Save our Services in Surrey

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The group Save our Services in Surrey (SOSiS) have been active for several years now and represent a range of political parties and ideas on the left of the spectrum. The thing that ties these diverse individuals together is a desire to fight for our public services in the county and an understanding that austerity is an ideologically-driven agenda that is wholly unnecessary.

Woking Labour Chair Barry Faulkner and newly elected vice chair Vicki Kirby have been attending meetings of the group in a personal capacity with a view towards building broad-based campaigns against austerity and attacks on council services.

On February 11th Barry (above, standing) spoke as part of a panel  at a SOSiS meeting in Staines discussing “Corbynmania: keeping up the momentum”. The meeting was well attended by over 40 local people, and other speakers included Sean Hoyle, President of the RMT Union, and a junior doctor from St Peter’s Hospital.

A wide range of groups were in attendance, including Momentum disabled members, the Socialist Party, the Greens, Plane Stupid environmental campaigners and a Labour PPC. All those in attendance recognised the things they had in common and though there were also issues dividing individuals, everyone agreed to get behind the Labour leadership where possible, especially when it came to fighting attacks on the NHS and other essential public services.

We may come at issues from slightly different angles politically, but there is more that unites us than divides us. The entire meeting gave a rousing ovation to Holly, the junior doctor who spoke, and the justice of the doctors’ cause was universally accepted.

SOSiS will continue to campaign on issues of importance to Surrey residents, such as the “Justice for Zane” campaign seeking answers to the death of seven-year-old Zane Gbangbola in his family home in Chertsey in 2014.

Canvass alert

The borough elections and Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner elections are on May 5th this year, so from now on please just turn up at Owen House on the days and times shown in the events calendar on the right of this page  to join in with some canvassing.

In addition Owen House is open every Tuesday and Wednesday 6.30-8.30pm for telephone canvassing. Again, just turn up! Ringfence a couple of hours each week to help raise Labour’s profile in our key seats. The personal touch wins the votes every time. “One to one” reaches all those Labour voters the best. If you have not done it before, it is an enjoyable exercise and you will have plenty of help.

Could you be a councillor?

With elections coming up in May, why not consider standing? We need candidates who will speak up for their residents and who are, as they say, “people who like people”. Talent or potential talent of this sort should not stay hidden. As the best way to raise the Labour vote is always to talk to people one to one we need to get our candidates out there and TALKING!

Get in touch with our Secretary Ian Greatorex at secretary@wokinglabour.org as soon as you can and ask any questions you may have.

Whistleblower to talk at AGM

Blacklisted This year’s Annual General Meeting on February 10th will be followed by a talk from Dave Smith, co-author of “Blacklisted”, about a recent legal victory against the blacklisting of workers in the construction industry.

Dave Smith lost his job as an engineer after leading a series of on-site health and safety campaigns at work, earning him the reputation as a trouble-maker in the eyes of his employers. As a result he was put on the industry blacklist – an illegal list held by bosses containing the names of at least 98 people in the South West – and was unable to find work for ten years.

The AGM is your chance to help vote in an Executive Committee until next February and to hear a report back on a year in which Labour made gains in both the general and borough elections but made unexpected losses in two by-elections. There has been a huge surge in membership since the elections and since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader, which has given us a greatly improved base with which to fight the next elections.

Doors and bar open 7pm, AGM 7.30pm, Dave Smith 8.30pm

Housing crisis – it’s about to get worse

Woking Labour were in the town centre on Saturday talking to people about the Housing and Planning Bill which is in the process of travelling through the House of Lords.

This is a devastating bill that will mark the beginning of the end of social housing, and push families into severe poverty. It does nothing to secure the future of families or ease the housing crisis.

Many people stopped to talk to us about their situations, and all said the same: they are struggling with extremely high rents, or unable to move out of their parents’ house at all, having to raise their young children in crowded conditions.

We desperately need more council homes, and controls on rent. While this government is trying to reduce welfare spending, the huge unregulated rents landlords are charging force people into needing Housing Benefit to top up their earnings. This bill will only increase this need, by raising rents to unaffordable levels. The selling of the ‘high value’ public owned housing stock, and passing the revenue from the sale straight back to central government instead of staying in the borough, will only squeeze our local budget further.

Local Authorities are facing increasing cuts to their budgets and unable to provide crucial services to its residents. Now, more than ever, we need to keep our council houses safe, to provide secure homes tuat people can actually afford.

Please contact us if you would like to join us, or pop by and let us know how you feel.