Our protest at the Mayor and Cabinet meeting started gathering about 5pm outside civic suite of Lewisham town hall. The decision whether to close over half of Lewisham’s community centres was due to be made by the mayor and cabinet at 6pm. It was a lively crowd, and very mixed, with both people from community centres and political groups there. There was music and singing and speaches were made. The reaction from the public was very positive. Many drivers honked their horns, and passers by signed the petition.
At 6pm we packed out the public seating in the civic suite room. Even though it can seat up to 130 people, there were people having to stand.
Representatives of the community centres spoke on their centres. These included the Barnes Wallis Community Centre, Brandram Road Hall, Honor
Oak Community centre, Woodpecker Community Centre, Wesley Halls, and the Saville Centre. The mood among the crowd was positive and supportive, and every speach earned applause. One that inspired a strong response from the audience during it was given by Bishop Baptist of the Woodpecker estate. He spoke powerfully on the role that community centres play in the deprived area of Deptford where the Woodpecker estate is located, and the rise in crime and associated problems that comes with the loss of these facilities.
Representatives of the community centres are united in the view that their points have been mostly overlooked by the council, who do not have a clear idea where the groups based in the centres are going to go when the centres are shut down. There was a small amount of protesting done in the civic suite. At one
point a member of the audience got out a banner demanding that the council challenge the Tory cuts more strongly, or resign. There were also some heckles and boos as the motions were passed. Overall, it was a disappointing outcome, but the protesters made their views clear, and the fight will go on.
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