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Film director speaks out against cutbacks

PUBLISHED: 15:50 16 February 2007 | UPDATED: 14:27 07 September 2010

ONE of Britain's leading film directors has joined the fight against shameful budget cuts in Camden. The Camden branch of Unison, the country's largest trade union, launched a campaign at the Friends Meeting House on Euston Road

Haroon Siddique

ONE of Britain's leading film directors has joined the fight against "shameful" budget cuts in Camden.

The Camden branch of Unison, the country's largest trade union, launched a campaign at the Friends Meeting House on Euston Road on Thursday to oppose the slash in funding to services.

A letter of support from Ken Loach, director of Kes and The Wind That Shakes The Barley, was read out at the meeting.

Mr Loach said: "The proposed cuts are shameful, people need more support, not less. Local government should be about helping, sustaining the vulnerable and those in need.

"Instead, politicians, whether Lib Dem, Tory or New Labour, have put the interests of private companies before the public good. It's only through the action of organised labour and community organisations that we can reverse this process."

The campaign is a response to a series of cuts and service charge hikes announced by the Lib Dem/Tory coalition since it took control of the council in May last year.

Unison is encouraging people to show their anger at a march on the Town Hall on February 28.

Unison Camden chairwoman Liz Leicester said: "We have £23million in budget cuts, almost 350 job losses in council jobs and also losses to the voluntary sector and community sector."

Labour Group leader Anna Stewart joined trade unionists at the podium. But several speakers criticised Labour for policies they claim have put the squeeze on services.

Claire Glasman from Kentish Town women's disability group Winvisible said: "We rely on welfare rights, legal services, home care, day centres, play centres, housing centres and everything else. People are struggling to survive now."

"We strongly object to the Labour Party being on this platform. Nationally it is funding the killing in Iraq and locally they have also been cutting services."

Increased charges include pensioners' lunch club meals going up 21 per cent, after-school club charges going up 14 per cent, and homes for the elderly will cost £866 per week rather than £679.

The holiday playscheme at the Regent's Park Play Project, The Maiden Lane Play Project and the Kilburn Grange Play Centre are all facing closure.

Sian Evans, a parent from Kilburn Grange, said: "There are single mums who will have to give up their job if the playcentre shuts. It's a lovely playcentre, it should be a model - not a model for cuts, a model of what should be available for everyone."

The February 28 march against the cuts starts at the Mornington Crescent end of Camden High Street at 5pm before reaching the Town Hall, Judd Street, at 7pm.

Camden Council Leader Keith Moffitt defended the council's proposals and said plans for a freeze on council tax would benefit people across the borough.

He said: "We regard staff as our greatest asset and we are committed to keeping staff in the organisation through re-deployment where possible.

"The tax freeze does not just benefit the wealthy, the people it really benefits are those who are just surviving on small fixed pensions or fairly modest incomes."

haroon.siddique@hamhigh.co.uk


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