Protesters outside Hackney council. Photo: Hackney and Islington SP

Protesters outside Hackney council. Photo: Hackney and Islington SP   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Rob Thomas, Hackney and Islington Socialist Party

The fight against the closure of two of Hackney’s affordable children’s centres, Fernbank and Hillside, continued on Wednesday 20 October. Families and staff rallied to protest the closures outside of Hackney Town Hall, supported by trade unionists and Socialist Party members, as a full Labour-controlled council meeting was underway inside.

The closures would see the loss of 109 affordable childcare places and over 25 local jobs at centres that have served the community for 40 years. This is the latest attack on working families already suffering from the recent return to austerity policies at the hands of the Tory government. The continued stripping back of public services forces more and more families into the expensive private sector, which results in more money going into the hands of bosses.

The UK already has some of the highest childcare costs in the world. After real-terms pay freezes caused by ten years of austerity and inflation, national insurance uplifts and recent cuts to Universal Credit, what working families need is more support.

If the mayor and the councillors had looked out the window on Wednesday night, they’d have noticed the growing discontent and appetite for alternative politics. The Save Fernbank and Hillside campaigns were not alone in their demonstration outside the council meeting. Morning Lane People’s Space was fighting the council’s plans to redevelop the local Tesco site into office space, retail and residential units, with little-to-no affordable housing available to residents.

Save Ridley Road, St Mungo’s workers, and Low Traffic Neighbourhood campaigns were also holding rallies against the council’s proposed plans. It paints a stark picture of the council’s priorities and the growing discontent among the public for real change. It shows the need for a real political alternative and party that fights for working-class people; standing candidates in council elections who demand what is needed for our local communities and are prepared to take on the Tory government for the necessary funding.

Over 1,000 people have already signed the petition to save Fernbank and Hillside Children’s Centres. Help us fight back against these cuts by searching for the petition online and adding your signature. See ‘Save Fernbank and Hillside Children’s Centres’ at