Posts Tagged ‘Steve Reed’

Last night around 300 protesters lobbied Lambeth Councillors to vote against the Labour group budget. When security and police refused to allow members of the public into the galleries and overflow rooms a fight broke out in the council lobby and protestors stormed the council chamber.

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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!

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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They represent us.

Posted: February 19, 2011 by lambethsaveourservices in Labour Party
Tags: , , , , , ,

We have let ourselves down. In the 14th Century, Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted a series of impressive frescoes on the walls of the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena. They acted as a reminder to all who viewed them; that ‘good government’ had a duty to act in a way which served the people best. Seemingly contrary to contemporary practice, the people too had a duty in this ‘good government’ – to keep a watchful eye on their representatives.

In order to grasp the gravity of the current situation in the Town Hall, Lambeth SOS have decided to give a brief, potted history of Lambeth’s Labour Councillors.

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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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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.

Yes you read that right, consultants at our councils housing firm, the arm’s length management organisation (ALMO) Lambeth Living are being allegedly paid up to £4500 a week. That’s equivalent to £234000 a year (the prime minister gets £142,500, Lambeth Council’s chief executive Derrick Anderson gets about £211,000 if you were wondering). This is not just a shocking waste of money, Lambeth Living is savagely sacking vital frontline staff and cutting services whilst pouring tenants rent money away. It is a disgrace and these consultants should be sacked immediately.

Lambeth Save Our Services (SOS) has campaigned to bring the ALMO back in-house for months now – it is clear this is the only way to stop the drastic cuts to frontline services. Now it is more important than ever.

To get involved in the campaign send an email to lambethsaveourservices@gmail.com or come to our next planning meeting.

More on this is in the Streatham Guardian