At its meeting on 23 February, the Tory dominated Bromley Council was forced into a rethink over its plans to cut funding for the Priory, Orpington and Bromley’s oldest building, and the Bromley Youth Music Trust (BYMT).
By 11 February, the Executive had decided to postpone the sell off of the Priory for 3 months to allow for alternative solutions to be examined. This followed massive public protests, supported by the Labour Party.
Similar pressure from the public, again with Labour support, followed the Council’s plans to cut all funding for the Bromley Youth Music Trust. The Trust will now continue to receive some funding while the council explores other plans to fund Bromley’s musical ‘jewel in the crown’ – to quote a chastened Tory councillor.
The Council Leader introduced an amendment to his own Budget motion, effectively endorsing a Labour amendment to be moved by Councillor Angela Wilkins, Leader of the Labour Group.
However, huge cuts to staff in Trading Standards, Food Safety, Licensing, Public Health & Nuisance, Community Safety and Housing were forced through.
Other cuts were to Youth Support, Extra Care Housing capacity and advice, Winter Shelter contribution, CAB advice, Children’s Disability Service Assessment, Care Management of elderly people, and support for ethnic and minority groups.
With these cuts the most vulnerable people in Bromley will pay a disproportionate cost for the financial crisis caused by the reckless and greedy bankers.
There were frequent interruptions from a packed public gallery as the Tories pleaded government cuts forced their hands. All 7 Labour Councillors spoke in the debate, highlighting the devastating effects these cuts would have on many Bromley residents. Loud applause from the public gallery greeted the Labour speeches.
Labour voted against all the cuts to front line services, while accepting that some could be made in other areas. Labour councillors also pointed out that while the Council had been placed in a difficult situation, it was their own party’s committment to excessive and swift austerity that was at fault.
Earlier, a very full orchestra from the Bromley Youth Music Trust, playing at full volume, greeted the councillors as they arrived for the meeting.
By Nigel de Gruchy,
Labour parliamentary candidate for Orpington 2015.