Welcome to my July newsletter. The past month has seen the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, the tentative reopening of many retail outlets and a gradual return to everyday life. Sadly, this week also saw Luton Council having to enact an emergency budget due to the government’s going back on its promise to do “whatever it takes” to support councils through the COVID-19 crisis.
The past decade of cuts to the local government grant has forced Luton Council to maximise its commercial income. Predominantly this included utilising Luton Airport to bring in additional income to the council and create thousands of jobs across the region. This income has been used to support vital frontline services and provide donations to local charities. The sudden collapse of income from the airport will impact out town’s most vulnerable, as the funding shortfall will impact the local services and charities that they rely on.
I have been lobbying the government for months to provide Luton Council with crisis funding to replace the lost income from Luton Airport and avoid these cuts and job losses. This has included writing to government ministers, speaking in parliamentary debates, submitting written parliamentary questions and raising Luton’s situation in the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee. I also presented a community petition to Parliament. The petition, organised by Luton community action group and signed by 10,000 local residents, called on the government to provide crisis funding to Luton Council. I then asked the Prime Minister to meet with me to discuss the situation. I am yet to receive a response.
So far, all these appeals have fallen on deaf on ears leaving the council with no other option but to enact the emergency budget on Tuesday 14th July. I will continue to pressure the government to save our services and protect jobs.