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Police officers had to be brought in to mind the protesters as Bexley councillors voted through £35.3 million worth of cuts.

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Protesters

Residents who attended the meeting last night had to have their bags searched and those with cameras were banned from entering.

There were shouts of ‘shame’, “cutting respite care is not right” and “good old democracy” from the residents in the public gallery who amounted to approximately 165.

Heckler Charan Athwal, 60, from Bexleyheath, had to be warned by the security guards repeatedly to be quiet and later the leader of the opposition Chris Ball tried to calm him.

The raft of cuts which will begin next month will see the closure of the Bexley Council for Equality and Diversity (BCED) which was founded 40 years ago.

Police were brought in to guard the civic offices

Cuts also include a reduction in the number of days adults with learning disabilities can use day centres and reducing transport to and from school for students with special educational needs.

The budget will see £35.3 million cuts over a three-year period to 2014. The council intends to save £15.3 million in the forthcoming financial year. This includes £1.6 million in children’s services and £1.2 million in health and adult care.

Protesters gathered around the back doors to chant “care, not cuts” as councillors entered the emotionally charged meeting.

Conservative councillors rejected the Labour amendments to their cuts package which was announced last October.

Protesters outside the civic office

Labour’s proposals included removing six months worth of cuts from the learning disabilities budget, as well as removing the cuts to the youth provision.

Outlining how this would be financed, councillor Ball stated scrutiny costs would be reduced and £375,000 removed from the Housing Stock. The rejected proposals also included reducing the contingency reserve from £10.7 million to £10.1 million which he said was a “pot for a rainy day - and it is now pouring.”

There were deafening boos as 51 councillors voted in favour of the budget while all 11 Labour councillors voted against. One member was absent.

How do these cuts affect you? Contact marina.soteriou@archant.co.uk or call 0208 269 7012

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