Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

The demo was great last night I thought, especially given that we are now in the long hard grind of the 3rd year of cuts, and services have been cut, coworkers made redundant, and contact with friends and families lost. We wanted to highlight the deep cuts to children’s services that have already taken place by building our own adventure playground on the steps of city hall. We painted a backdrop over the weekend while leafleting for the demo

backdrop

And the miniature inflatable playground gave everyone a taste of the joy that the lost adventure playgrounds once brought Lambeth’s kids

kid

We created a library backdrop as well, as our libraries are still on the block. Only a small delegation was allowed in of course, though many joined us in the gallery. Public speaking isn’t quite my forte, but this is what I did my best to say:

Good evening Mr Mayor and Councillors. Thank you for agreeing to listen to me.

My name is Andrea Gibbons and I am speaking on behalf of Lambeth Save Our Services.

We set up Lambeth SOS in 2010 because we could see the cuts that were coming and we could see the damage that they
would do.

Over the past two years you have made £66 Million in cuts, and they have done real damage.

We have lost the Park Ranger:s.

We have lost the Ethnic Minority Achievement Team.

Two years ago,  I was there when the former Leader promised that no Adventure Playgrounds would close – but if you visit our Parks this weekend you will see the tragic sight of deserted Adventure Playgrounds standing empty. There is nothing more tragic than a deserted and locked up playground.

At the same time you have made more than 550 redundancies and outsourced 100 jobs, jobs belonging to friends of mine, and half of them to Southampton.

These have been some of the effects of the cuts so far.

Now you face making cuts of £108 Million over the next four years, most of which have yet to be planned. These cuts will devastate our services and our communities and throw hundreds more workers on to the scrap heap of unemployment.

We all know two things about these cuts.

First, they arise from the policies of Central Government, who are forcing through spending reductions not to reduce the public sector deficit, because they haven’t and won’t, but in order to destroy our Welfare State.

Secondly, this is not a poor country that is short of money.

Seventy years ago, after the Second World War, when we had far less, the Attlee Labour Government created many of the services which are under attack from this Government.

If they could do that then, we do not need to tolerate these cuts now.

The cuts to our jobs and services are a political attack upon our communities by a Cabinet with a majority of millionaires.

Lambeth SOS believes that Lambeth, the whole borough, all of us, should fight back against this political attack.

And that includes you Councillors.

We believe that, instead of planning only how to live within the ever tighter financial limits which the Government set for you, you should be leading the fight against these cuts.

The Co-operative Council is not going to be an antidote to these cuts – particularly not when your next step is going to be to appoint three new Commissioning Directors each on more than £100,000.

Labour Councillors have rightly taken a strong line in opposition to the threat to Clapham Fire Station. We think you should fight just as hard to protect all our services.

I think that if you are going to set a budget which makes further cuts that you should not meet in this chamber.

I think you should meet in one of our closed down Adventure Playgrounds so that you can reflect upon the consequences of your actions.

Whatever you decide, Councillors, there are citizens and staff who will resist further cuts, whoever is making them.

In reply they said everything I said had been true, we were facing something unprecedented, we had to lobby the central government…but in response to our request for a council that will lead us in the fight? I’m afraid I don’t really see them leading much of anything.

But we will continue to fight, Lambeth residents and staff.

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On the 23rd February Lambeth Council meets in full to vote on its proposed budget and we, Lambeth Save Our Services, will be protesting against it, just as we did on the 7th February when hundreds protested at the last cabinet meeting.

What is getting cut?

Almost every council service, anything up to 1000 council workers, 25% of all staff, this includes:

  • The entire park ranger service
  • The entire school crossing patrol service which serves 24 schools
  • More cuts in Children’s Services
  • Libraries budget slashed – staff cut, Nettlefold hall closed, four of nine libraries under cuts consultation
  • Discretionary freedom passes for adults with mental health problems
  • Regeneration schemes on housing estates
  • Cuts and privatisation in adult social care
  • Lambeth and Lewisham Colleges to merge – massive cuts to local education
  • Reduction in highway maintenance levels and potholes
  • Rent rises whilst there are less staff to keep estates safe, clean and in decent state of repair
  • Maintenance of the borough’s parks, cemeteries and crematoria is to be scaled back.
  • Street cleaning levels reduced
  • Many cultural events scrapped
  • Three out of four Public toilets to close
  • 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.
  • Any much more. For more info see the council website (400+ pages!) or check this websites for Cutswatch updates

What is the alternative?

