Lambeth Council has had 37 million pounds cut from its budget by central government for next financial year 2011/12. On Monday (7 Feb) the council cabinet meets to discuss their budget, with a final vote being taken on the 23rd Februrary. There have been 2 consultation meetings in January where opposion to the cuts was strong but the consultation process was poor at best. The day BEFORE the first consultation 39 of the Labour councillors, who run Lambeth, voted for their provisional budget. When challenged on this in the two consultation meetings councillors refused to explain the budget in any meaningful way, opting instead for small groups discussing community issues. How those meetings can possibly make any difference to the already decided budget I do not know.

Rightly the council leader Steve Reed says he is going to “prioritise services for people who are most vulnerable”. However 800 job loses and 37million pounds of cuts will undoubtedly devastate the lives of the most vulnerable as well as everyone in the borough. “Back office efficiencies” will mitgate the effect of the cuts according to the council. If there are 800 staff twiddling their thumbs in council offices Steve Reed should resign. The fact is we need these people to deliver the good service that Lambeth has in the past, and that is not to say improvements cannot be made. We need the poeple who answer the phones, audit the accounts and support our front line services. Without them quality of service will undoubtedly fall – and that is not acceptable.

However it is not just behind the scenes that are under attack. Front line servcies are facing the axe. Here are the some of the big cuts:

• The park ranger service
• Reduction in highway maintenance levels and potholes
• Less maintenance of the borough’s parks
• Regeneration schemes on housing estates
• The school crossing patrol service which currently serves 24 schools
• Street cleaning levels are likely to be reduced
• Christmas lights and decorations are likely to be stopped and businesses
approached to fund town centre decorations
• Three out of four Public toilets could close with the council instead promoting
its ‘Community Toilet Scheme’
• Maintenance of the borough’s parks, cemeteries and crematoria is likely to be
scaled back.
• Discretionary freedom passes for adults with mental health problems
• Noise nuisance service
• Reduction in the Faith Engagement Programme, which helps to support events
such as Holocaust Memorial Day and Peace on the Streets and other
community events and projects.

[Taken from the council website. More budget information in a previous post]

All this while consultants and senior management are taking home hundreds of thousands of pounds and the “Rudderless” housing department is in dissarray.

This is why we must all Lobby the counsil on Monday to give us a better budget based on the needs of the people of Lambeth. Join us and bring your friends.

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