Resolutions submitted to Labour South West Regional Conference

Organisation/CLP – Unison
Subject – Trade Union Bill

Conference believes the Conservative government’s Trade Union Bill demonstrates a clear intent to silence the voice of working people through a transparently partisan attack on trade unions and their historic link with the Labour party, regardless of the evidence and in contempt of conventions on party funding.
Conference condemns the attacks on unions’ political funds as a shabby attempt to undermine their public campaigning voice and the traditional relationship between many unions and Labour.
Conference believes that the right to strike is under threat and draconian measures seeking the names of pickets and restrictions on social media usage are a fundamental attack on human rights and on the right of protest for all citizens in a civil society.
Conference is concerned that allowing the use of agency workers to break strike action will lead to untrained staff carrying out work, potentially leading to unsafe workplaces and services. Conference notes that many councils and NHS Trusts in the South West already over rely on agency workers due to an inability to recruit staff – In 2014 NHS Trusts in the South West spent £59 million on agency workers, up from £12 million in 2010.
32 NHS Trusts (17 from the South West) have recently written to Matthew Hancock MP, Cabinet Office Minister and Paymaster General, to voice their concerns regards the compulsory ending of Check-Off arrangements and the wider negative consequences of this Bill at a time of extreme pressure for the NHS. They recognise that facility time arrangements for local union reps and the deductions of subscriptions through payroll are rightly matters between employers and unions and are the basis for good industrial relations.
Conference agrees with these Trusts that it is counter-productive for the government to stop or restrict these arrangements.
Conference calls on the Labour party in the South West of England to:
1) Work with the trade unions to campaign against the Bill;
2) Request that Labour party members lobby their local councillors and MPs;
3) Request that Labour groups on councils oppose the measures in the Bill and promote the value of good local industrial relations.

Organisation/CLP – South West Wiltshire
Subject – Housing

In view of the housing crisis in the South West, some form of surcharge should be levied on empty and second homes; this surcharge should be specifically put toward Local Authority building programs aimed at providing affordable social and affordable local housing for rent.

Owners of second homes should pay full Council Tax rather than the current 50% rate. The existing planning laws which allow the building of more second home should be amended to discourage the building of more while the housing crisis exists.

Empty private homes which are unoccupied for longer than 3 months should have a local surcharge applied.

Organisation/CLP – Central Devon CLP
Subject – Austerity

Central Devon residents are disproportionately affected by austerity. The Labour Party is the natural alternative in rural areas and we must encourage more residents to approach us:

Central Devon Concerns –

Housing – house prices are high and wages are low, so families are leaving their communities. The Government’s Right to Buy further diminishes social housing stock and new home-to-buy does not help low income families. This will have long-term negative effects for future generations.

Employment – job cuts (cross sector) have reduced household incomes. The lack of housing limits access to employment. Cuts to bus services (plus costly tickets and unreliability) severely affect the ability to work. The economic benefits of tourism are jeopardised by the effects of cuts to Rangers and infrastructure at Dartmoor National Park.

Broadband – reliable broadband is rarely available across Central Devon. This means:
1. Businesses cannot compete
2. Educational attainment is lower
3. Correct healthcare is harder to access
4. Social groups are difficult to contact
5. Accessing essential services (e.g. banking) is limited

Health – Health inequalities are compounded by local hospital closures, shrinking budgets, CCGs in debt and GP shortages.

Communities – All these issues prevent Central Devon’s communities from fully contributing to economic growth, from forging strong networks and gaining access to essential services and opportunities.
The difficulties go beyond farming; Central Devon has escalating social, physical and economic isolation for all its residents. It’s the Labour Party’s determination to help by making our progressive practices and views available and relevant to all.

Organisation/CLP – Taunton CLP
Subject – Tax Credits

This conference deplores the government’s relentless attack on our social security system, which is an attack on the well being of the majority of the UK population who rely on it at some time in their lives, an attack that none of our five Somerset MPs opposed.

In particular conference condemns the cruelty and deception perpetrated by this government through the rhetoric of their ‘national living wage’ and the lie that this will replace tax credits on which so many households in the South West rely to make ends meet.

We support the view that tax-credits should not be used by unscrupulous employers to bolster their profits. We are also aware that many small and medium-size enterprise employers in the region provide jobs in a context of tight profit margins, making it extremely difficult to offer wages adequate to cover the South West’s crippling housing, energy and other essential costs.

We challenge the government to genuinely address the problem of in-work poverty by
a. Adopting the standard National Living Wage as defined by the Living Wage Foundation
b. To require all employers to substantiate claims that this is unaffordable
c. To adopt Labour’s plan to provide genuine support to SME employers to pay their employees a genuine living wage and
d. To adjust tax credits only as and when individuals’ wages increase or decrease.

This is how a party for working people would promote self-reliance and self-respect.

Organisation/CLP – Co-operative Party
Subject – Navitus Bay Offshore Wind Park

Conference regrets and opposes the Government’s decision not to proceed with the Navitus Bay offshore wind park, between Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight.

Had this been approved, Dorset would have been playing its part in supplying innovative sustainable energy that would have reduced the country’s reliance on fossil fuels.

