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Posted on 10 August 2010 at 16:00 GMT

'Defend Our Community Services' (DOCS) launched in Bracknell

On Thursday 29 July, 33 trade unionists and community activists gathered at a community centre in Bracknell to begin the fightback against cuts to jobs and services in the Bracknell area. We were only expecting about 20 people and had to abandon our small room and decamp to the main hall as people kept streaming in.

The local Unite branch initiated the meeting and there were trade union members from a wide range of unions including: Unison, NUT, Usdaw, GMB, CWU as well as Reading Shop Stewards Network and IWW. There were members of the Labour Party, Liberal Democrats and the Green Party as well as people from local community groups and some worried workers from the local hospital.

Speakers expressed their anger that the real culprits, the greedy bankers, had got away scot free whilst the rest of us are being made to pay a high price in loss of jobs and services. Already the local Tory council is planning to abolish free swimming for the young and elderly in September and the local libraries are facing cuts in opening hours. We have already seen the council withdraw support for the local over-50s Look In Café, for the sake of £50,000, whilst at the same time paying around £500,000 last year in allowances to councillors. This led to a concerted campaign by users of the café to save it and it survives as a community facility with some support from the council.

NHS staff aired their fears that jobs will disappear at our local hospital and there are still worries that it may close. Others talked about the risk to pensioners' free travel passes, winter fuel allowances and subsidised TV licences.

It was agreed to set up a steering committee to plan future meetings, including an inaugural meeting of DOCS and a public meeting with national and local speakers. Leaflets, petitions and activities are planned.

We are now working hard to build DOCS and involve local residents across the community in a campaign to build resistance to the slash and burn policies of the government coalition.

John Gillman and Terry Pearce, DOCS steering committee members, personal capacity.

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