Bristol City Council Block Entry to Public as They Vote For £33m Cuts
Bristol mayor Marvin Rees addressed the Bristol City Council budget meeting yesterday, claiming “transparency is a key commitment”. Minutes later the public gallery was cleared by security staff, leaving councillors to discuss the city’s budget behind closed doors. In an unprecedented move members of the public were then cleared from City Hall altogether.
Unaccountable private security staff were again deployed by the council as an anti-cuts protest gathered outside City Hall from 5pm. Members of the public were physically blocked from entering, first at the bottom of the access ramp and then again at the door.
In a shocking incident, Bristol and District Anti-Cuts Alliance (BADACA) campaigner Mike Luff was bitten by security staff as he tried to gain access to the meeting. The violent attack drew blood and the victim was later treated in hospital.
Complaints will be followed up against the council. This attempt to undermine the democratic right to protest will not be tolerated.
BADACA spokesperson Tom Baldwin said:
“We saw disgraceful behaviour from Bristol City Council last night. This was not just a vicious assault on one individual, it was an attack on local democracy and on the right to protest. Councillors and the mayor are supposed to represent the people of this city, it is our right to witness the discussions and decisions that they are making. If Marvin Rees claims that he must make these cuts then he should be upfront and honest about the process, not hiding behind closed doors and hired thugs.
“Disgusting as the biting incident was, the most violent act committed that night took place inside the council chamber itself. The budget passed contains £33m cuts, as part of over £100m being cut in the next few years. Councillors have voted to devastate services that many Bristolians rely on.”
BADACA Pledges That 'The Fight Goes On' as Bristol City Council pass cuts budget.
The huge cuts laid out in the budget passed last night (Tuesday 21st February) by Bristol City Council are not acceptable to the people of Bristol. We hear the excuses from the Labour Party that they have no alternative and the Tory government made them do it. But if this is really true, then why do we even bother electing local politicians?
As we set out in our petition, signed by 456 people, which we presented to the budget meeting yesterday, Labour councils could legally choose to use reserves & prudential borrowing to suspend the cuts and joint the fight for more money. A united campaign of ordinary people, anti-austerity groups, the trade unions and Labour councils would put huge pressure on the Tory government to capitulate and properly fund local government. Surrey County Council have proved that central government can be pressurised into providing more money and we will continue to campaign for the Labour Party to adopt this policy rather than destroying the services that hold our city together.
BADACA Organising Secretary, Matthew Carey said, “It is a tragedy that the Labour Party has chosen to pass this budget enabling them to move towards huge cuts to vital services in Bristol. But for BADACA, the fight goes on! We will fight every step of the way to defend voluntary sector services, bus services, libraries, Neighbourhood Partnerships, public toilets, Customer Service Points, meals on wheels, care services, children's centres, leisure centres and all other threatened services as detailed proposals are put forward by the council.”