Most importantly Lambeth SOS believes that our local democratic representatives – councillors –  should not implement government cuts they openly disagree with. Lambeth Labour, who run Lambeth Council, admit that the government cuts to the budget are ideological. We agree – these are cuts made by a Conservative (and Liberal) government made up of millionaires who believe huge public service cuts and big business are the way forward.

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Next Wednesday is going to be our big protest against the councils shocking cuts budget, but there is lots to do in the mean time.

The week ahead

Tonight (Thur 17) is our regular planning meeting – 18:30 at the Vida Walsh Centre in Brixton. Please come along and help us plan for Wednesday and beyond. Beforehand we will be leafletting in Brixton, 17:45 onwards – can you help us?

Between now and Wednesday we plan to have daily stalls/leafletting/petitioning events – Please come tonight to volunteer or get in touch if you can help, just a couple of hours makes a huge difference.

On Saturday is Carnival Against Cuts organised by our friends over in Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance. It would great if people from Lambeth SOS could attend, make links and show solidarity. Please take some leaflets for Wednesday

On Tuesday (22 Feb) Southwark Save our Services have organised a protest NO to ALL CUTS to Jobs and Services! Lobby the Council, 6pm Southwark Town Hall, Peckham Road SE5.

Of course on Wednesday is our lobby of Lambeth Council. Bring home-made banners, instruments, costumes, placards & whistles – Anything you can to make it an exciting night.

Then Next saturday is The Lambeth SOS benefit Gig night in Brixton, Featuring The Alabama 3, The Black Smock Band and Tiny Birds. Please get tickets from the planning meeting or get in touch. more info is available on the Facebook event

 

UPDATE – Another event that may interest people

Special event at the Ritzy cinema, Brixton– Sunday 20th February, 4pm

Charles Ferguson’s Oscar-nominated documentary Inside Job, a highly critical and hugely entertaining attack on the banks and whole financial system is showing at the Brixton Ritzy from Friday 18th February. The Boston Globe called the film “a masterpiece of investigative nonfiction moviemaking — a scathing, outrageous, depressing, comical, horrifying report on what and who brought on the crisis. Scarier than anything Wes Craven and John Carpenter have ever made.”

Following the 4pm showing on Sunday 20th February at 4pm British documentary maker and author of The Debt Generation, David Malone, will be answering questions raised by the film. David’s book, like Ferguson’s film, is a hugely critical and entertaining attack on the banks and the whole financial system.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS union, had this to say about the book: “The Debt Generation cuts through the cosy consensus that there wasn’t an alternative to the bank bailouts and is a timely reminder that it was the activities of the finance sector, not the public sector, that caused the global economic crisis.”

Further details including a trailer of the film and excerpts and reviews from the book can be found at: http://www.debtgeneration.org

There were only 90 tickets to get into city hall last night, thus limiting democracy to 90 people only. Police hovered along our entry, as we waited in line to get into Room 8:

And that’s the last illustration I’m afraid, as I was told politely that no filming or pictures were allowed inside.

Steve Reed kicked it all off by telling us all that the evening was NOT a forum, but instead a cabinet meeting, which is held in public. They had allocated an hour of comments for all the issues up for discussion, and each speaker was requested to limit their comments to 3 minutes each. Like the cuts, the more time the council gave you, the more time they took from someone else, forgetting that the time limit, like the budget, is completely arbitrary. They tried to keep it business as usual, but that’s not quite what happened; these aren’t the times for business as usual.

First we sat and listened to the councillors report back on how the cuts would affect their various areas. They thought the national government was wrong to impose these cuts, they claimed the cuts were heavier in inner city areas, and it was particularly egregious that they should be frontloaded as they were.

They emphasized that there would be even more cuts, and a lot more pain, in the years to come.

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Park Rangers Cut in Budget

Posted: February 6, 2011 by lambethsaveourservices in Cutswatch
Tags: , , , ,

Lambeth is proposing to cut the park ranger service completely. The Rangers in Lambeth are fantastic and have helped us a lot – organising events and getting things done.

