Saturday, 26 February 2011

Hundreds protest council budget

On Wednesday night around 300 protesters lobbied Lambeth councillors to vote against the Labour-led budget. The demonstration was organised by a wide coalition of groups in the borough, including public service and voluntary sector workers facing redundancy, disabled people, youth workers, pensioners and others who rely on the continuation of vital services.

As the scale of the protest became clear, the councillors retreated to an adjoining room to vote through the cuts while demonstrators occupied the council chamber and held our own People’s Assembly.

It was an impressive example of people power. The scale of the demonstration and the enormous support from people passing by will have sent a potent message to the council, and perhaps also to Parliament.

But the draconian budget was passed all the same and now we face a long, hard struggle to protect vital services in the face of massively reduced budgets.

What is getting cut?
  • More than 800 of the council's 3,500 jobs
  • The entire park ranger service
  • The school crossing patrol service, serving 24 schools
  • Durning, Waterloo, Carnegie and Minet libraries, plus two mobile libraries
  • Youth clubs, adventure playgrounds and the Young and Safe programme, which combats youth crime
  • All but one public toilet facility
  • Regeneration, management and repair on housing estates
  • Adult social care and discretionary freedom passes for adults with mental health problems
  • Street cleaning and repairs
  • The noise nuisance service
  • The Faith Engagement Programme
What is the alternative?
  • Bring the failing Lambeth Living ALMO (the external housing management firm) back in house, saving millions
  • Cut all senior management pay – the chief executive earns £270k a year, enough to staff an entire library!
  • Reduce council fuel bills by making our schools, libraries and other buildings more energy efficient
  • Reduce the millions spent on expensive private-sector consultants
  • Use council reserves to reduce the impact of the front-loading of the cuts and allow time to make improvements
  • Cut down on glossy PR and council spin
  • Work more closely with other public sector bodies to cut admin costs

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