Local Groups Gather at "Secret Tory Conference"
"Vocal but good natured" protest against government and council policies
Groups from across the borough gathered outside Hammersmith Town Hall on Saturday February 26 to make their voices heard by activists attending the London Region Conservative Conference.
The student group Save EMA estimated around 300 people attended the protest, though Hammersmith and Fulham police put the number at around 80.
The conference marked the launch of Mayor Boris Johnson's re-election campaign, and included workshops on ways for Tory activists to help get him elected. After giving a speech to the audience, the Mayor was seen slipping out of a side door and cycling away without speaking to protestors.
Local campaigners included members of Hammersmith and Fulham Coalition against Community Care Cuts, or HAFCAC, Save Our Skyline, who are fighting the proposed redevelopment of the Town Hall and area around it and parents protesting about council plans to "restructure" services at local Sure Start centres.
You can read Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter's report on the protest on his website including the protestors' reactions to seeing a large fat rat running across the town hall steps!
This and other cost-cutting measures were given the go ahead by the council at a cabinet meeting last week.
The cuts, which the council says will save £27 million and will allow it to freeze council tax bills in the next financial year, will mean what it calls "reorganisation" of children's services, including the borough's 15 Sure Start centres and libraries, with two to be moved into local schools and run by volunteers.
As we have previously reported, the council has also given the go ahead for the sale of eight buildings, including Fulham Town Hall, Sands End Community Centre, the Village Hall in Shepherd's Bush and in Hammersmith, the Irish Cultural Centre annd Palingswick House, currently home to 20 voluntary and community groups, which is earmarked for the new West London Free School.
In addition. over £4 million was cut from the home care budget, prompting one disabled lady at the budget meeting to accuse the council of being "cruel", before being removed from the hall.
Other services affected are meals on wheels, advice services and literacy programmes. Half a million has been slashed from voluntary sector grants, and other measures include the closure of bowling greens in Bishop's and Ravenscourt Parks and the loss of eight policemen and reduced funds for police Safer Neighbourhood Teams.
March 1, 2011