burner, the latest stage in the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill was passed in the House of Commons last night – with not a single Lib Dem voting against. The next meeting in Barnstaple, on Tuesday 24th May, at 7pm in the Yeo Room of the Civic Centre, will be mainly about the Save the NHS campaign.
Fittingly, the meeting ended with Paul Dyer playing us the Andrew Lansley Rap – the link for that is here, there is a lot of swearing, but of course the real obscenity is Lansley himself and his plans for our NHS.