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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 March 2010

Nottingham council targets the vulnerable

COMMUNITY GROUPS across Nottingham have been expressing their anger at the impact of council budget cuts on services, particularly those for vulnerable adults. In a protest organised by Nottingham City Unison, 150 people gathered outside the council headquarters on local budget day, 8 March. A range of services to vulnerable adults are threatened, as well as 200 jobs. Cuts total nearly 19 million.

Jean Thorpe, Nottingham East Socialist Party

Protesters heard users of the council's deaf service describe the importance of their team. It includes home-care workers who sign and therefore don't need to be accompanied by an interpreter. Staff in frontline posts like this have received redundancy notices.

People attending Acorn Day Centre explained the new 2 daily charge will not be affordable by some users who may have to stop attending. The same point was made by the father of a young man with learning disabilities.

These centres are a lifeline for those who use them, helping to decrease their isolation. There does seem to be a particular assault on learning disabilities in this year's council budget. As well as the new charges, a home is to close that some residents have lived in for more than 20 years.

For anyone attending a council day centre who lives in private residential or nursing care, their attendance at the council day centre will be cut.

Also a day centre for elderly people that is open all week is to close at weekends. Several elderly service users braved the cold to protest.

Anger boiled over at the end of the protest and about 30 mainly deaf people lay down on the tram tracks that run by the side of the Council House. Sign language interpreters helpfully melted away so that the police couldn't communicate with the protesters!

The protesters eventually got up when they were invited into the Council House to air their views.

Anne Darby, a member of the local deaf community, said: "Nottingham City Council totally underestimated the effect of these cuts on the deaf community and the likely reaction to them."

The following Saturday about 100 people marched through Nottingham protesting at the closure of Radford Unity Centre, which provides accommodation for many local groups particularly those working within the black community.

Joginder Singh, one of the protest organisers, told me: "Groups at Radford Unity deliver services to people of many nationalities who are poor and isolated. These include services to young and elderly people and those with mental health issues. We were told only on 18 December last year that we had 90 days to leave the building. No alternative premises were even mentioned until we started kicking up a fuss."

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