Residents and council workers came together on Wednesday to urge Hackney Council to reject the Coalition government’s funding offer for the coming year.
A crowd of protesters swelled outside Hackney Town Hall to express their anger at cuts far tougher than have been seen in more affluent areas of the country. Jo McGovern, who lives in Dalston, was concerned about the impact Hackney’s 2011/12 budget will have on the most vulnerable people.
On a bitterly cold evening, she had joined the protest in the hope that it would “strengthen those in the council who want to vote against the cuts and protest against the government’s line on everything at the moment.”
She conceded, however, that “they have to do something if money doesn’t exist.” Others on Wednesday were not as sympathetic.
After just a short walk from his home in Hackney, Tim Green stridently condemned local councillors. He would have liked to have seen Hackney Council create a ‘needs budget’ to show the difference between the funding given by central government and what is needed on a local level.
“They haven’t shown any fight whatsoever and they’re just being the henchmen of Tory cuts. Labour created this crisis and now Labour councillors are implementing the effects of this crisis.”
Gareth Jenkins lives in Clapton and also joined the protest in a bid to challenge Hackney’s councillors to fight the cuts imposed by the Conservative-led government: “It puts pressure on Labour councillors not to pass on the Tory cuts.
“The Tories have particularly penalised some of the poorest boroughs in London. If the councillors stood up and said no, it would help galvanise the resistance. Otherwise people are going to say, what’s the point in doing anything?”
Many on Mare Street on Wednesday night were unsurprised by the outcome of the council meeting. Tim Green stressed that individual protests alone will not achieve the desired result for campaigners.
“Through protests, through social movements building, we can help create an alternative. But it’s not going to happen overnight.”