Last night we were ready to deliver our deputation message and to take any
questions councillors might have asked us. There were three other
deputations Southwark Save our Services, Age Concern Southwark and a
combined deputation that included Southwark Irish Pensioners. In order for
deputations to be heard Council's standing orders had to be suspended. This
motion was moved by Catherine Bowman of the Lib Dems. Earlier we were
amazed to be leafleted outside the town hall by the Lib Dems who thought we
should consider their alternative budget proposals. Given that it is the
Lib Dem Con coalition who are forcing the cuts through they were very brave
and several protesters were urged to moderate language and show restraint.
They did manage to escape unscathed but were left in no doubt what anti cuts
protesters thought of them and their Party.
Inside the council chamber the motion to suspend standing orders to hear
deputations fell by 28 votes to 32. The Labour group voted against hearing
the deputations and justified this on the basis that it wasn't normal
procedure to hear deputations when Council Tax is set and by admitting the
four deputations that evening would be unfair to those who had "respected"
the tradition of not hearing deputations at Council Tax setting.
The deputations and observers in the public gallery were angered by this
position. It was felt to be undemocratic and questions were asked as to
what the Labour Group feared from the deputations? The mayor attempted to
maintain order and threatened to have the public gallery cleared -
eventually the meeting was again brought to order but not before one or two
people were ejected. It was a very disappointing reaction from the Labour
Party and everyone present thought it was cowardly. Knowing that the
business of the meeting would be passed as per the recommendations of the
15th Feb cabinet I left the gallery. I've heard this morning that a
concession was made to set aside £500,000 for lunch clubs and a further
concession was made to the environment and ecology grant - we'll get
the detail in the minutes
Don't forget next STUC meeting 7pm Peckham Town Hall 9th March