When you spend more on ASBO's than youth clubs, when you try to ban exhibitions because they are critical of you, when you put education in the hands of the arms manufacturers and when you treat a world class museum and collection as little more than a wedding venue you have a problem.
In the past year our council has done all the above and more. They have taken away from us the meeting rooms we need to flourish as a community, they have reduced the organisations and groups that we can belong to to express ourselves by starving them of funds, but they have increased the number of cameras watching us, filled the pockets of a multitude of consultants, and paid vast sums to developers for schemes that we do not want or need.
When they run up against opposition they may back down, or rather postpone their decision in the hope that in the mean time the opposition will go away. For example, when the dinner ladies marched on the Town Hall they were granted a stay of execution for one year, when the forest philharmonic was priced out of the the Assembly rooms they were granted a partial stay for three years, they are allowed to have three concerts a year there at the old price for three years.
But these examples are only for what are seen as politically damaging concerns, if your library is closed and the books are burnt, your meeting room sold off, or your education class is cut, some how you don't matter.
The worst example is the William Morris Gallery, they staff have all gone, the skilled and experienced experts who look after a £60,000,000 collection gone to save £43,000. Then the council realise they are in trouble because they have not thought their plans through, so they commit themselves to spend £98,000 a year, the staff have still gone, they have not replaced the expertise needed to look after the collection, the council are floundering around with no clear plan of what to do. And a lot of the responsibility lies with some council officers, in posts they cannot handle and promoted beyond their abilities, ineffectually controlled by inept councilors.
Do have a look at the BBC news item on the Gallery, it can be viewed here on u-tube: http://www.youtube.com/v/t88gEJMs1QA&hl=en or click here
The problem is that the council think they a running a business, guided by their neo-liberal economic models, with each committee a little profit centre, a coucil run by a small clique in the cabinet, rubber stamped by the full council meeting. They should be concentrating on providing an infrastructure and services that let us flourish within them. To many councilors are looking over their shoulders for "promotion", wanting to become leaders of the council, chairs of committees or MP's, they are afraid to rock the boat, a boat that is very shaky and leaking anyway, for fear of what their parties my think.
We have the longest daily market in Europe, how much vision would it take to make that a draw for London, another Camden or Portobello Road, we have probably the best known dog track in the country, the Stow, the Assembly Rooms have the best acoustics found in Britain, and we have the worlds greatest collection of William Morris and Arts and Crafts artifacts. All of those places, correctly promoted, could draw visitors to the borough increase spending and boost our infrastucture. The cafes and restaurants and pubs could flourish, we might even get a few other galleries starting up.
Spending on cultural provision returns five fold and boosts the well being of the population. Where is the arts centre the council have been promising us for the last 30 years, where is our cinema, our theatre, where are our youth clubs. Where is the vision for a better future, not with our council I fear, join us.
Protest against further cuts of cultural services and staff in Waltham Forest print this poster out and stick it in your window
Download the culture bin A4 poster here, a 6mbit pdf file .
Or contact info@antscrap for a printed copy in either A4 or A3.