It's all going down in Lewisham tonight (again)- the blogosphere and Twitter has been buzzing.
Lewisham Council met tonight to vote on a budget which includes £60m cuts up to 2014. Protesters have been demonstrating outside, and some inside, amidst scenes which included police dogs and some horses. The Council were only allowing 28 people into the public gallery, which sounds about usual for such a meeting.
The cuts package was apparently approved 36 for, 3 against and 11 abstentions. That's Labour for, Lib Dems all abstained and Greens and Tories voted against. That's Tories voting against the cuts budget, which is a strange turnaround of events.
Loud chanting from the crowd of 'Let us in, let us in", "the workers united, will never be defeated", "shame on you", "this is what democracy looks like" and "no if-no-buts-no-public-sector-cuts".
Green Crofton Park reported early here, David Hill's London blog here, and Brockley Central here, Lewisham Right to Work here, Transpontine here, with a broader, more analytical piece here. YouTube vidoes here and here. And the BBC's muted piece here.
It is a tricky situation as I've tried to describe in an earlier post (albeit quickly and inarticulately). The Chief Executive and Council of any local authority are legally obliged to set a budget. Greenwich, my home borough, will not be far behind in setting their reduced budget soon. It would be an extraordinary situation for Lewisham to go it alone in defying government (didn't Liverpool try something like that during Thatcher's time ... Derek Hatton is now doing Come Dine with Me isn't he?) as it would for any university to come out openly and wholeheartedly against the current higher education proposals.
What would be most effective is collective agreement and action amongst the organisations themselves (i.e. the Councils / universities) - but then again, I can't think, at the moment, of a similar instance occurring, let alone being successful. We did have today's front page in the Telegraph, about the call by eminent professors for a public commission into the funding of higher education. More another time.