Labour To Ban Illegal ‘No Cuts’ Council Budgets In Bid To Protect Councillors From Deselection

Labour councillors are to be barred by the party from setting illegal ‘no cuts’ budgets.

The reform, part of a package of rule changes put before the annual conference on Tuesday, follows moves by leftwingers to pressure local authorities not to set budgets.

The rule change is in part aimed at protecting councillors from deselection threats from Jeremy Corbyn supporters who want more ‘radical’ action by town halls to prove they are opposing the Tory government.

Under the proposals, which have been approved by Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), councillors who vote against or even abstain on party policy will face “disciplinary action”.

The rule change, which has been approved by party lawyers and passed to HuffPost UK, states:

“Members of the Labour group in administration must comply with the provisions of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 and subsequent revisions and shall not vote against or abstain on a vote in full council to set a legal budget proposed by the administration.

Members of the Labour group shall not support any proposal to set an illegal budget. Any councillor who votes against or abstains on a Labour group policy decision in this matter may face disciplinary action.”

The rule change is part of a wider package of party reforms, including the landmark decision to expand the NEC to include places appointed by the Scottish and Welsh Labour parties.

But the package also includes the key change to ensure sitting Labour leaders will automatically get on the ballot in a leadership challenge, ensuring that backers of Corbyn have to vote for it.

Some Momentum groups across the country have been agitating for their local Labour councillors to pass ‘no cuts’ budgets that potentially break the law.

The ‘Lewisham For Corbyn Momentum’ group last year lobbied its Labour council to oppose planned closures to libraries and community centres, and started a petition for “a no cuts budget”.

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