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"Lambeth council know the cost of everything and the value of nothing"
Lambeth Unison's public meeting to save youth services and adventure playgrounds (APGs) on 12 April was a huge success, 45 people attended.
The meeting was called after the council made devastating cuts in children's play services. There had also been a marvellous turnout from young people when we lobbied Lambeth council meetings in February.
Dozens of children and parents who use local APGs came to those lobbies and the children addressed the full council chamber imploring councillors not to cut their service.
Labour group councillors, very cynically, promised those children that they would not be closing their APGs. Unfortunately they broke that hollow promise immediately afterwards.
Public-sector union Unison in Lambeth believes the Labour group proposals for APGs amount to sabotaging the future of the in-house service and will lead to its eventual break-up and destruction.
People at the meeting spoke movingly about how APGs, youth centres, parks and one o'clock clubs are a lifeline to families and single parents on low incomes.
They admired the diversity these free services provide.
One man commented that Lambeth's proposal to cut £700,000 from the APGs' budget showed that: "Lambeth council know the cost of everything and the value of nothing!"
Their plan will reduce the service to only a few hours opening time a week as well as losing experienced and dedicated staff. Many former service users and staff attended the meeting, one woman said "Dick Sheppard Youth Club (former Lambeth YC) saved my life when I was a teenager; I learned self confidence there".
For these people APGs, one o'clock clubs and youth centres are not just a convenience but a necessity for living. Parents and staff at the meeting unanimously called for a mass campaign to save all children's services in Lambeth and a lobby of Lambeth council on 11 May.
In The Socialist 20 April 2011:
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