Umbrellas out for carnival against the cuts

Photo: Kellie O'Farrel

Protesters from across Lewisham braved the miserable weather to march on the streets today,

in a carnival style protest against planned cuts to public services.

Borough-wide demonstrations saw people gathering at various locations from 11am, before all merging together at 1pm outside Lewisham town hall to begin the main march.

The protests come after Thursday’s council meeting where several cuts decisions were finalised, including the controversial move to close almost half of the boroughs libraries.

The earlier protests focused on many of the state-funded organisations under threat, with groups gathering to show their support at libraries, Lewisham Hospital, Opening Doors and several other public bodies that provide services for children and the elderly.

Branches of Barclays banks were occupied at several locations in Lewisham and across wider London. While the New Cross branch doesn’t normally open on a Saturday, protesters were happy to demonstrate outside. Robin Stott, 68, said: “ I am here today because I feel so angry. Most of us pay our taxes to insure we have a fair and decent society, while banks get away with paying virtually nothing but instead pay their senior executives extravagant amounts of money.

“The banks should give a fair contribution of their profits to support public services.”

Outside New Cross library, mother-of-four Jannett Bowens, 43, said: “I am upset because of the way the government has not considered the average person who use the library services. My children use this library and I have a small baby who attends childcare and that service is also being cut.”

Hundreds of people gathered outside Lewisham town hall before setting off towards Lewisham High Street. Street performers and clowns entertained the marching crowd, who chanted: “No ifs, no buts, no Lewisham cuts.” Despite the wet weather, many families with small children and pensioners took part.

Green Party Councillor Darren Johnston said: “I’m here today to support the protest against the cuts; what the Government is doing is appalling. I am also unhappy with the way the Labour Council is dealing with the cuts in Lewisham. Closing libraries is completely wrong.”

He continued: “It’s not the best of weather for a demonstration, there’s a really good gathering of people and it’s a good natured crowed as well, but hopefully we will get our voices heard and our message across.”

Among those supporting the protest were representatives  from local organisations, such as: Christ the King Sixth Form College, the National Union of Teachers, the Socialist Workers Party, Openings Doors and Lewisham Pensioners’ Forum.

The march came to a halt at Rennell Street, where public campaigners addressed the crowd. Fears were voiced about the possibility of the NHS being privatised and the public were encouraged show their support and attend  the up-and-coming protests, planned both locally and nationally.

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