On 29 November Lewisham Anti Cuts Alliance organised a peaceful protest outside the Town Hall against a first wave of cuts (around £20 million, with a possible £78 million coming over the next three years).
The protest involved local unions and users of public services. Students from Goldsmiths College marched through Lewisham to the protest. Already the council has announced the closure of five libraries, the Amersham Children’s Centre and the Opening Doors employment centres. It has made 466 council workers redundant.
Around 150-200 people gathered from 5.30pm onwards in the freezing cold, and many wanted to go into the public gallery of the council chamber. However the council were only going to let 28 in.
An orderly queue formed and people were searched by security guards and the police. At 7.30pm when the meeting was due to start a protest began to gather outside the doors of the Council.
Protesters were met with harassment and abuse from council security guards and the police, who were illegally denying people from right to attend council meetings.
Riot police assaulted protesters, cleared the public gallery of all visitors, violently cleared the lobby. Local roads were closed and later still police reinforcements came in with dogs and horses. This is a Labour council!
Later in the evening, in a room closed off to the public, every Labour councillor voted for the cuts. Two Tories and one Green voted against.
In a previous response to LACA’s appeal for the Labour Council to not pass on cuts Labour member Michael Harris said that these cuts are necessary and “democratic and socialist”.
And the riot police are “democratic” and “socialist” too?
• www.workersliberty.org/issues/ issues-and-campaigns/public-services