Posts Tagged ‘London Borough of Lambeth’

I hope everyone is getting ready for tonight’s lobby of Lambeth Council, when every single councillor will make the last vote on April’s Budget.

A few useful last-minute notes:

  • Remember to come in warm clothes and thick shoes – the weather forecast is not great and whilst we want a peaceful protest thick clothes and shoes are advisable against aggressive policing as seen at last weeks Islington Council protest.
  • Whilst it is important to demand that Councillors should refuse to carry out all cuts in service that are a result of a government funding cut they are against, it is also worth arguing that their current budget & policies are wasteful. Lambeth SOS & UNISON have identified many areas where vast amounts of money could be saved without a single service cut. See this earlier post for more info.
  • The only councillor to speak out against the cuts budget, Kingsley Abrams, was thrown out of the Labour Group of councillors this week for “bringing the party into disrepute” – in reality fighting the cuts. We should support all councillors who are willing to fight against the Steve Reed led cuts budget. Background to this labour party fight.
  • There are only 20 seats in the gallery reserved for the delegations tonight because the councillors have packed the second gallery with their supporters and not the community groups affected by the budget. That’s ‘local democracy’ Lambeth style. We will just have to have a huge protest outside.
  • Police will be managing outside, but will not be managing inside unless there is a ‘health and safety issue’. The head of Democratic Services has made clear that the police have no jurisdiction in the meetings and were wrong to enter last time.
  • Bring instruments, whistles, banners and placards, costumes  and all your friends. The bigger the better and the more press coverage we are likely to get.
  • This fight is only just getting started – the cuts will have to be fought at every single service cut over the next year. Come to our next planning meeting on Thursday 3 March and get involved!
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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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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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Contact – Jon Rogers 07957505571

Anti-cuts campaigners call for mass lobby of Lambeth Council as it considers £37 Million cuts package

A packed planning meeting of local anti-cuts campaigners on Wednesday 2nd Feb called upon the people of Lambeth to rally at the Town Hall on Monday evening, 7 February, as the Council considers a £37 Million package of cuts which will cost 600 jobs, including all School Crossing Patrol staff and all Parks Rangers.

“Local people must demand that this Labour Council does not make these cuts,”said local resident Andy Tullis, “we need to be there on Monday night to make sure our views are heard.”

Representatives of local trade unions, pensioners and tenants were joined at the meeting by students and anti-cuts protesters from UK Uncut. Organisers are predicting a large turnout at the lobby of the Council on Monday night.

ENDS

Notes

  1. Lambeth Save Our Services is a local umbrella organisation opposing cuts in public services, supported by the local branches of the UNISON, GMB and NUT unions, by Lambeth Tenants Council and Lambeth Pensioners Action Group. For more information see http://lambethsaveourservices.org/.
  2. The lobby on Monday 5 February will commence from 6pm outside Lambeth Town Hall. Protesters will be dressed as School Crossing Patrol staff (“lollipop ladies”) as one of the Council proposals is to sack all their School Crossing Patrol workers.
  3. Details of Lambeth’s Cuts proposals are included in papers going to the Cabinet meeting available online at http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/Services/CouncilDemocracy/Consultations/BudgetConsultation.htm

 

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/

 

As well as both mobile libraries being axed in the budget, Lambeth Council leader Steve Reed has told the South London Press this week that libraries that could go were those considered too expensive to run. They are

  • the Durning Library in Kennington Lane
  • Waterloo Library in Lower Marsh
  • Minet Library in Knatchbull Road, Brixton
  • Carnegie Library in Herne Hill Road, Herne Hill.

A consultation is to be launched in April to discuss the future of the borough’s libraries.

In the pointless budget consultation meetings finance councillor Paul McGlone said he thought a couple of years was enough to put all the libraries into a community trust as part of the Big Society “Cooperative Council” program so that then the community would own them. (Usually they announce that after the libraries consultation no eh?) Accept he seems to have forgotten that the community already owns libraries – that is why we have local councils and council tax.

Libraries are the absolute front line of communities, where else can children do their schoolwork, homeless people use the internet, people go and read and exchange ideas free of charge? Where can community groups meet for free – those same groups the council so desperately want to involve in their Co-operative Council?

Libraries are the closest local council service most people have, and they deliver a fantastic service on a tiny budget. What they need is more staff and more money, not a cuts program with a glossy Cameron style cover.

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.

Public service trade union, UNISON, has today condemned the chaotic management of Lambeth’s troubled “Arms Length Management Organisation” (ALMO) Lambeth Living.

On the evening of Wednesday 26 January it was announced to the board of the ALMO that the Chief Executive had left. This happened on the same day that staff had been told, in response to rumours, that the Chief Executive had not left and came just weeks after the sudden departure of another Director.

“Housing staff are trying to get on with their jobs, but are being badly let down by senior management and the ALMO Board led by Keith Hill,” commented UNISON Branch Secretary Jon Rogers. “There is no question now but that Lambeth Living has failed and that Lambeth Councillors should bite the bullet and take direct responsibility for the management of council housing in Lambeth.”

UNISON is calling upon Lambeth to stop the ALMO proceeding with damaging cuts to front line services which were championed by the senior managers who have now left.

