Teather no-show angers residents

A PUBLIC debate on whether government cuts are necessary went ahead despite one of two speakers pulling out.

Residents and community leaders expressed outrage over schools minister and Brent Central MP Sarah Teather’s decision to stay away at the packed Brent Fightback meeting at Willesden Green High Road, in High Road, Willesden.

The Lib Dem MP blamed ministerial commitments despite having suggested the January 13 date herself.

Ken Montague, chair of Brent Campaign Against Climate Change, said: “I feel outraged that Sarah Teather is not here or sent anyone else.

“I have known her for years and before she would have been up the front at meetings, carrying banners at demos and getting her picture taken by the press, we are insulted.”

Labour’s Brent Council was also criticised for being too quick to implement the cuts.

Graham Durham, a member of Friends of Cricklewood Library, said: “It’s pretty hopeless when all parties are for the cuts. We don’t have to do what the government says. We have fought and won against Brent Council before and we will do it again.”

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However he warned of library action groups fighting individual campaigns encouraging all six libraries under threat of closure to be occupied.

Jean Roberts, branch secretary for teachers’ unions the NUT and ATL, and Phil O’Reilly, branch secretary for public sector workers’ Unison, announced plans to work with other unions to fight job cuts in their respective sectors and the conversion of state schools into academies.

Mrs Roberts said both the Jewish Free School and Claremont School would soon be holding secret ballots on whether to become academies.

Meanwhile John McDonnell, a left-wing Labour MP and main speaker at the event, said: “Sarah Teather must be embarrassed if not disgraced by what the government is doing and if she won’t come to you we must go to her.”

A spokeswoman for Sarah Teather previously said: “Sarah is of course happy to meet with any of her constituents to talk about these issues and is in fact due to meet with Peter Firmin (chair of Brent TUC) and Ken Montague at her advice surgery on the 28th of January.”

Union, civil and disability groups will march from Central Middlesex Hospital and the College of North West London, in Dudden Hill Lane, at 5.30pm to Sarah Teather’s surgery at Harlesden Methodist Church, in High Street, Harlesden, to lobby her at 7.30pm.