Brent protesters join anti-cuts march

Union official asks where are Labour councillors

PEOPLE from Brent joined the biggest demonstration the country has seen in nearly a decade as more than 250,000 people protested against government spending cuts.

Four large banners could be seen bearing the borough’s name as activists and ordinary people marched from the Embankment to Hyde Park on Saturday angry at the Conservative and Liberal Democrat’s decision to push through the cuts so quickly that will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable.

Brent Council was forced to slash more than �40 million off its budget this year leading to library closures, cuts in adult and social care and increases in service charges.

However, Brent Council’s Labour councillors have been accused of accepting and implementing the cuts too easily.

Phil O’Reilly, Brent branch secretary of public sector workers union Unison, said: “The council are in an awkward position but what’s the point in having a Labour council if they don’t make any noise, the council should be doing more. How many councillors have turned up to the march?”

Cllr Ann John, Brent’s council leader, said 16 Labour councillors turned up while the others were either sick or on council business.

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Cllr Linclon Beswick (Lab: Harlesden), Brent Council’s lead member for crime and safety, and Cllr Ruth Moher (Lab: Fryent), lead member for adult, health and social care, both marched under the Brent Labour Party banner.

Cllr Beswick said: “It’s important we are here to demonstrate against this government abuse. We have multi-millionaires making decisions for the majority of people in the country [but] it is the working class people who are going to suffer from these cuts; it should be done more gradually.”

Walking alongside Brent Unison’s banner were members of Brent Trades Union Council, which represents trade unions in Brent, and Brent Fightback, a coalition of civil society groups opposed to service and funding cuts.

Patrick O’Shea, of Ealing Road, Alperton, who uses services at Brent Mencap and marched with Brent Fightback, said: “There are many people from the handicap sector that would like to be here but couldn’t come. But we have to keep the cuts in peoples’ minds otherwise for a lot of people think they don’t matter until they lose their jobs.”

Brent Council must find a further �60 million in spending reductions over the next three years as a result of the spending cuts.