“Estate Services Officers threatened with redundancy have been out there day in, day out, helping tenants,” said Mr Rogers, “in the mean time some of the senior managers who decided to sack these hard working staff have been leaving. Lambeth Living as an organisation is now a bad joke.”

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

lambeth soso logoChair: Paris. Minutes: Stuart
Present: 12 intrepid activists in snowshoes (around 25-30 apologies because of weather)

Important diary events coming up:

  • Thur 9 Dec: No Fees No, Cuts education march on parliament on day of vote on Fees Bill. Assemble 12.00.noon Malet St. Lobby supported by NUS.
  • 11 Dec Defend Council Housing Meeting, Renton Close Community Centre , Brixton Hill
  • 14 December Southwark SOS protest at Southwark Town Hall, Peckham Road 19.00, night of Cuts Budget, (NOTE: now cancelled)
  • 24 January special meeting of Lambeth Council Cabinet to discuss cuts budget. Voting on cuts budget: 23 February

1. Reports


a) 20 Nov Lambeth conference

: discussed the very useful workshops, Paris still collecting action points. Education group had exchanged emails and were setting up telephone network. Link to student demos and Stockwell Park anti-academy campaign. Welfare Group – discussing setting up a claimants action group, not just the unemployed because benefit cuts broader effecting in work benefits, housing benefit. Talked about having section of website, news-sheet at some point, local film showing with Southwark. Health Group discussed concentrating on the white paper and GP budget changes. Take up issues in patient participation forums. One such Lambeth Link meets at Stockwell resource centre on 17th January and we should attend to put case against changes. Try and link up with Southwark Keep Our health Service Public group at King’s Hospital. Housing Group discussed need to go out to TRA’s (Tenants and Resident Associations) make the case against cuts and for taking ALMO Lambeth Living under council control again. Invited to China Walk TRA in 13 Dec. Possibility of organising Alternative Housing Conference – challenge Council representative to debate ALMO. 29 Jan or 5th Feb possible dates. It was reported that Defend Council Housing having a lobby of parliament on 15 Feb. Also Unison still waiting on date for strike in Lambeth Living over redundancies maybe end January.

Agreed:

 


i.
If a strike was happening then the day of strike might be a good time for a rally/conference on housing in the afternoon, providing enough notice of strike was known – first strike maybe 22nd or 29th Jan.
ii. That the groups from workshops should try and organise in their areas with Thurs meetings an umbrella group of campaign. Contacts for 4 groups:
Education: btinternet DOT com> and (Paris)
Welfare: <RosanneAT lycos DOT com> and and
Housing: <danj23 AT yahoo DOT com> and
Health: <michellesmith1983 AT hotmail DOT co DOT uk> and possibly Teresa (contact through Andy above)

b). Coalition of Resistance Conference Sat 27th


Over 1200 present, useful workshops bringing together anti-cuts activists across country, series of good speakers – National Council of 120 plus agreed, will meet quarterly. Unite Executive has since agreed to back CoR – new Gen Sec McCluskie spoke at conference. (further info can be found at CoR’s website coalitionofresistance.org.uk)

c). Local Labour Parties


Stuart reported that left Southwark and Lambeth (LRC) was meeting Sunday evening. Jeremy reported invite to Streatham LP women’s group Sat 4th morning

d). Lambeth TUC


Jeremy reported that Anton the TUC sec will be contacting Lambeth SOS with a view to working together in future.

e) RMT strikes


Short report and discussion on ongoing RMT dispute over cuts and redundancies. No more strikes till January.

2. Students and Fees struggles

Report on days of action and occupations. The campaign is now focused on a national day of action on 8th December and mass demonstration/lobby of parliament on 9th December when the Coalition is hoping to rush through the legislation. Rob reported on organisation of school students locally.

AGREED:

 


i) Try and get delegates from students especially South Bank to meeting (main campus however is in Southwark)
ii) Lambeth SOS members where they can to leaflet Lambeth FE college students about 9th Dec. demo

3. South London Conference idea


Last meeting agreed to set up working group from Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich, Croydon to examine usefulness of conference of those groups early next year to develop links/action. Croydon now setting up a working group to get this off the ground.
AGREED

i) Stuart to try to set up meeting and work with Ruth on it.

4. Next meeting of Lambeth SOS

Thursday 16th December (this would also be a seasonal drinks type meeting)
Items must discuss: 1. Lambeth Budget meetings 2. Sth London conf progress

Summary of diary items

 


8 Dec Wandsworth launch of Anti cuts group
9 Dec: No Fees No, Cuts education march on parliament
11 Dec Defend Council Housing Meeting, Renton Close Community Centre , Brixton Hill
13 Dec Invited to China Walk TRA
14 December Southwark SOS protest at Southwark Town Hall
16 December next Lambeth SOS organising meeting., 6.30 Vida Walsh
15 January SE TUC day of action against cuts
17 Jan Lambeth Link NHS
24 Jan Lambeth Council Cabinet
End January Lambeth Living strike?
15 February Defend council Housing Lobby
23 February Lambeth council budget meeting
26 March National TUC demo