Hillingdon Council is starting to feel the pressure from local people, who demand an end to council cuts and decent services for all.
500 people gathered outside the civic centre in Uxbridge last thursday, to demand that their voices be heard on the issue of council spending cuts. Several hundred young people, who use or have benefited from Hillingdon Music Services made up the bulk of the protesters, and gave the lobby a lively atmosphere with music and singing.
Also present were representatives from nearly every Hillingdon union branch, with members from the FBU (Fire Brigade), CWU (Postal Workers), Unite, Unison and the GMB, representing industrial and council workers.
Many passers by also joined the lobby, when they heard about the criminal plans of the council to sell of the future of our young people. As well as cutting the music services, the council also intends to shut down the Connexions service which helps young people in into employment, training and education and merge Children’s services with the adults service.
This is on top of reducing housing benefit and increasing council tenants rent. And this is just the beginning!
Young people and organisers of the Hillingdon Music Service were able to meet with the leader of the council and demand that their service be kept, and a few people were also allowed to sit in on the cabinet meeting. As yet, there are no firm promises from the council that HMS will be kept in its current form. The best the cabinet could offer was:
“In proposing changes to the way local music services were provided, Cabinet noted
that the Leader of the Council had chaired a meeting earlier that evening to listen to
the views of young people, parents and others involved in the Music Service.
Cabinet accepted to look again at the music service following the passing of the
budget by setting up a working group led by Councillor Judy Kelly. The working
group would report back in May with thorough proposals to maintain Hillingdon’s
excellence in this area, whilst providing a more sustainable and efficient music
This is a good start, and shows that the pressure put on the council, through a mass email and facebook campaign, but crucially from 500 people turning out to lobby the council, could cause them to change their minds.
It is not just HMS that is under threat from budget cuts. As stated above, the Connexions service and Children’s services also face the axe. Hillingdon Against Cuts demands that no cuts should be made to council services. This means that all the campaigns have to link together to fight back!
Next Thursday, the full council will meet to decide the budget for the year. This is the meeting where the cabinet will be proposing cuts to council services. That means we need an even bigger turnout to lobby the council!
Service users and council workers and their unions need to build links to fight together to resist cuts. A mass campaign on the streets of Hillingdon, backed up strike action if necessary, can cause the council to back down. If the councillors refuse to vote against cuts, then they should resign, and open the way for people who will!
What has to be made clear is that the people of Hillingdon will not stand for any cuts to services, jobs or standard of living, and that we are all united in opposition to the council plans, and the austerity regime of the ConDem government!
The next Lobby will be on:
Thursday 24th February
Uxbridge Civic Center