They have one of the best community park services in London and it would be a shame to lose them.

Please consider signing a petition to keep them.

“Save the Lambeth Park Ranger Service”: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/savetheparkrangers/

 

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.

Lambeth Save our Services are protesting against the proposed council budget by holding a demonstration at the next council cabinet meeting at 6pm on Monday 7th February outside Lambeth town hall.

We want as many people to come to show the council that we are serious about fighting their proposed budget from which the South London Press estimates a quarter of council staff will lose their jobs. Invite friends and colleagues, bring kids and family, make posters and banners – this is going to be huge!

Lambeth’s Labour run council has already asked all staff to consider voluntary redundancy which shows how desperately they want to cut staff and services. They claim the budget will hardly affect front line services by cutting unnecessary services and slashing back office staff yet all school crossing staff and park rangers are likely to lose their jobs as well as many staff who work hard behind the scenes to support front line services. There cannot be such deep and drastic cuts without huge consequences to our local community – we need to fight these cuts and now.

We call on the council to refuse to carry out the Conservative-Liberal Democrat cut in council funding and deliver the services we actually need. Not only does the current budget impose many cuts, it does nothing to tackle enormous senior management pay (£220,000 for the chief exec!), wasted money on expensive consultants, badly negotiated external contracts and a housing ALMO (arms length management organisation) that desperately needs to brought back in-house to save money and jobs. This budget will be bad for Lambeth!

So please get involved with Save our Services and come and demonstrate on Monday 7th.

Download the leaflet and circulate to everyone you know. Printed copies available – get in touch.

Join the event on Facebook and invite everyone you know.

We will be leafletting and running stalls in the run up so please come and say hello and help out.

  • Thursday 27th Jan – 5 till 6.30pm – Oval tube, Stockwell tube station
  • Friday 28th Jan – 5 till 6.30pm – Oval tube, Stockwell tube, Brixton tube stations
  • Saturday 29th Jan – 11am – Streatham high street – probably by the Odeon

Loads has been going on at Lambeth SOS and it’s about time to publicise it!

On Monday 17th January 2011 the Labour Party councilors met in the town hall and voted on the provisional council budget (ironically the consultation meetings start the next day – local democracy eh?). 39 of the councillors agreed the budget (more details on this for follow). Lambeth SOS, Lambeth Unison, Right to Work, Lambeth Trades council and others were on the steps letting our councillors know they should not pass on ConDem cuts to the people of Lambeth.

On Tuesday 18 January 2011 people from SOS went to the first of 2 Council budget consultation meetings took place (the next is today). There is a good discussion of what happened on urban 75 but basically £37 m in cuts, 600 jobs to go. Having a consultation meeting after the budget has been decided looks really bad for the council and its hard to see how much influence these meeting will have. Come to our demonstration on the 7th feb when the council cabinet votes to make our voice heard!

We had a planning meeting on Thursday 20th Jan. Really good turn out of about 25 people from loads of organisations and lots of new faces. we are getting bigger every week and  The main topic was our demonstration on the 7th Feb at the town hall. We are going to build for this really hard and we want hundreds of people to come along to show the council how we feel about their budget. Full minutes to follow but provisional key info about the budget:

  • 1-200 jobs gone/going this financial year at the council and 600 next year (from april) to be cut, that’s  35 million or about 15% of staff. This will devastate many services.
  • All school crossing wardens to go.
  • All park rangers to go.
  • Lots of money cut in libraries including likely job cuts.
  • Deep cuts in back office staff – call centres and customer centres included.
  • Several services to be prepped for hand over to voluntary sector.
  • Entire workforce offered voluntary redundancy.

So pretty grim stuff. To fight this we need everyone to come on the 7th Feb and be heard!

Council Budget docs available here http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/Services/CouncilDemocracy/Consultations/BudgetConsultation.htm

Overview:  Scrutiny of the draft revenue and capital budgets 2011/12 – 2013/14

Full info (called appendix 1 – are they trying to hide it?): http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=26412 9

Capital spending info – big project money (appendix 2): http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/moderngov/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=26419

ALSO – We will be promoting SOS today in Brixton and Streatham with stall so please come and say hello and help out. We will also and attending the consultation meeting today and leafletting tube stations all week. to help out email lambethsaveourservices@gmail.com.