Monday, February 14, 2011

No Cuts! Lambeth people lobby town hall

by New Worker correspondent

PROTESTERS besieged a meeting of Lambeth Council in the town hall in Brixton last Monday evening to demand that councillors implement no Con-Dem cuts.
And among them was former Lambeth councillor Ted Knight, who in the 1980s made just such a stand against cuts being imposed by the Thatcher government.
He faced being surcharged, made bankrupt and disbarred from standing for re-election for making that stand.
But on Monday night he spoke outside the town hall, reminding the councillors inside that they faced no such penalties and had nothing personal to lose by making a principled stand against the cuts.
Over 100 protesters included dozens of service users – disabled people, campaigners fighting against the scrapping of the borough’s park rangers, pensioners, women’s groups, people who are defending council housing, campaigners to save the libraries and to save school crossing attendants.
The school crossing attendants have already scored a success by winning a reversal of planned cuts after threatening strike action.
Workers at the local Remploy factory – which employs people with disabilities – are also contemplating strike action after being threatened with closure and the loss of their jobs.
But none of the protesters present wanted to save one service just to have some other service cut instead. They all stood together and emphasised they wanted no cuts at all.
There are far better ways to resolve the Government spending deficit, caused by bailing out the banks two years ago, for example making large corporations and the very rich pay fair taxes, quitting the war and occupation against Afghanistan and scrapping the Trident nuclear weapons system.
The event was organised jointly by Lambeth Trades Council and Lambeth Save our Services and combined protests against impending cuts that threaten up to 1,000 jobs, the forced merger of Lewisham and Lambeth colleges, Tube station staff cuts, the abolition of the Education Maintenance Allowance, reduced fire service cover at night and serious cuts to benefits and pensions.
Speakers included Anita Wright from Lambeth Trades Council and Women’s Charter, Sean McGovern of Lambeth Save our Services and Councillor Kingsley Abrams, the only Lambeth Councillor to take a principled stand and vote against the cuts at a council meeting on 17th January.
Around 1,000 people also demonstrated against the cuts in Islington last Saturday. Ken Muller, speaking for the march organisers, Islington Hands Off Our Public Services (IHOOPS), said; “The march was a great success.
“It was at least as big as we hoped and included a cross section of the Islington community who are being hit by the cuts: young families, pensioners, students, public service workers and other trades unionists.
“Now the Con-Dem Government knows we mean business when we say we will resist its cuts.”

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