By Ryan Bridgewater
As Tory and Lib Dem councillors gathered in the Guildhall on Wednesday 29th February to announce that they were cleaving £9 million from the budget they were heckled by protesters from the public gallery. Indignant Kingston residents shouted “They’re not ‘savings’ they’re CUTS, call them what they are” before unified chants of “Shame on you!” met the councillors. The 40-strong crowd, who first held a demonstration outside, were a combination of local service users, trades unionists and students.
Kit Leary from Surrey County Unison gave a spontaneous speech to the demonstrators assembled on the steps of the Guildhall, some of whom waved flags from the GMB union. There were lively chants aimed at the leader of the council: “Derek Osbourne get out, we know what you’re all about- Cuts, job losses, money for the bosses”. Campaigners also shouted “Save our Services- Stop the cuts!” and gave out leaflets to other members of the public. A Christian group held a prayer vigil outside the Guildhall, complete with a cross and lighted candles.
Despite threats of arrest from aggressive security the campaigners were pleased to have confronted the councillors directly. The cuts they are imposing on Kingston will wreck lives as jobs are lost and public services that working-class people rely on are scaled back. The most vulnerable residents will be particularly hard hit, as much of the cuts are coming from adult social care and services for children with Special Educational Needs.