Tuesday, 1 March 2011

No lead from Camden councillors on anti-cuts

Last night's Camden Council budget meeting

A lively 1,200-strong march from Mornington Crescent through the backstreets of Camden to the Town Hall was followed by a protest as cowardly council held their final budget meeting behind closed doors.

A thick yellow line of police prevented the protesters entering the public gallery meaning that the vote was taken in secret. Luckily, one activist from Beyond Clictivism, Tim Hardy, managed to get in with a handful of others and Tweet reports using the #camden hashtag from the meeting, exposing what a sham of democracy this was.

"over £100,000,000 in reserves but they refuse to use them to protect the vulnerable", he tweets, and your blood runs cold at the level of cowardice in the council's quisling complicity.

'It was painful to witness Labour’s spineless failure to take a stand,' writes our intrepid reporter at the blog, aghast at the empty public gallery and the even emptier hearts and minds of the robo-councillors. Apparently a Green councillor was the only one to vote against the cuts.

Harpy Marx has some thorough reportage at her website with photos and now some great videos. In her third video, hospital worker Candy Udwin reports back on the meeting to the remaining protesters, and actor Roger Lloyd Pack urges councils to refuse to sign off on the cuts. The same old tired argument is that if Labour doesn't implement the cuts then Eric Pickles and his Tory cohort will set the cuts at an even more devastating level. But as Pack points out, "if they refused to vote this budget in they would set a ball rolling that would be impossible to stop. They'd be national heroes and would set an example for the rest of the country."

Wisconsin and the UK students have set the bar which our elected representatives miserably fail to match.

Labour — putting the 'u" into spine.

Afterwards, about fifty protesters blocked Marylebone Road outside St Pancras for an hour, dodging angry taxis and white van man who tried to drive through while the police watched and did nothing. The fight goes on. Watch out for the anti-cuts space.



UPDATE: "No ifs, no buts, no public sector cuts." "London, Cairo, Wisconsin. We will fight, we will win." Excellent short film from thegabber.com via Open Democracy.

5 comments:

harpymarx said...

Good report and like that pic at the end of your post!!

I wish councillors would follow the initiatives in Wisconsin and show some fight as opposed to defeatism. If I hear that usual argument, "if we don't do it Pickles will..." I will do more than scream along with the mention of the Chief Finance Officer. There are ways to defy.... but Lab councillors have done little (except for individual Lab councillors) to fight the cuts instead everyone strangely is looking for an organised opposition in 2012!

Oh c'mon....next year will be worse and what, after this year, will be left. It's all a bit late esp. waiting for these councillors to develop a real opposition.....

Btw Roger Lloyd Pack was excellent!!

willis said...

Seems like this attack on working people is becoming as much a global issue...similar to the unrest after years of dictatorship in the Middle East. People can only stand so much.

My best wishes to you!

Robert said...

Two months ago a meeting in our area broke up as the council decided to kick everyone out, Labour held a meeting in private, we were then told two Nursing homes would close, and of course our respite center would close and a few other items used for the disabled.

But four years ago labour kept this council by the skin of it's teeth, and the back lash and anger, could be seen when people started to say on the streets, the difference between labour and the Tories down here the Tories have never had a go.

I was one who threw my voting registration on the floor.

Yesterday the council stated the care home will stay open, they will find the cuts some other way.

So it is worth shouting and screaming, it does sometimes work especially near an election.

Of course in Wales our Council tax will go up, unlike England 3.5%

Robert said...

THE decision to save two Llanelli care homes dominated budget day at county hall as it pushed council tax up higher than expected.

In front of a noisy public gallery, councillors debated and voted, by 38 to 28, to keep St Paul's and Caemaen open and in council control — provoking a huge cheer from elated campaigners.

An ecstatic June Newnham, 82, who was at county hall campaigning on behalf of her 91-year-old sister Marie James, a Caemaen resident, said: "She will be over the moon. It's going to give her another 10 years."

The homes have 19 empty spaces between them and council leaders, grappling with the increasing cost of caring for the elderly, thought their homes plan would offer savings to help off-set those bills.

Councillor Pat Jones, executive board member for social services, told councillors: "Those that say 'things should stay as they are' are closing their eyes to reality."

But Plaid and other opposition councillors, supported by some members of the ruling Labour and Independent groups, argued they needed local authority-run homes and could not rely on a "volatile" private sector.

Moving the crucial amendment, Councillor Mike Burns said he supported caring for people in their own homes, but added: "For some people care homes will be the right answer."

But saving the homes meant a headache for councillors, who were now left facing what Labour's Kevin Madge, the deputy council leader, called a £500,000 "black hole".

Robert said...

CAMPAIGNERS who kept a carmarthenshire care home open have hit back at criticism that £500,000 will be spent on a near-empty home.

Carmarthenshire Council leader Meryl Gravell, who had recommended St Paul's close, said it was "absolutely bonkers" the average council taxpayer would pay £7.40 more to keep open a home which would soon have only one resident.

But Councillor John Jenkins defended full council's decision to over-rule the executive board and keep the home — and fellow carmarthenshire care home Caemaen — open and in council control.

He said it could pay for itself if it was filled and he had full confidence in council officers to be able to achieve that.

Mr Jenkins said: "The council should accept the result with less spin and get on with running our homes efficiently and effectively."

We won so shouting and screaming sometimes works....

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