Budget cuts passed after anti-austerity protest outside Hackney Town Hall
- Credit: Archant
Angry protesters couldn’t stop councillors from passing budget cuts at Hackney Town Hall last night.
Council tax was raised for the first time in 10 years at the annual budget-setting meeting, which followed an anti-austerity rally outside the building.
Two women who managed to negotiate the heavy security then vented their frustrations when the issue came up inside the chamber, before being escorted from the room for disrupting proceedings.
“You’re disrupting people’s lives by approving cuts,” they shouted. “People don’t want austerity.”
Their claims sparked an angry response from mayor Jules Pipe, who hit back: “Why don’t you sit down and listen to some facts instead of just shouting platitudes.”
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He then addressed the protest when they had left.
He said: “I really wish those people could stay, their anti rhetoric needs challenging.”
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The mayor said the Tories’ “ideological attack” on public services meant it was impossible to continue making up the shortfall and a rise in council tax was the first of many hard decisions.
He pointed out £19 of the £20 rise would be offset by the Greater London Authority (GLA) precept ending - meaning the rise was effectively £1.
No frontline cuts to children’s centres or libraries were being made, the mayor added, before highlighting the borough’s 347 looked after children and 248 youngsters on child protection plans would not feel the effects of the cuts.
“Services for these 600 people are not political weapons,” he said.
The council has to make a further £38m in savings over the next four years due to central government cuts, which since 2010 equate to £138m.
“We have to ensure the residents understand what the borough faces,” said mayor Pipe. “People who think bankrupting the council will save services are misleading the public and equating it to what the Tories are doing is wrong and juvenile.”
He referenced the administration of 15 years ago, which he said cost the council billions in potential investment by spending money it didn’t have.
The two opposition parties both proposed amendments which were swiftly rejected.
Cllr Simche Steinberger (Con, Springfield) argued the council publication Hackney Today should be cut. He questioned why the council was “wasting so much money on this absolute rubbish.”
Cllr Abraham Jacobson (Lib Dem, Cazenove) said his party did the most for the people of Hackney and accused the Labour members of being “walnut whipped”, before ranting about Jeremy Corbyn, saying he “hates to be British”.