The Labour leader Ed Miliband made a speech this morning launching his Party's campaign for the council elections. The speech generally steered clear of local government issues.
But he did say:
Labour councils are working to keep your costs down.
This is an odd claim to make. On average, across all tiers of authority, Labour councils charge £66 more on Band D Council Tax than Conservative councils. It is true that most Labour councils have accepted the Council tax freeze. Jolly good show. But Labour opposed the incentive for a Council Tax freeze being offered.
Anyway Miliband went on:
In Manchester, despite having their budgets cut, the council are keeping every Sure Start centre open which helps keen childcare affordable.
In Newcastle, Labour councillors have kept libraries open, so families can afford to find a book to read to their children.
And just up the M42 in Gedling, the council is helping keep mortgages and parking affordable….
Labour councils and councillors across the country are already showing there is another way.
In Liverpool for example, a Labour council is creating more than a thousand new apprenticeships and building more than two thousand homes.
While Manchester have abandoned plans to close Sure Start Centres (they have now said they will continue to have that "designation" although the buildings will also be used for things.) Miliband did not mention that the council has planned to axe their day care provision:
They have resolved to:
Cease to be a provider of universal day care services in a phased and sequenced manner over time as there is confidence in the quality and coverage of provision.
Much better to leave it to the market:
It is arguable that the Council’s day care operation may be having an adverse impact on the functioning of the day care market within the city discouraging investment and growth. For example 6 of the 10 largest national day care operators have no provision within Manchester.
Also Public Libraries News reports that Newbiggin Hill Library in Newcastle is being demolished. It says that opening hours in 12 libraries are being cut and suggests that these "skeleton-staffed" libraries should also be counted as closures.
Gedling is increasing the Council Tax by a referendum dodging 3.4%. So the "free" car parking is being paid for that way.
The reference to apprenticeships in Liverpool failed to acknowledge the crucial support of central Government.