By Ritchie Hunter
“Footfall at closed One Stop Shops has fallen dramatically since lockdown!”
Without doubt, Liverpool City Council face a dire financial situation. Government cuts since 2010 have had a drastic effect on their income. This year, they say, they have to cut a further £15.4 million to balance the budget, and they’re asking ‘Key stakeholders’ for feedback by 13 February. [See here: https://liverpool.gov.uk/budget]
You need to be a Sherlock Holmes to find your way through the council’s labyrinth of confusing online documents. So it’s no wonder that hardly anyone knows what’s going on with One Stop Shops. The very people who need consulting about plans to close them – the users – have been cut out.
The council’s own report on the impact of the closures says that the growing elderly population, vulnerable people and those who have disabilities will be disadvantaged. So obviously the council have asked these groups what they think. Well actually no, because these are the very people who have trouble getting online. Just to add to the confusion there’s a replacement plan for One Stop Shops to ‘pop-up’ [See here: https://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/] here and there.
Four centres have already been closed: the city centre, Norris Green, Wavertree and Garston. All without proper public consultation. Unison [ https://action.unison.org.uk/ ] are fighting to save the remaining four in the Dingle, Old Swan, Kirkdale and Speke with 40 jobs at risk.
The council are in a bind. Setting a balanced budget on 4 March will reduce services and lead to job losses. But going along with Tory cuts has had a devastating effect on our communities and services with more to come. It’s time to make a stand and produce a budget based on needs*, not one that appeases the Tories.
Community protestors from Liverpool Against the Cuts will be outside One Stop Shops next Friday, 12 February, from 12 noon.
More on ‘Needs Budgets’ at: https://www.liverpoolagainstthecuts.com/campaigns