We believe the creation of jobs, work and prestige would also have had a great benefit for the Dorset community plus worthwhile employment for the local workforce and economic environment.

The loss of this vital initiative will be felt for many years.

Therefore, Conference calls on Labour and Co-operative Party MPs to request the Government to reconsider their decision regarding the Navitus Bay scheme.

Organisation/CLP – Bristol West CLP
Subject – Fracking

As part of Bristol’s Green City 2015, Bristol West requests that action be taken to urge the Mayor to make Bristol a Frack-Free City and urge all surrounding Local Authorities in the South West to follow suit.

Following the U-turn by the Government on the protection of Britain’s environment and Labour’s commitment to stop shale gas extraction going ahead until there is a system of robust regulation and comprehensive inspection, there are still genuine and legitimate environmental concerns over shale gas.
We request Labour South West to publicise this widely and include it in our portfolio of green and environmental policies for the Region

Organisation/CLP – USDAW
Subject – Sunday Trading

This conference condemns the decision to include proposals that will lead to the extension of Sunday trading in the Cities & Local Government Devolution Bill at second reading on 14th October 2015 as a betrayal of a pre-election commitment by David Cameron whose office wrote in April that “we have no current plans to relax the Sunday Trading laws”.

Conference recognises the overwhelming evidence that longer Sunday opening by large stores will not lead to increased spending or more jobs, instead causing closures of smaller stores which are relied on by communities, especially people who do not have a car.

Conference notes that respondents from the South West to USDAW’s survey of staff in large stores were overwhelmingly against extending Sunday Trading, with many already under pressure to work more Sundays than they wish.

Conference further notes that retail is the second largest sector in the South West with the proposals depriving the 253,600 people working in retail of precious family time and also that longer Sunday opening hours will lead to more staff in transport, distribution, catering and security being required to work on Sundays.

Conference acknowledges that over half of council Chief Executives recognise that their council will be pressured to allow longer Sunday opening if neighbouring authorities do so.

Conference therefore calls on Labour MPs and Councillors in the South West to reject the Government’s proposal for devolution of Sunday opening hours as ‘fake devolution’ which will lead to longer Sunday opening, thus harming families and communities.

Organisation/CLP – GMB Wales and South West
Subject – Voter Registration and its impact on Parliamentary boundaries

The GMB/This conference condemns the gerrymandering that is taking place by this Tory Government, with regards to the changes being made to the way individuals register to vote, and the unacceptable way that these changes will be used to reduce the number of Parliamentary Constituencies across the South West.

It is clear that these changes have one objective and one objective only, and that is to carve up the Parliamentary seats to reduce the opportunities for opposition parties including the Labour Party, to win overall control of Parliament in the future.

This is an affront to our basic principles of social justice and fairness and we as a Party, working with like-minded groups across the South West, should make the general public aware of this sleight of hand, and campaign to stop this anti-democratic practice from taking place. We should also campaign to get members of the public to check that they are on the register, to get them to register to vote, and to vote Labour in next May’s Elections.

Organisation/CLP – SERA
Subject – Transport

Conference resolves that the national budget for Public Transport must be increased to provide more effective, efficient and affordable public transport in the UK and recognises the benefit to the economy through reduction of the cost of congestion (£4.3B in 2012), the benefit to society giving more social inclusion and better public health with CO2 and NO emissions reduced.

The current budget is one of the lowest in the EU in one of the most densely populate countries. An increased budget would also provide for public ownership of the rail network and services.

Organisation/CLP – GMB Southern
Subject – Bus Companies

GMB -This Conference deplores the actions taken by bus companies in the South West in cancelling some bus routes, especially in the rural areas where a bus is often the only means of transport for many pensioners and disabled who are bus pass holders. Conference asks the South West Labour Party to do all in its power to halt the demise in services to many communities in the South West.

Total – 10 Resolutions Submitted

Branch & Labour Party Organisation – a grassroots approach

Following the last two successful Bridport Labour Party Branch meetings, it has become increasingly clear that members not only want the Party to be more open, but that policy must over time come from the bottom up. Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Eagle made this very clear at Annual Conference. Angela promised a review of the national policy forum aimed at reaching out further and involving members more fully, and Jeremy has been saying that there is now a need for change. However, if one looks at the present structure of the Labour Party, any chance of change in the short term seems unlikely, and so change will have to be driven by Branch memberships.

For example, given the geographical size of our Constituency, what should be the role of the Constituency Party if decisions are coming from the bottom up? Here if Branches have agreed policies, should Branch decisions on policy matters take precedence over Constituency decisions? A further question posed is how are Branch policies arrived at? At present Branch Officers can control policy in that members in the past did not attend meetings. But if decisions are to come from the bottom up, it should be the Branch members who drive policy. To this end, I would ask members to think as to how this could be achieved? For myself, I would support the setting up of policy committees to discuss issues such as the NHS, education, public transport and equality. The main Branch Officers would not be involved in these Committees, and these sub Committees would put their recommendations to a Branch Meeting for the membership to either accept or amend. This in turn will make Branch meetings a real political event with the membership driving policy from the bottom up.

Richard Nicholls (Chair)