Councils Defy Cuts Demand: The Week That Was September 27 October 3, 1979

Pope John Paul II conducting the open air mass at Dublin's Phoenix Park, Ireland.  Photo: PA
Pope John Paul II conducting the open air mass at Dublin's Phoenix Park, Ireland. Photo: PA
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TWO Yorkshire councils defied the Government this week by throwing out plans for massive cuts in spending.

The decisions, by Leeds City Council and Kirklees Council, were both taken by a combination of Labour and Liberal votes. The Conservatives were the largest group on both councils but did not hold an overall majority.

Leeds councillors were applauded after the decision by 300 council employees and pressure groups who had lobbied them to vote against the £8m in proposed cuts.

Cutbacks in school heating and provision of swimming lessons for children were among the measures thrown out, and a Tory proposal to increase council house rents by 15 per cent was also defeated, but a Liberal amendment of an eight per cent hike was approved.

Labour said the Government’s demands for cuts had to be resisted otherwise more would follow. Tory councillors said the rebellion would cost citizens 2.5p in extra rates payments.

Kirklees councillors rejected cuts of up to 10 per cent, and instead passed a standstill budget.

Hopes for an early end to the ITV pay strike faded with the news that key technicians’ union the ACTT was to reject the employers’ latest offer of 39 per cent.

The seven-week-old dispute, also involving two other technicians’ unions, was said by ITV to be costing it £1m a day in lost advertising revenue while programmes were off-air.

The ACTT’s sticking point was said to be payments attached to the introduction of new technology.

Pope John Paul II drew a crowd of 300,000 to hear him speak in Drogheda during his visit to the Republic of Ireland this week, calling on people on both sides of the border to end all violence and return to “the ways of peace”.

The 57-year-old pontiff made the appeal soon after touching down at Dublin Airport, where he was met by Irish President Dr Patrick Hillery and religious leaders. It was the first time a serving Pope had visited the country.

He addressed a throng of 1.25 million in the capital’s Phoenix Park, before moving on to Drogheda, close to the Northern Irish border.

He said: “I appeal to young people who may have become caught up in organisations engaged in violence…Do not listen to voices which speak the language of hatred, revenge, retaliation.”

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist MP Enoch Powell was rebuked by the Archbishop of Canterbury, after Mr Powell had denounced the prelate for “encouraging IRA murderers”.

He had accused Dr Donald Coggan of saying – in his sermon at the funeral of Lord Mountbatten’s grandson Nicholas Knatchbull and the Dowager Lady Brabourne – that the union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland must be “exterminated”.

The Church of England said Mr Powell had misinterpreted Dr Coggan’s words, which had called for the extermination of all violence.

Fifteen-year-old Nicholas Knatchbull had perished along with his grandfather, Lady Brabourne and crew member Paul Maxwell, when their fishing boat was bombed by the IRA off the coast of Donegal.

A new report by Amnesty International claimed that half a million people had been victims of political murder in a decade. It accused governments of “committing or acquiescing in” murder and the disappearance of thousands more people.

The human rights organisation listed Argentina, Ethiopia, Guinea, Guatemala and Uganda as among the worst offenders, and called for the immediate abolition of the death penalty by all governments.