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Manchester: ‘We won’t give up without a fight’

by Mark Krantz

People in Levenshulme, Manchester, have wasted no time in taking to the streets since the council said it would close their swimming pool.

In the week since Labour-controlled Manchester council put forward the plan as part of a £110 million cuts package, activists have built a lobby of over 200, a public meeting of 100 and a 500-strong rally.

“We are determined to save our centre,” local activist Charlotte Smith told Socialist Worker. “Next we will be organising a swim-in.”

“One thing is now clear to the whole world,” she told the rally outside the baths last week, “from Cairo to Levenshulme mass movements can win!”

Breaking

In fact resistance to the council’s brutal cuts is breaking out across Manchester.

The city boasts the first SureStart centre to open in the country, at Clayton Library.

The centres are threatened with closure. Some 70 people protested outside on Friday of last week.

Claire Tomkinson said, “We’re not going to let them just rub it off the list.

“We won’t give up without a fight. We would have been lost without this place. We have a playgroup where at least 50 families turn up every week and we have to turn people away—it’s not underused.”

The massive cuts have shaken up local politics.

Local Labour councillors have joined the protests—but they are finding it hard to explain why they are prepared to implement the Tory cuts they say they oppose.

“We will join the march in Manchester on 5 March, and we are building for [the TUC protest on] 26 March,” said Labour head of children’s services Sheila Newman.

Activists have been collecting names on an anti-cuts petition launched by the Labour council together with the Manchester Evening News.

“It’s important we all show Manchester’s opposition to the cuts by collecting signatures,” said one Unison member.

“But many of us are arguing that Labour councillors should not rubber-stamp the cuts.”

Many council workers are stunned. Housing is set to go from 180 workers to just eight.

But one cleansing worker told Socialist Worker, “The mood lifted when we heard about the Levenshulme march. We need a union leadership prepared to fight like that.”

Charlotte said, “We are part of a growing campaign to stop these cuts. We want the £110 million the Tories have robbed from Manchester back!”


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News
Tue 15 Feb 2011, 18:48 GMT
Issue No. 2239
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