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After the Town Hall occupation, anti-cuts group grows

Report from Lambeth Save Our Services
Fresh from our spirited occupation of Brixton Town Hall, Lambeth Save Our Services met last night full of new activists, brimful of confidence and raring to go again. Jeremy Drinkall reports.

The occupation of Lambeth Town Hall on 23 February hit the front page of the South London Press and succeeded in bringing the full impact of the £78 million cuts into people’s consciousness. Everyone reported conversations in workplaces, colleges and neighbourhoods; everyone wanted to know how we did it and what was planned next.

It helped that we had also held a very successful benefit in the Jamm, a local venue, the Saturday afterwards, where we raised between £600 and £700.

Not surprisingly, our first planning meeting after the action was much bigger than usual – 40 were present. We had fresh affiliations from Bakerloo RMT and the NUT sent a rep for the first time.

We kicked off with a round of discussions about the action and what we should do next. Nearly everyone agreed that the action was really good. One new activist thought we needed to condemn all violence but everyone else agreed that the council was responsible for that because they did not allow the people in to watch, even though there were plenty of spare seats.

On what to do next, most of the discussion centred on our plan, along with Southwark Save Our Services and Lewisham Anti-Cuts Alliance, to hold a feeder march from the historic site of Kennington Park to Waterloo Bridge. We will assemble for a few short speeches (and free breakfast!) before heading off at 10.30am on 26 March. We will leaflet shopping centres, tubes and key workplaces in the run up.

But there were quite a few who warned that we must not simply go from demo to demo and meeting to meeting, like the antiwar movement did eight years ago. Strikes are likely to take place in the libraries (five are threatened and half the staff may go), housing (70 job cuts and services like the concierges to disappear) and Lambeth College (cuts, pay cuts and attack on pensions). Lambeth SOS has key activists in all these services.

We will also pursue an alliance with the school crossing patrols (lollipop people) and park rangers, who both have magnificent local support.

Some of us pointed out that while local strikes were crucial in taking us forward, they could not stop all the cuts; some would win, others lose, maybe most would end in a draw. We need a strategy: a general strike to bring down the government. This is the main message we need to take TUC on the 26 March demo. We agreed to organise a local conference to discuss strategy soon.

For more info go to Lambeth Save Our Services and Lambeth Workers Power

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