Britain’s second city, Birmingham, declares bankruptcy. The municipal council can no longer meet its financial obligations and it denounces the government’s budget cuts. Responding to this effective failure of Labour-run Birmingham City Council, Green Party co-leader Carla Denyer said:
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. Over the next two years, at least 26 councils in some of Britain’s most deprived areas are likely to follow the same path and the Local Government Association has warned that councils in England will face a funding gap of almost £3 billion just to maintain services standing still.”
One year before the next legislative elections, this announcement from the Municipal Council of central England, which manages the public services of more than a million people, a number without equivalent in the country (London is divided into boroughs), came to fuel the accusations of neglect of public services targeting the “Tory” executives who have succeeded one another for 13 years.
“Thirteen years of Tory austerity have left the daily local services provided by councils in ruins. This problem cannot be solved without additional revenue,” said the co-leader of the Green Party.
Since last Tuesday, Birmingham has stopped funding non-essential services, but all contracts already signed will be honored, several sources say. Labor City Hall does not define what constitutes a “non-essential” service for its million residents, but parks, roads and cultural services are likely to be affected.
Elected officials must meet within three weeks to vote on a new amending budget in the largest local authority in Europe.
Labor Mayor John Cotton explained that he had taken this “necessary measure” to return to a healthy situation. He questioned several exceptional expenses, such as a conviction for violation of the law on equality between men and women, as well as the installation of a new computer system. But he also denounced the drop in funding granted by successive conservative governments and the cost of living crisis.
For Carla Denyer, this situation should serve as a wake-up call for Labor. For her part, she thinks it is time to tax the super rich who have seen their wealth explode in recent years, in order to provide extra money to maintain vital public services.
The leader of the Greens group on Birmingham City Council, Councilor Julien Pritchard, also blamed the crisis on poor management by the local labor authority.
“Our Labour-led Council has suffered a terrible fate, but they have also played it very badly. They have completely mishandled an equal pay crisis, with terrible consequences. Ordinary Brummies should not have to pay for Labour’s waste,” he said.
The Conservative government, heavily trailed in the polls by Labor, has been accused of neglecting the issue despite known risks since a school ceiling collapsed in 2018. It also appeared to shift the blame to the municipalities and schools, to minimize the problem, Rishi Sunak presenting as reassuring news the fact that 95% of establishments were not affected by this concrete.