Anti-cuts Birmingham group runs blockade on budget day


10:05 am - March 3rd 2013

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by Kara Moses

On Tuesday over 100 people gathered in Birmingham to blockade the the council house in a determined fight back against the drastic cuts – £625m over the next few years – being voted through by the city council meeting inside the iconic building.

Blockading began at 8am with fencing, rubbish and giant planters being piled up at the car park entrance. Over the course of the day around 100 people blockaded every entrance to the council house by linking arms and courageously resisting police and councillor’s attempts to break through and enter.

A few scuffles broke out but no one was hurt or arrested. Blockades continued right up until the budget meeting started, councillors having been snuck in through back entrances by police.

This was the latest in a series of recent actions taken by a rapidly growing anti-cuts movement in Birmingham. This movement has seen hundreds of people mobilising, new local groups being formed across the city and previously insular groups uniting to work together.

After an occupation of the council house balcony on the day of the Labour group meeting, Facebook followers of Communities Against the Cuts which led the occupation doubled to more than 300. In January an emergency public meeting called by CATC and other groups drew in 175 people to discuss the impact of the cuts on Birmingham and what could be done to fight back.

Working groups and local action groups were formed from the meeting and the movement has been growing since.

This movement is inspiring and empowering people in Birmingham and beyond. There is already talk of similar actions around Sheffield council’s budget meeting in March.

This is only the beginning of a long-term strategy of resistance. On March 16th a city-wide anti-cuts conference is being held to discuss and decide where to go next, including plenary, discussion and workshops.

This is being held on the same day as a national Councillors Against the Cuts meeting and will involve a delegate swap to engage in dialogue with councillors who are taking a stand against the cuts.

Those in or near Birmingham are encouraged to attend, and those outside of Birmingham to join or form your own local groups and cross-city meetings to organise and plan your resistance.

www.savebirmingham.wordpress.com
http://communitiesagainstthecuts.com
www.councillorsagainstcuts.org
CATC on Facebook

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Reader comments


Welldone. Keep up the good work.

This isn’t for ‘communities’. This is a group that’s been robbing the rest of us for years insisting on keeping its privelige.

Anyone who lives in Britain can see that local government is overfunded on an epic scale. Spending decisions are driven by the needs of the employees. After years of bleeding stumpery councils now do very little indeed that’s of any use to the rest of the population.

The Coalition’s plan is working a treat, isn’t it? They cut local authority funding, and the councillors faced with the unenviable task of deciding how best to spend their dwindling budgets take the blame because they dare to ‘implement’ those cuts.

What next? Blockading the budget meetings of charities to prevent them from ‘implementing’ government funding cuts by sacking staff and restricting services? Blockading Tesco’s to protest at the ‘implementation’ of government cuts by families who’ve lost tax credits? Collaborators! They should *refuse* to accept the cuts that, erm, they have no power to do anything about.

All this is going to do is embolden the Coalition to load yet more cuts on to local authorities, safe in the knowledge that councillors will absorb local anger.

Labour aren’t to blame for the cuts in Birmingham. The Greens aren’t to blame for the cuts in Brighton. Where is the sense in directing public anger at these parties in a way that only benefits the Tories and Lib Dems?

(Caveat: of course it’s fair enough to oppose *particular* cuts. I just don’t see the sense on directing opposition to overall cuts to council budgets, made by the national government, at the councils which are on the receiving end of those cuts.)

What exactly would happen if the council did refuse to cut spending? Presumably that would mean it ran out of money before the end of the financial year. Do the protesters imagine the Government would step in and throw more money at it if that happened?

What exactly would happen if the council did refuse to cut spending?

In such circumstances the government would just choose what would be cut for them.

If you don’t like your council and its plans, use force to stop them. Very democratic!

I’m dissapointed the protesters weren’t arrested – surely you should not be able to prevent people from going to work and doing their jobs?

Also what is the alternative thatthis protest has to implementing the cuts?

8. Robin Levett

@Chris #2:

This isn’t for ‘communities’. This is a group that’s been robbing the rest of us for years insisting on keeping its privelige.

Do you know the scale of the cuts that have been imposed on local government funding since 2010?

Anyone who lives in Britain can see that local government is overfunded on an epic scale. Spending decisions are driven by the needs of the employees. After years of bleeding stumpery councils now do very little indeed that’s of any use to the rest of the population.

There speaks the voice of ignorance on an epic scale.

Local government is over-funded?

o.0

Really? Not anywhere I’ve ever lived. I’ve lived with councils that allocated funds very badly, but I’ve never lived in an area that had more funds than it needed, not even Gerrard’s Cross.

“over 100 people”
Why that means 0.01% of the population of Birmingham oppose cuts. Truly a popular movement!

It’s hard to believe that local authority plutocrats haven’t heard of the magic money tree.

It’s that which has funded them for years.

If they’re short of money to pay for services or expenses or whatever they only have to go to the magic money tree and grab some more…..money. It’s so obvious.

After all, nobody has cut it down!!!

Sorry to post here – sort of off topic (though as this is about Anti-cuts maybe not). Tried using your contact form, but it doesn’t work for me. The anti spam box won’t give me any numbers to enter and there are no titles to the boxes. Something’s up!

Anyway, The Mail have done something useful for a change – I suppose that even they can do that from time to time. Have you seen THIS?

Birmingham council budget 2012/13 is approx £3.5bn.
The vote I believe is on cuts for this year totalling £110m.
That’s 3%.

Can savings of that order really not be found?

14. Robin Levett

@pagar #11:

It’s hard to believe that local authority plutocrats haven’t heard of the magic money tree.

It’s that which has funded them for years.

If they’re short of money to pay for services or expenses or whatever they only have to go to the magic money tree and grab some more…..money. It’s so obvious.

Do you have the vaguest notion of the functions, structure and financing of local government in the UK?


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