On June 30th, while teachers and civil servants went on strike against attacks on their pensions, Nottinghamshire County Council was meeting to slash the Supporting People and daycare budgets. A small lobby was organised in front of County Hall by Notts County Unison in protest.
Protesters included Unison members, service users and supporters. Leaflets about the cuts and attacks on pensions were distributed to people coming into the building.
There were also speeches through the megaphone. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be all that many people coming into County Hall to hear them. Possibly they came in through another entrance, or perhaps strike action by teachers had more of an effect than anticipated, forcing staff to take time off to look after kids.
A few Labour councillors wandered out to mouth predictable platitudes before disappearing back inside. The protest was initially overseen by a couple of police officers, but they soon realised that their presence was unnecessary and left.
There was a brief flurry of interest as a photographer from the Post turned up. He left with a not-in-the-least-bit staged line-up shot and a copy of the leaflet. Whether the story will actually make it into the paper remains to be seen.
The protesters hung around for around one and a half hours, with a few supporters drifting in and out, fitting the protest around their work commitments. Shortly before 10am when the meeting was due to start, they drifted off, ultimately headed to the strike march beginning from the Forest Recreation Ground.
At the time of writing, the supporting people cuts have been voted through (after two hours debate according to the council's Twitter feed) with the "modernisation" of daycare currently on the agenda. Almost inevitably, this too will eventually go through.
It is easy to get disheartened when protests seem to fail like this, but this should not be seen as the end. The mass strike today marks the next step in the anti-cuts movement. If this movement can continue to grow it holds the hope that the imposition of austerity on the most vulnerable in society can be stopped and perhaps even reversed.
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