Hundreds rally against the Labour Cabinet’s cuts

Posted: February 8, 2011 by lambethsaveourservices in Demonstrate, Rally & Occupy!, Labour Party

250 people crowded around the entrance to Lambeth Town Hall, last night for the Save Our Services lobby and demonstration against cuts in Lambeth. The rally was lively and inspiring with a range of speakers including local trade unionists, the Labour Councillor fighting the cuts, service users and young anti-cuts campaigner Yasmin (6 years old).

copyright urban75.org

A  march from 336 Brixton Road, the base of many of Lambeth’s disability organisations which are facing enormous funding cuts, joined the lobby.

Protesters chanted Save Our Services! and No Ifs! No Buts! No Public Service Cuts! as passing cars tooted their horns in support. The Cabinet, too afraid to face the people whose services they were cutting,  limited access to the meeting by issuing only 100 tickets and refusing to allow an empty overspill room to be opened. The remaining protestors left out in the cold, whilst the council made cuts, marched behind the Save Our Services into the traffic intersection and blocked the traffic outside the Town Hall.

Whilst the traffic stopped outside, inside the meeting Labour councillors heard from local activists who argued against cuts which will destroy our community.

Kingsley Abrams, Labour councillor for Vassal ward spoke against the cuts and of the need for the Labour councillors to join the anti-cuts movement. Other Labour councillors voted through the cuts saying there is nothing they can do, to cries of “shame!” from the crowd. So at SOS we’ve produced a list of some of the things they should try – Bring the ALMO back in house (money saved, no reduction in service), use some of the council reserves (money saved, no reduction in service), pay back the pension deficit over a longer period (money saved, no reduction in service), cut senior management pay (money saved, no reduction in service), cut astronomical councillors allowances (money saved, no reduction in service), terminate over-paid and under-worked consultants (money saved, no reduction in service), stop letting cowboy contractors rip the council off (money saved, no reduction in service). But most of all stop hiding behind police lines and passing on cuts and join the people, you are supposed to serve, in fighting them.

UPDATE: Report from inside

A rowdy, crowded audience jeered and heckled as council leader Steve Reed read out the budget’s £37 million service cuts and closures, and 600-1,000 job losses – at one point he threatened to adjourn the meeting to avoid public derision. After each cabinet member read out the detail, we were given one hour – for 100 of us! – to reply. Six or seven Loughborough Junction youngsters led off demanding, “Don’t close our adventure playground!”
As others followed (teachers, tenants, black activists, pensioners), it got angrier until Kingsley Abrams called for mass opposition to the cuts, upon which Reed called Abrams “a disgrace” and all hell broke loose. Does not Reed know that the labour movement was built on sacrifice and struggle for future generations? Clearly not, because suddenly the police were in the room. We shouted the police out of the room and followed soon after – not even bothering to wait for their vote of utter betrayal.

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Photos copyright Martin LeSanto-Smith

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