Lambeth Save Our Services is proud to support the following demonstration
You can download this poster in .pdf form here
Lambeth Save Our Services is proud to support the following demonstration
You can download this poster in .pdf form here
The London Fire Brigades Union have called a demonstration against the closure of Clapham Fire Station
Demonstrate – Don’t shut London’s Fire Stations
Thursday 16th May, 6:30pm
Assemble Brixton Fire Station, Gresham Road
March to Lambeth Town Hall for the consultation meeting
We need help to get the word out:
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
And the miniature inflatable playground gave everyone a taste of the joy that the lost adventure playgrounds once brought Lambeth’s kids
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
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.
Known as Los Años Dorados to those of our elders for whom this day centre is a lifeline, today they turned out in force to Phoenix House in the first action to preserve it.
Day centres provide a resource for the entire community, build well being, create a place of safety and ensure that someone is watching out for each and every one of our seniors. I find it so infuriating that Golden Years is being cut, particularly as it serves a community for whom English is a second language and who are even more at risk of isolation.
But I confess I am inspired by my elders.
Yesterday was absolutely brilliant, was it not? I was still bouncing up and down when a handful of us arrived at the Westminster Arms to toast the day with the some of the folks from the Bakerloo RMT branch. We only heard last meeting that they’d affiliated to Lambeth SOS, so it was grand to get to know some of them better. But that’s jumping ahead, so back to the beginning.
The South London feeder was a tremendous success, for all the trials and tribulations and lack of democratic process over the final route. The police reported we had 5,000 people there, so you know that we had more. I’m going to miss people from this list because there were so many groups there, so apologies! Southwark SOS, Lewisham Anticuts Alliance, BARAC, Colacor, all the South London union branches, pensioners, teachers, No Cuts for Kids…and more. Amazing.
What else did we have? The best trojan horse I have ever seen, labeled the TUC Armed Wing. Ha! It was a stallion actually, as Ali swears it was anatomically correct. I’m just sorry, as I know you are, that I can’t provide photographic proof.
I hope you caught some of the activist art on the billboards along the way, I loved the one transformed into a giant legal bust card, (you can see the one featuring David Cameron here); some one has been doing some good work!
The decision to head over Westminster Bridge rather than Blackfriars was a really good one; we had no trouble at all, and we could see the hundreds of thousands of people slowly moving towards Hyde Park.
I was holding the other end of this Colacor (Latin American Colation Against the Cuts) banner for much of the way with a companero from the Latin American Workers’ Association, and originator of my favourite chant of the day: Esto no es marcha, esto es protesta, carajo! (roughly this is not a march, it is a protest damn it). As you can see, the banner cramped our photography style just a little, so I handed the camera off to Paris for a quick shot from on high when we joined the main march:
I’m afraid I never saw Paris again. But the crush of people was glorious and I did see and dearly love the full brass band
The fire brigade from the Isle of Wight with their drum, the folks with the Robin Hood hats, the balloons and the gorgeous banners from all over the country. Most of all I just loved the beauty and immensity of it all:
This last shot I took in the late afternoon as we were leaving after a much needed rest in Hyde Park. I can’t even remember what time it was, but it must have been getting on for 5 pm and people were still streaming into Hyde Park as you can see. We thanked our stars for taking Westminster Bridge and joining the march nearer the beginning than the end. They’re saying half a million people in total but I can’t believe it wasn’t more:
I also got up to Oxford Street for a bit, getting there just too late for UK Uncut‘s action against Topshop, but I did join the revolutionary milling about for a while. Click here to read just why Topshop is a target, and why I personally was quite happy to see this:
Central London was an amazing place this weekend, almost empty but for a handful of confused shoppers, protesters, and riot police.
Just check out the nonchalance of London towards riot police! It was immensely surreal, but surely not business as usual. I don’t think it has been business as usual for a long while, I think that is something we should congratulate ourselves on.
UK Uncut went on to occupy Fortnum and Mason’s as well. Just after I had grown tired of milling about, sadly. You can read the press release here, and a very moving eyewitness account from a new activist who was there. There’s also plenty of live video footage to contradict the reports in the press of violence and mayhem. The police caused the damage, but, you know, it’s Fortnum and Mason after all. As my favourite tweet of the day says: @simonblackwell: According to police, £15,000 worth of damage inside Fortnum & Mason. Someone knocked over a jar of olives.
I know there’ll be a lot of contradictory opinions on the violence of yesterday. For myself, the violence really at issue here is that of the government against the people. It’s in every job cut and every service lost, and the job cuts run into the tens of thousands. For those of us with personal experience of the immense pain that come from lay offs and the destruction they can cause to people’s sense of self, their families, and their communities . . . there is no way to stand by and do nothing. Dismantling the welfare state is nothing if not intensely violent.
This is why we must continue to fight tooth and nail against all of it, from the sackings of RMT reps Arwyn Thomas and Eamonn Lynch (who I met last night, cheers Eamonn), to the cuts to the NHS, to our libraries and librarians, park rangers, public housing and … well, just tell me who and what isn’t getting cut.
Join us next Thursday, March 31st, 6:30 pm at the Vida Walsh Centre in Brixton to see where we go from here. I find myself deeply inspired by yesterday’s march and all of the people I marched with. So now? Now we go back to work to save our jobs and our services.
500 students and teachers from colleges all over London held a vibrant, noisy protest against cuts to ESOL funding outside Westminster at lunchtime, with massive teach-out, theatre workshops, outdoor games and singing lessons.
Refugees and students gathered round the megaphone to talk about why they need to learn English and how ESOL classes change their lives, before marching together to Downing Street to hand in the Save ESOL petition with 20,000 signatures, including Noam Chomsky, Ken Loach and Ken Livingstone.
The protest continued in the afternoon on the UCU demo from LSE and rally at Downing St. 1000 striking teachers and lecturers listened to speeches defending ESOL and multi-culturalism by Jeremy Corbyn MP, an ESOL teacher and 6 students from Hackney College and many others.
The photos and students’ words showed their determination and the day’s actions showed how ESOL students, teachers and refugee organisations across the country are not going to take this cut without a fight.
See more on nationwide ESOL protests and events round the country from BBC London on youtube
on the Action for ESOL website: www.actionforesol.org
Here are more pictures from the UCU strike and the picket lines at Lambeth College (and thanks to Mandy Brown for this post!):
Around 200 people amassed outside southwark town hall today to protest aginst the 33 million in cuts to the council budget. The police tried in vain to only allow a small group with banners in front of the town hall by locking the gates and marshalling people across the road to the designated demonstration area. When the crowd including Lambeth SOS members politely refused a council worker eventually opened the gates and the protest continued.
There were ad hoc speakers from various local organisations and campaigns, including Southwark SOS, trade unions and members of the occupation at Camberwell School of Art. The atmosphere was good with some excellent home made banners.
A number of people went into the public gallery where inside the Labour run council was deciding its budget for 2011 – The government is cutting funding to Southwark by 31% leading to £33 million in devastating cuts to local services.