At our launch meeting we agreed to schedule a discussion on a revised ‘Wigan Borough People’s Charter’ which it is hoped might form the basis of both a common ‘Left’ local election Manifesto in the May 2012 elections and provide the framework for ongoing joint campaigning work across the Borough, alongside the national ‘People’s Charter’, by all those who claim to be ‘of the Left’.
Here is the last draft of it. Please feel free to pass comment on it and to suggest revisions of it. Also to comment on other people’s comments and proposals.
* No to cuts in our Council or other local public sector services. No to school closures and private business sponsored ‘Academies’, PFI Mega Schools or similar proposals which seek to hive off part or all of our public services to the private sector, and/or in the case of PFI, put us in hock to private companies, who will charge us exorbitant fees for decades to come. Defend our Fire Service! Defend the NHS! Defend Royal Mail!
* No to cuts in Council jobs and making local authority and other public sector workers work more for the same or less! Increase the minimum wage. For jobs and decent living standards for all!
* For a major increase in state & municipal investment in the Wigan area to help defend existing jobs & to create new ones. Rather than a guided busway few want, we support the call for a new heavy rail link for Leigh, Tyldesley and Mosley Common to Manchester and Liverpool, as well as for a new rail station in Golborne.
* Stop the asset-stripping/selling-off of Council owned land and property to the private sector. Build 15,000 new ‘affordable’, ‘carbon neutral’ Council-owned homes across the Borough to help tackle the growing problem of homelessness on the one hand, and to help get local construction workers back in to work on the other. Also to help reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming and to fight the growing threat of climate change which threatens us all.
* Additionally, to help tackle the threat of climate change, increasing traffic congestion, and to create jobs and put money back into ordinary people’s pockets, we call for an improved and expanded public transport system that is fully integrated, publicly owned and free at the point of use. All these things to be paid for out of system of progressive taxation which sees the banks, big corporations and the rich generally pay the most and the poorest pay nothing.
* End the so-called ‘arms-length’ management of our publicly owned Housing Stock. Abolish Wigan & Leigh Housing Ltd and restore the responsibility for the management of the Borough’s Council Homes directly to the Council, or alternatively to a new body or bodies, elected by and accountable to local people.
* Improve our existing GP surgeries, clinics and NHS facilities. Stop the huge waste of money on “Super-Clinics’ few want, and which result in most patients having to travel farther to access their GP. Restore the A+E unit at Leigh Infirmary. Fight the closure of Wrightington Hospital or any other local hospital or NHS facility. Fight the hiving off of the NHS to the private sector.
* For real local democracy not the current sham that passes itself off as such. For the introduction of proportional representation in all local and national elections and the right of re-call of all elected officials, so that Councillors and MP’s, if necessary can be removed from office in between elections. MP’s also to be paid no more than the average wage of their constituents plus reasonable out of pocket expenses. All current Councillors allowances to be frozen. All additional amounts paid to Council Cabinet members and Committee Chairs to be axed under current circumstances along with all other profligate spending by the Council.
* We say “Power to the People!” Devolve power and responsibility downwards, give people the right to run and administer their own affairs in their own communities via the establishment of more town or parish councils.
* For the abolition of the remote, overly large current Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council set up and its replacement with two smaller ‘slimmed down’ local authorities, one centred on Leigh in the east of the current borough, and one around Wigan in the west.
We are wanting to involve everyone in the Wigan Borough prepared to stand up and fight, in what we are seeking to do, in the process of which we hope to re-vitalise our grassroots organisations, including our union branches, local community organisations and local trades council.