Friday 12 July 2024
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Nottingham: Protest in the city ahead of Leaders’ Debate

Nottingham protesters have called on the next Prime Minister to end a ‘crisis’ in council funding ahead of the final election leaders’ TV debate being held in the city.

Resolve Nottingham and other groups met to demand an end to local authority cuts ahead of Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer’s meeting in Nottingham this evening (Wednesday, June 26).

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They face each other in a final head-to-head hosted at Nottingham Trent University and broadcast live on BBC One from 8.15 pm.

The debate is seen as a crucial point for Conservative Prime Minister Mr Sunak and Labour’s Sir Keir to win votes ahead of next Thursday’s General Election (July 4).

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Around 30 people gathered at the Brian Clough Statue on Old Market Square on Wednesday morning to try to drive attention to local issues ahead of the debate.

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Protest organiser Adam Pickering said local government funding challenges – which led to Nottingham City Council effectively declaring bankruptcy last year – have been ‘forgotten’ during the General Election campaign.

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“I want to know what [the leaders’] plan is. Birmingham, Nottingham and councils up and down the country clearly have funding issues,” he said.

“That plan should be led by citizens and assemblies, engaging the talent and people who want to make a difference in the city.

“We really can’t afford to lose any more services. We can’t go on like this – we need a better deal.

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“No one’s been talking about it during the election campaign, but if we just brush it under the rug, we will see more councils bankrupt and more services taken away.”

Des Conway of Save Our Services said: “The national spotlight is on Nottingham, and we need to talk about the systemic underfunding to Nottingham City Council over the years.

“I would say to the next Prime Minister that your first 100 days have got to include emergency funding to councils who are suffering massively through cuts to libraries, youth services and cultural facilities.”

Councillor Shuguftah Quddoos (Lab) was the only councillor to defy a party order to vote for the cuts during a crucial budget meeting in March.

“We have to find our rebellious spirits. It’s the time to stand up and be counted,” she told protesters.

“We have to find our community spirit and prove that people have the power in our city. Not councillors, not MPs – the people who want to protect services,” she said.

“We cannot and should not pay the price for a system that is broken.”

The council approved sweeping budget cuts and around 550 job losses in March to help close a £35m budget gap.

It issued a Section 114 notice in November 2023, warning it would be unable to meet its legal obligation to set a balanced budget.

Campaigners against the cuts delivered a petition with more than 11,000 signatures to Downing Street earlier this year.

A spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said at the time: “Councils are ultimately responsible for their finances and will see their overall funding for the upcoming financial year increase to £64.7 billion – a 7.5% increase in cash terms.

“The government has also provided Nottingham City Council with further financial flexibilities so it can balance its budget and deliver vital services.”

@westbridgfordwirenews Nottingham protesters have called on the next Prime Minister to end a ‘crisis’ in council funding ahead of the final election leaders’ TV debate being held in the city. . #nottingham #westbridgford #nottinghamshire #summer #foryoupage #fyp #nottinghamnews #uknews ♬ original sound – West Bridgford Wire News

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