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We can stop increase in council tax and protect vulnerable minorities

by Anood Al-Samerai on 22 February, 2017

I feel very scared about politics at the moment. As a woman, as someone who is half Iraqi and as a Liberal with Liberal values about fellow human beings.
But I also feel motivated. And angry. And more determined than ever to fight the corner of the residents of this borough who need it the most.
Throughout history, it is the different who have been persecuted. The disabled, the immigrants, the minorities. The ones who cannot speak as loudly and who are easy targets. And that is why it is the job of all Liberals to make those voices heard.
And so what can we do? Communities here in Southwark will feel the impact of our decisions at the council’s budget meeting. They are the ones to whom we need to send the loudest, strongest message. Not just to our refugee communities, but to all our residents who are stunned and terrified about a global path towards fascism and nationalism which we must must fight against.
That’s why Liberal Democrats are saying that those Councillors in this borough who receive extra special allowances, and I am one of them, should take a pay cut to support refugees.

Gestures are important. This is a powerful and united gesture which, as well as reassuring people, will really make a financial difference to supporting refugee community groups on the ground.

Labour complain that it is just political. It is political. Deeply, symbolically, significantly about the kind of politics we want to see in Southwark.

I put forward an amendment at the budget meeting to cut the pay of Councillors (from all parties) and to contribute this towards refugee community groups. I want our politicans to put aside differences and to be progressive. To put our money where our mouths are.

But complacency has set in in Southwark. The evidence speaks for itself:

1. No Cllr pay cuts, despite costly additional cabinet posts and payoffs for Labour Cllrs

2. Adults with Learning Disabilities literally sold out to developers

3. Increasing council tax instead of cutting waste and making polluters pay

This would be bad in any budget year. But after the last 12 months in politics, we need more than ever local Southwark politics which is not greedy or arrogant or complacent.

A politics which fights the corner of vulnerable minorities – refugees, adults with learning disabilities.

And a politics which is willing to listen to and to respect good ideas from opposition parties or from others in the community.

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