Haringey council chambers occupiedTagged as: budget cuts haringey occupation solidarity wood_green
Neighbourhoods: haringey wood_green
Several hundred people protested outside the budget meeting at wood green civic centre tonight. the building was occupied, and more than twenty people managed to break through a small police line and enter the council chamber, where they delayed the council meeting by nearly two hours. two were arrested after 3 van loads of TSG officers were called in to clear the building. A solidarity vigil was quickly organised outside hornsey police station where they were taken.
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a crowd of several hundred people gathered tonight outside the wood green civic centre, where haringey councillors were due to pass cuts of £87 million over three years, with more than a thousand jobs to go and three quarters of the youth service being destroyed. the cuts will also hit the elderly with care homes and drop-in centres being targetted.
the closure of youth services will have knock-on effects after years of good work. i spoke to staff from a youth project 'the base' which is already a volunteer run 'big society' service, but the cuts have already taken their toll and the project is losing its building next month. the project worked with local police and helped steer young people away from crime and gangs.
after some speeches from local activist organisations and an open mic, the crowd moved into the building, and at first queued politely for the public gallery, but soon decided to attempt an occupation of the council chamber.
a handful of police failed to stop people from mounting the stairs, and half a dozen police tried to preven access to the council chamber, but the weight of numbers provided the power to push through and despite some police violence, more than 20 people managed to invade the chamber with banners.
the public gallery then filled up, and in the chamber, with no councillors attending the meeting, a budget of no cuts was passed by the newly formed people's assembly.
however, elsewhere in the building, the greedy, careerist, self-serving councillors had found another space. suddenly the fire alarms went off, and (useful to remember in similar buildings) the doors operated by a swipe-card system all opened to allow evacuation. a group of a dozen or so protestors managed to push past a couple of police and headed down a corridor to where the councillors were skulking.
as more police pushed the protestors back, and the councillors made a hasty retreat through a fire exit, three vanloads of TSG turned up and flooded the corridor. people were pushed back and down some stairs, where some fell, and two people were arrested.
meanwhile, in the chamber, the activists were told by a councillor that they must leave the building or that he would ask the police to arrest them. after some discussion, a concensus was reached, and while people on the ground floor were being forcibly removed from the building by TSG officers, the occupiers and the people in the public gallery walked out together as a group. after some more noisy protesting outside the chamber, a group headed down to hornsey police station for a solidarity protest over the two who were arrested.
almost immediately, the councillors, who it seems had been waiting outside the back of the building, then poured in through the back door and up to the council chamber. there, starting their meeting two hours later than scheduled, they proceeded to vote through the devastating cuts.
last year haringey's director of children and young people's service received a salary and pension contribution of £282,670. tonight, he voted to pass a 75% cut to haringey's youth service.
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