On 29 November Lewisham council met to vote on £20 million worth of cuts, a third of that planned in the next three years. Over 200 people demonstrated outside the town hall, including a 100-strong feeder march from Goldsmiths University. The demo heard speeches from local trade unionists and community campaigners.
James Kerr, Lewisham Socialist Party
When it came to going into the public gallery to hold our local councillors to account, only 28 people were allowed into the gallery, despite requests from Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance that the meeting be streamed into an overflow video room. Protesters attempted to get into the town hall to get up to the gallery. Around 40 police officers with riot shields, police horses and dog teams were used to contain the demonstration and the centre of Catford was sealed off while the demonstration was going on.
The Socialist Party condemns these heavy-handed police tactics. If local people were actually given the opportunity to hold their politicians to account then the situation would have been avoided. Former Socialist Party councillors Ian Page and Chris Flood have called on the council to make a stand and refuse to implement the cuts. Outrageously, the Labour council has not only decided to pass Con-Dem cuts on to working class and young people in Lewisham, they are relying on riot police to defend them from local people protesting at those cuts.