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Lewisham

Community turns out en masse for Lewisham Hospital demo

The demonstration on Saturday 24th November against the closure of A&E and Maternity wards at Lewisham Hospital drew a huge turnout of between 10,000 and 15,000 people yesterday.
Seasoned older marchers agreed it was the biggest demo in the borough since the New Cross Fire of 1981 or Lewisham’s 1977 mobilisation against the National Front.
The numbers, in pouring rain and on the same day as a demo against the ongoing atrocities in Gaza, showed massive popular feeling and determination to fight the closure.
The crowd was very local and very diverse, all the different populations of Lewisham from the local pensioners forum to small woolly-hatted girls holding placards saying “I could have died by the time the ambulance reached Woolwich” walking alongside huge numbers of NHS workers.

Ray Woolford: putting profit before people

Ray Woolford is hard to avoid in local politics in Lewisham. He’s a political activist, four-time local election candidate, editor of the Lewisham Campaigner, bankroller of the local self-styled ‘revolutionary socialist’ Lewisham People Before Profit party, owner of Housemartins estate agents and former owner of the now closed Come the Revolution cafe.  We want to highlight the risks involved in working with him (and indeed, anyone associated with him), and advise everyone to give him a very wide berth. 
 
As the owner of Come the Revolution he
• Fired workers who joined Unite, the union
• Used threats of closing the business to get his way
• Accused workers of theft to cover up his own mismanagement
• Used the government’s workfare schemes for free labour
 

Immigration checks are everywhere - New Cross bus stop, latest hot spot.

Report from a South London Solfed member.

On my way to work this morning I found the bus stops around New Cross bus garage swarming with police and UKBA immigration officers. I saw a man being questioned by immigration officials and surrounded by several police under the bus shelter. This was a bit weird and unnerving so I sent a mass txt out to warn people and pass on the message.

Catford Holland and Barrett picket

As part of the national day of action against workfare and the IWA days of action, SLSF picketed Holland and Barrett along with 20 other SF locals and others around the country. 


A heavy security presence in Lewisham Shopping Centre was outwitted when protesters moved down the road to Catford where a noisy demonstration began outside the local Holland & Barrett.  The store closed as 20+ SLSF and comrades chanted, sang and dished out leaflets.  Many people passing supported the need to take action against forced labour, particularly in a borough which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. 

South London N30

On November 30th, South London Solfed set out to support the strike in Lewisham. Members and friends got together with food, drink and positive energy for the pickets. We started at the town hall at 7am and moved north through the borough stopping at Kaleidoscope (NHS), Job Centre Plus, Lewisham Hospital, Wearside refuse centre and Goldsmiths college.

 

As well as bringing supplies, we helped leaflet and tried convincing workers not to cross picket lines. We found few union members willing to challenge their colleagues in a meaningful way. Having a group of 30 supporting picket lines boosted visibility and confidence, but workers will have to become more active in their workplaces to make the real difference. We hope that as this struggle goes on the social stigma attached to scabbing returns and we see stronger picket lines.

 

Lewisham Carnival Against Cuts

On 19th February 700 people marched through Lewisham to protest against local and national austerity measures. The “Carnival Against Cuts” had starting points all over the borough which converged at the Town Hall and marched to the centre of Lewisham. Despite the rain there was a good atmosphere with a samba band, singing, chanting and even SolFed members in wigs! The usual speeches were made by the usual people but 700 people on a Lewisham protest is not usual. It’s a positive sign but much more needs to be done.

South London SolFed leaflet produced for the event:

STRIKE, BLOCKADE, SABOTAGE!

New Cross Library Occupation

At 5 pm on Sat 5th feb, a group of about 30-50 local people, including members of SolFed and other local anarchists, occupied New Cross library. Initially this had been part of a national ‘read in’, supporting threatened libraries across the country, but developed into an occupation as participants decided to stay.

As the only occupation out of 450 read-ins, New Cross got a good amount of press. This was more or less the aim; getting publicity for the libraries campaign and keeping up the momentum of the anti-cuts movement in general.  As one optimistic campaigner, James Holland, put it; “I think with this occupation we are going to take the libraries campaign – and the anti-cuts campaign in general – to a whole new level.”

Cuts spark town hall riot in Lewisham

Inspired by the recent student protests and angry about proposed local cuts, people in Lewisham stormed the town hall where a vote on the cuts was taking place. Around 100 people tried to force their way into the building in an attempt to stop the vote going ahead. Some protestors got to the council chamber whilst others faced police brutality in the lobby, where batons and fists rained down on the protest. After half an hour, the protestors were ejected from the building. The meeting was subsequently held in private where the first wave of cuts were passed by the Labour-run council.

The lobby at the town hall continued outside where several hundred people faced riot police, horses and dogs. There were so many officers that the south circular road outside the town hall was closed due to the number of police cars and vans.

Lewisham council lobby

On the 29th November, Lewisham held its full council meeting to agree its first tranche of cuts, involving over 400 job losses, cuts to services and the closure of a children's centre. Not yet agreed were proposals to close five libraries.

Lewisham Occupation

Since 23rd April parents of pupils at Lewisham Bridge Primary School in Lewisham, south east London, and their supporters have been occupying a school roof. They are protesting against Lewisham Council’s plans to demolish the school building and replace it with a school for children aged 3 to16. The proposed new school will be squeezed into a site presently occupied by the primary school, which has less than half of the 835 pupils projected for the “all age” school, so play areas and room sizes would fall below government recommendations.

The new school would only have one primary class per year, instead of the current school’s two. Eleanor Davies, whose six year old son, attends the school, said:

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