INDEX August 28, 1987

GREAT RATES DEBATE

Angry trades council leader declares: 'the rate-cap doesn't fit district'

Reports: SALLY BLAKEY

WALTHAM Forest Council's ratecapping could lead to massive job cuts in the borough, fears the district trades council.

The losses will mean some services, which only months ago the council deemed essential for the area's well being, will have to go.

This will affect both the morale of the remaining workforce and public support warns trades council secretary, Bob Tennant, in an open letter to council leader, Neil Gerrard.

In his letter, Mr Tennant encourages all members of the local labour and community movements to "unite in resistance."

He said: "We need more action, not less, to provide decent housing, nurseries, education. cleansing, equal opportunities, old people's homes , community planning, and so on.

"Parliament must acknowledge this and assist with the costs."

He voiced fears that services would deteriorate if the council was forced to make cut backs and leave vacancies unfilled to cut costs.

And he blamed the government for trying to cut the council's budget by nearly a fifth -- £29 million -- and taking it below the level allowed by the previous Tory council.

"We think the government is using this year's rate rise as an excuse to reduce our community's ability to decide for itself and to shift the blame for its cuts onto the council."

The ratecapping move was intended to "bully and cow" people into accepting a dictatorial "big brother" state, he added.

Mr Tennant begs Mr Gerrard NOT to prepare for cuts, but instead to join with local workers and residents in demonstrating an overwhelming support for the services.

"We must convince parliament that the 'ratecap' doesn't fit Waltham Forest," he said.

The trades council represents more than 18,000 local working people in nearly 60 trades union branches.

Council leader Neil Gerrard admitted that if the present level of ratecapping was allowed to remain the council would be forced to tighten its purse strings and unfilled vacancies would be unavoidable.

"But the last thing we want is redundancies and we shall be doing everything in our power to avoid this happening," he said.

The letter from the trades council was an attack on the government for setting a completely unreasonable ratecapping limit and not a criticism of the council, he added.

"The more we can get local trade unions and other groups to realise just what ratecapping means, the better chance we have of putting sufficient pressure on the local MPs to get the level that has been set changed," he said.

Subject to scrutiny
Services subject to scrutiny are:
Refuse collection
Street cleansing
Horticultural maintenance (tending of parks, playing fields, trees etc)
School meals, meals on wheels and other catering
Office cleaning
Repair and maintenance of the vehicle fleet.
Yellow Advertiser August 28, 1987.