Protest to combat Havering's budget cuts
PUBLISHED: 17:32 11 September 2014 | UPDATED: 17:32 11 September 2014
A protest group is warning that the council's budget will "disproportionately impact on the most vulnerable" as the cabinet reduced the sum its proposed cuts are expected to save by £15million.
More than 20 organisations, including Havering Friends of the Earth, Havering Mind and the Unison public service workers’ union, have formed Havering Together (HT) a protest group aiming to resist the cuts.
HT co-ordinator Marshajane Thompson said that the proposals would be “damaging” and more transparency was needed so that others could scrutinise the financial forecasts.
Havering Council has already reduced its savings forecast from £60m to £45m, a change that resource director Andrew Blake-Herbert blamed on economic shifts such as inflation.
Ms Thompson said: “The council leader and the chief executive have said they must absolutely protect the vulnerable, but these cuts will disproportionately impact the most vulnerable.”
She added that the authority’s plans, which include a reduction in youth services and reduced opening hours at six libraries, will mostly affect the young, disabled and elderly.
“Residents’ number one concern is anti-social behaviour. What do you think will happen when there’s no youth services?” she said.
“It’s going to cost more money putting those kids into care. It’s very shortsighted.”
She argued that greater savings could be made elsewhere in the council, rather than by targeting those most in need.
Council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey defended his proposals as “our best efforts to manage a bad situation”.
He said: “We’ve aimed to protect the services people most value or rely on – from cleaning the streets to protecting vulnerable children and adults.
“We’re proposing that all libraries stay open, rather than closing them, and we’ve done our best to keep valued services running.
“We’ll be consulting on these proposals right through to the end of the year and we’re very happy to listen to other ideas.”
HT will stage a rally outside Havering Town Hall, in Main Road, Romford, to coincide with the next cabinet meeting on September 24 from 6pm.
For more information about HT email HaveringTogether@gmail.com or follow @LBHTogether on Twitter.