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On 20th February Leicester City Councillors met to debate and vote on the 2013/14 budget. As with previous recent budgets this was a budget of cuts to services and jobs. Against a backdrop of plans to build a £4 million public square in the city centre, a £6 million annexe to the indoor market and an extension to New Walk, the City Mayors budget proposed cuts to Children’s Centres, Social Services and Homeless Hostels. Members of Leicester SWP, Trade Unionists and members of the public gathered outside the town hall as Councillors arrived and there were chants and slogans shouted against the cuts.
Around 50 people including the ‘Streetlife Action Group’ occupied the town hall taking banners and placards inside and shouting at arriving Councillors to vote against the cuts.
During the council meeting which heard the City Mayor and Labour Councillors speak against the cuts to services but still vote unanimously to accept the budget, protesters who packed the public gallery booed and shouted ‘shame!’.
Across the country services and public sector jobs are being slashed while at the same time we hear that publicly owned RBS, following losses of £5 billion last year, were allowed to award £600 million in bonuses. Over and over again, ordinary people are being asked to pay for a crisis that we did not cause.
Those opposed to the cuts in Leicester need to put pressure on Labour councillors to oppose all cuts – these councillors should not be doing the governments dirty work. At the same time, union members working for the council should be pushing for strike action to defend jobs and services.