A large and noisy protest greeted councillors as they arrived for Tuesdays budget setting meeting. Campaigners from Birmingham against the Cuts, Communities against the Cuts, Disabled People against the Cuts, Black Activists Rising against the Cuts, Benefit Justice Campaign, Handsworth against the Cuts, and Friends of the Libraries of Birmingham were joined by UNISON and UNITE activists, and delegations from local campaigns over Laurel Road leisure centre, Tiverton Road baths, Moseley Road baths, and Spring Hill Library.
Speakers condemned the £85 million cuts as being targeted at all the most vulnerable groups in the city, the jobless, the young, the old and the disabled, contrary to Albert Bore’s promise to protect them.
The privatisation of adult services will leave both users and care workers at the mercy of unscrupulous private providers. The replacement of many trained workers with volunteers will leave users with a less reliable and inferior service.
Mark Jastrzenski from the Spring Hill library campaign stressed that the voluntary sector was already at full stretch and could not take on the role of full time trained staff.
Robert Brenchley from the Benefit Justice Campaign said that it was a scandal that even as the Bedroom Tax collapses Birmingham City Council still refuses to reclassify rooms or promise no evictions for bedroom tax arrears. A fight back would require building new organisations to challenge the austerity policies of the three main parties.
Godfrey Webster from BATC said that faced with another £200 million cut next year the only sensible choice for the council was to call a halt to cuts, set a deficit budget, organise a mass campaign with all the other big industrial cities, and challenge the government to dare send in commissioners to run all these cities in the face of organised obstruction.
Later anger in the public gallery boiled over as Albert Bore presented his budget and several protesters were roughly manhandled and evicted by security staff. The budget was approved against Tory and LibDem opposition, but with no labour councillors breaking ranks.