‘Middle Ages’ cattle grazing for council grass cutting...

‘Middle Ages’ cattle grazing for council grass cutting dismissed as ‘wacky’

06 November 2013
Councils are being urged to return to the Middle Ages by The Taxpayers’ Alliance which wants grass cutting of council parks ended and replaced with grazing sheep and cattle.

Unite, the largest union in the country, said that the self-appointed and unelected alliance was today (Wednesday 6 November) proposing a number of ‘wacky’ ideas in their 201 ways to cut  council’s budgets, at a time when 500,000 local government workers earn less than the current ‘living wage’.
Other unrealistic ideas, in the document produced by Tory Hammersmith and Fulham councillor Harry Phibbs, were a word count limit on council reports and rewarding council tenants for carrying out their own repairs

Unite, which has many electricians as members, pointed out that electrical repairs would require a skilled professional, otherwise lives could be endangered. The same would apply to elderly residents fiddling about trying to repair their gas boilers.

Unite national officer for local government Fiona Farmer said: “The credibility of the Taxpayers’ Alliance has to be seriously questioned when ideas taken from medieval times, such as grazing sheep, are wheeled out in its endless quest for publicity.

“Has the alliance worked out how much it is going to cost to buy these animals and pay the substantial veterinary bills? The prospect we face is hundreds of these animals freely roaming around municipal parks ignoring health and safety considerations when children are playing – and being a prime target for urban rustlers.

“Councils are already looking at sensible ways to save money while trying to maintain services for often very vulnerable people against the swingeing cuts on council budgets imposed by Cllr. Phibbs’ fellow Tory, communities and local government secretary, Eric Pickles.

"After a three year pay freeze, job losses and cuts to terms and conditions, local government workers are the lowest paid in public services – their pay and conditions are being taken back years, although not quite as far, yet, as the Middle Ages.”

The local government unions, including Unite, yesterday (Tuesday) launched their pay submission, seeking a £1 an hour minimum increase to bring the bottom rate of pay in local government to the level of the ‘living wage’.

Half a million local government workers earn less than the current ‘living wage’ and a million earn less than the coalition's 'low pay' threshold of £21,000 a year. The new ‘living wage’ of £7.65 and £8.80 in London was announced this week.

For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.