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Video reports from Lewisham protests/riot


8:30 am - November 30th 2010

by Kate Belgrave    


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“It would be easy to declare our opposition to the cuts the coalition is proposing,’ Sir Steve told us at the council’s AGM way back in June.

It’s even easier, it seems, to put up no opposition at all. Locals have gone mad at Bullock’s proposals to cut libraries, refuse services and staff (especially in a borough that depends on council for employment).

As early as June, Lewisham council had bullocked ahead and forecast a budget gap of up to £60m for 2011 to 2014 (although was still in the dark about government plans for key grants). People expect (for reasons that will forever escape me) a little more from Labour. 

It has been clear for a while that Sir Steve should keep an eye on the tide. Yesterday evening, he tried to ignore it. Several hundred people turned up to protest at the early-evening council meeting. All went well, until people heard that the public gallery would be restricted to 40. Then, someone said 28. Then, people decided they’d head in regardless. Why didn’t Bullock hold this meeting in a large hall somewhere and have it out?

Here are a few videos I shot during the rush.

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About the author
Kate Belgrave is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a New Zealander who moved to the UK eight years ago. She was a columnist and journalist at the New Zealand Herald and is now a web editor. She writes on issues like public sector cuts, workplace disputes and related topics. She is also interested in abortion rights, and finding fault with religion. Also at: Hangbitching.com and @hangbitch
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Reader comments


“(especially in a borough that depends on council for employment).”

Does that not strike you as odd and wrong in the first place, and maybe in need of some adjustment?

“Why didn’t Bullock hold this meeting in a large hall somewhere and have it out?”

Perhaps because it was a council meeting and not a public debate or mass demo? Presumably the council had business to get through (which may have included public petitions, but I doubt any of these folks had submitted one) and mass onanistic interruption wasn’t an item on the agenda.

2. Chaise Guevara

Speaking of onanism, Parasite, does sneering over the internet at people who are fighting for what they believe in get you off, by any chance? You certainly seem to enjoy it. You’re a bit like the kid who tags around with the bully because it makes them feel tough. Still, I’m sure you get a rosy glow of self-importance from being so cleverly complacent.

Kate, thank you for posting these videos, and thank you for not using hyperbole.

So, what should the Mayor have done – with a slashed budget and a cap on council tax rises?

Where would the money have come from to avoid the cuts?

It’s all very well blaming him. What would you have done differently?

5. Arthur Thistlewood

4: “So, what should the Mayor have done – with a slashed budget and a cap on council tax rises?”

In fairness, part of the dispute centers on just how large the budget reduction will need to be. Lewisham is claimed to have taken a maximalist approach, potentially putting services at risk where it is unneeded. A slightly more moderate approach could have prepared the council for the worst while still maintaining some sense of trying to do what’s right for citizens.

“Where would the money have come from to avoid the cuts?

It’s all very well blaming him. What would you have done differently?”

Obviously the choices are limited due to the structure of local government (another discussion, but more powers for fund raising/spending would be welcome), and he can only respond to central government to a large extent. Of course, there’s absolutely no doubt that central government has a much wider range of options regarding the public budget.


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