Workers and residents angry at service and job cuts last night stormed a council meeting in the London Borough of Camden.
Following a demonstration of approximately 200 people against the cutbacks, 100 attempted to enter the "open" council meeting. They were refused entry, being told there was insufficient room in the chamber.
Those shut out, including staff, children and disabled activists began to chant to be given admittance and at one point broke through the security cordon to gain entrance to the meeting. Some squared up to the councillors and the Mayor's mace was knocked to the ground as the meeting was suspended.
Police arrived and cleared the area, dragging protesters away, though the chanting outside continued to cause disruption. The Camden New Journal reported that "the chant of ‘Save Kilburn Grange Play Centre’ was so loud that council leader Councillor Keith Moffitt suspended the meeting for 15 minutes. He could hardly be heard amid the heckling."
The councillors approved £23 million in budget cuts in 2007-8, with over £40 million in the next three years, affecting the following:
- 350 jobs slashed
- £3m cuts to children's services, including play scheme closures plus support to vulnerable children reduced
- £9.8m cuts to Housing and Adult Social care with 170 job losses
- 20% hike in community meals charges
- Cuts in Welfare Rights and Camden Language Services
- Cuts in funding to the voluntary sector
- Inflation-busting 5.3% rent rise for council tenants
- Major upheavals in hostels with 60 jobs to go
- Other cuts threatened
One council worker told libcom: "These cuts are being justified in order to freeze council tax. But that is nonsense, since they are coming at a time when Camden has received the biggest increase in funding from central government in London - 6.2% - and sits on reserves of over £90 million. Meanwhile it continues to spend millions on private consultants and temp agencies. And central government spends billions in Iraq, and plans to shell out £12 billion on ID cards and £76 billion on Trident. We can resist this without hurting council tax payers."
No arrests were made, although police stated they could take retrospective action following studying CCTV footage.
Riot in the Town Hall - Camden New Journal