Monday, 29 November 2010

Angry protests at Lewisham Council budget meeting

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.


Plummy Mummy said...

Office???? Do you work with a bunch of luddites that don't want to use technology.
Seriously, can't you work from home? I don't see why people should be made to go into the office when there are so many routes to online working/collaboration (this as you may guess is a big pet peeve of mine!)

Raven said...

Yes, I agree that is the preferred scenario. But when there's an important meeting, and the IT isn't instantly in place to do video-conferencing, then it's still necessary to try to trudge in.

And then, not everyone is in that type of job - what about the school teachers who we want to turn up at school, so that we can go to work!

(of course, when the kids are at home too when schools are closed, then any serious and sustained work is out anyway!)

I know there is 'beauty all around', but I just want to get back to normal now...

Plummy Mummy said...

Good points all.
You are right about the teachers. I wanted them to be in so tot could have fun in the snow with the teachers and I would have to look after her all day indoors! But this morning, as we trudged through the snow again, I felt really bad for the teachers who were all there well before us. Luckily, the school is closed tomorrow so we all get a lie in. I hope you are managing to get in in the snow. xx