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Tower Hamlets: There is an alternative, Mr Biggs
Amalia , Tower Hamlets Socialist Party
Just days before International Women's Day, Tower Hamlets council voted through millions of cuts in children's and youth services.
£58 million of cuts in total were passed by the council - headed by Labour's executive mayor, John Biggs.
Tower Hamlets is a very poor east London borough with the highest percentage of child poverty in the country. If these cuts proceed the problem will just deepen further.
Over 100 protesters filled the council chambers.
Very prominent among the campaigners were women, especially young mums. Presenting a petition, 'Tower Hamlets Mums' said parents in the borough have no idea what will happen to children's centres after 1 April. Many staff will be made redundant.
They also explained how important these services are, not just for their children, but also for them as new mums. Through children's services they are able to meet up and network with each other and get much-needed support.
There was also a group of young people holding slogans against cuts in youth services.
Socialist Party members had a strong presence both outside and inside the council meeting. Hugo Pierre - who previously stood for mayor as a no-cuts TUSC candidate - co-presented a petition against the rise in council tax.
Hugo made it clear that the council should not make any cuts but use its reserves, while building a campaign to demand its cut funding back from Tory central government. Also, councillors of the Independents Group presented an anti-austerity budget motion.
Mayor Biggs said that he doesn't want to make any cuts but he has to balance the budget. We say we need a peoples' budget and that there is another way - the way of socialist councillors in 1920s Poplar and 1980s Liverpool.
Mayor Biggs and those who voted in favour of the budget should have to face the full force of a mass grassroots campaign from residents who can't afford to pay more and whose lives depend on these vital services.
The Socialist Party will be hosting a public campaign meeting on 30 March, 7.30pm (contact firstname.lastname@example.org).
- For a detailed guide on how to propose a no-cuts budget see the TUSC briefing