Last night, a bunch of us from WAG went down to Hackney Town Hall where Hackney Council were the latest London borough to vote through the vicious + nasty public sector cuts which are sweeping the country. A mixed bag of old punks, young students, anarchists, trade unionists and local residents had amassed to stage a vocal and often downright funny protest against the stooges inside the building. At one point, the crowd took to Mare Street and successfully shut down the junction at Morning Lane, letting the people of Hackney know that some of us aren’t willing to lie down and take a Con-Dem shafting. United in voice and sentiment, we made a real show of what people power could achieve, stopping both lanes of traffic and raising many a supportive fist from the passers-by and bus drivers who were clearly in support of the demo.
In a borough like Hackney, one of the most deprived boroughs in London nay England, spending £32 million less on essential frontline services is going to be devastating. The cuts will hit the poorest and most vulnerable people the hardest. And in a move which will mean the whole of Hackney’s Youth Services will be shut down, it’s galling to know that that last night’s vote will see increased spending on fly posting removal and graffiti clean-ups. All to make the mean streets of Hackney look shiny and gentrified once the cameras start rolling for the Olympics next year… The bastards
Later on, the protesters rushed the steps of the Town Hall where a group of hastily assembled Community Support Officers struggled to keep the crowd from the door. What a scene! Her Majesty’s finest (hhmmm…) fighting the people away from supposedly democratic process which the Councillors were enacting inside. Some activists who got into the meeting had managed to disrupt the proceedings and let the elected representatives know how cowardly they were. In particular, mention should be made of the 6 Labour Councillors who had previously declared “We would like to see local Councils across London leading the charge and refusing to adopt cuts budgets,” – see www.hackneycitizen.co.uk/…/labour–councillors–call-on-hackney-council-to-refuse-cuts-budget/ for more nonsense – and then voted them through last night. Just following Party orders then…
The people inside got the word out that our din could be heard from inside the Council chamber. This was relayed to the protest outside via megaphone and the biggest cheer of the night went up.
As people wandered away, we were left with the feeling that we’d lost this particular vote, and maybe battle. But as the full extend of the cuts and their impact sink in, in Hackney and beyond, most of us feel a growing confidence that more and more people will be taking to the streets and making it very clear that we’re not going to stand around as the government fucks up the country.