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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 February 2010

Tories attack community café...

ON 13 February, over 200 people marched through Bracknell in protest at the Tory council withdrawing financial support from the Look In Café, a town centre community café used mainly by the over-50s, as well as voluntary groups.

Val and Terry Pearce, Save the Look In committee, personal capacity

Many café users are people on retirement pensions and fixed incomes. It is a lifeline where they can meet friends over a reasonably priced cup of tea and a snack.

Yet the Tory council threatens it with closure for the sake of £60,000 although the councillors paid themselves over £500,000 in allowances last year plus expenses.

Café users have to date collected over 2,500 names on a petition calling for the café to remain open, which will be presented to the 3 March council meeting where the final decision will be made.

During the 13 February march, speeches were made by a Labour councillor, the LibDem prospective parliamentary candidate and users of the Café, all castigating the council.

Bracknell council has a large Tory majority as does the Tory MP. But when Café users heard the news they instantly got up a petition, and a public meeting of over 100 people elected a Save The Look In committee which organised the petition, march and lobby.

At a recent Bracknell Forest borough council meeting, a motion from the three-strong Labour group called for a 5% cut in councillors' allowances to help pay to keep the Look In Café open.

But all 40+ Tory councillors voted against, preferring to see the over-50s' lifeline close than give up some of their inflated allowances.

We will fight on. At the 3 March meeting we will make it clear to the Tory councillors just what we think of their mean cut.

Many people campaigning to keep the Café open are drawing political conclusions from this struggle. This will be reflected in the months ahead as further cuts are inflicted on the most vulnerable sections of our community.

... and lie over teenage pregnancies

LIES, DAMNED lies and Tory statistics. Old Etonian David Cameron was left red-faced after his Tory party admitted getting the figures on teenage pregnancies wrong by a factor of ten.

As part of its 'broken Britain' election propaganda drive, a Tory party document - Labour's Two Nations - attacked the government's record on social deprivation.

"In the most deprived areas, 54% are likely to fall pregnant before the age of 18, compared to just 19% in the least deprived areas," it opined.

The real figures are nearer 5.4% and 1.9% respectively. An unrepentant Tory spokesman said: "A decimal point was left out in a calculation. It makes no difference at all to the conclusions..."

I'm afraid it does. Under-18 pregnancy rates have fallen significantly in all but two of the ten most deprived areas. Overall they declined by more than 10%, from 60.63 per thousand in 1998 to 54.32 per thousand in 2007.

If the Tories are looking to target Labour for a significantly widening gap between the social classes then they could start with the issue of wealth distribution. But perhaps that's a bit too close to the knuckle for the Tories!

Simon Carter

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