Labour defends £30m budget cuts

Lambeth’s lead councillor for finance has defended the way cuts are being made ahead of tonight’s annual budget setting meeting.

Labour cllr Paul McGlone, cabinet member for finance, says that he and his team have done the best they can in the face of “enormous” government cuts.

Despite planned protests outside the town hall by angry residents, he said the council will continue to deliver safe and effective services for the most vulnerable.

McGlone told the Blog today: “We are coming from the stance that the scale of the cuts is is enormous. It is £1 in every £3 spent. In addition the government has cut capital funding for decent homes and school places.”

The Labour councillor said he has been working on the budget with officers since last July, and there is no easy way of cutting more than £50million from revenue spending over the next three years.

Quizzed over the £5million to be cut from the Children and Young People’s budget next year, including £1.375million from staffing the borough’s children’s centres, McGlone said: “We want to deliver on our promise to protect front line services, and that’s why two thirds of the reductions are comeing from back office and management functions. But of course we have had to reduce some functions.”

He added: “I have asked all along is it safe to do this, and managers are very clear that it is safe.”

Hundreds of protesters, organised by Lambeth Save our Services, are expected outside Lambeth Town Hall this evening to disagree with cllr McGlone’s comments.

Mum Grace Lally brings her children to the One O’Clock clubs at Loughborough Park and Max Roach Park. She said “This year I have seen the One O’Clock clubs run down due to council cuts.

“Staff have been cut, hours have been cut and the clubs are often closed at short notice due to staff shortages.”

Ms Lally said she fears plans for a “co-operative council” that will see volunteers and charitable organisations take over the services in place of the council, will lead to further closures. She added: “We have no idea what the council intend to do, and if we will continue to have a service we all rely on.”

Follow the meeting live in the Brixton Blog here.