Congratulations are due (Overdue -Ed) to one of my local councillors.
Cheryl Nevin, Labour councillor for Milton, has impressed me since I first met her, clipboard in hand, knocking on doors in her election campaign on an overcast and blustery autumn day. I know that I am not the only Milton resident with a favourable opinion of her; I have knocked on the doors of many, to be greeted with warm words and admiration for Cheryl.
Her latest achievement is a motion before the council, calling on the government to crack down on some of the £120 billion lost to tax avoidance. The motion is part of ActionAid’s “Towns Against Tax Dodging” campaigning, and has now received the backing of the cabinet — which, given the fact that it consists of
three parties two parties and a “group”.
So provided that no councillor objects and calls it in to full council, it will be adopted by Southend Borough Council.
There is a perception that a councillor or a council can do little ultimately to influence national policy. And maybe that’s right. But I’ve always maintained that the key role of a councillor is to be a voice for their residents. In this, Cheryl is fitting the brief and then some.
I fully expect that the Conservative-led government will pay no heed to Southend. But given that the council has been forced to deal with nearly £12 million of cuts, which when compared to other councils under different political control feels downright punitive, to do anything but speak out against the abhorrent failure to tackle endemic tax corporate tax avoidance would be a disservice to the town.
And let’s not forget that HMRC is still a major employer in the town. Investment in tax inspectors to track down the missing billions could benefit Southend twice over: in swelling the public purse and lessening the cuts inflicted on local government, and in potentially bringing a raft of new jobs to the town.
If you’re not a resident of Southend, then you can call on your council to support the Towns Against Tax Dodging campaign here, on ActionAid’s website.