Hundreds of people in South West Edinburgh in particular are up in arms about plans announced by the SNP/Liberal Democrat led City of Edinburgh Council to close 6 community centres in the area.
I was invited to join 50 of them last night at a heated 'consultation' meeting held in Wester Hailes Community Education Centre [WHEC] and I must say I was inspired. The audience, mainly women, told City Council officials from the Community Learning Department in no uncertain terms what they could do with their plans to close community centres in Colinton Mains, Longstone and Sighthill, the Gorgie Memorial Hall and the adult literacy programmes 'Platform' and 'The Number Shop'.
I was less than inspired to see Labour and Tory Councillors in the meeting playing a less than honest game with the protesters. These two parties have a record of cuts going back decades in Edinburgh but here they were suggesting they could be trusted to defend vital community services in this city.
Thankfully I was able to set the record straight, that there is only one party in this city whose hands are clean, only one party which has opposed all these attacks on community centres and programmes working people depend on for the past 10 years and its the Scottish Socialist Party - no one else!
Of course none of the SNP/Lib Dem Councillors elected in May 2007 on a 'NO CUTS' programme had the courage to turn up and defend their decision last night, or indeed at any of the other so called 'consultation meetings'. Instead they sent along their staff to explain why £120,000 was to be cut from these vital community facilities.
Under the SNP/Lib Dem plans the number of community centres in Edinburgh is to be further cut from 43 to 37. Adult literacy and youth work budgets will face attack.
I have visited Colinton Mains and Gorgie Memorial Hall in the last couple of days to see for myself the work they do and to listen to their case for ongoing support. I have been very very impressed by how popular and busy these two centres are and I have promised my support as SSP national spokesman and candidate for Edinburgh South West. They provide vital services to local communities and support local people and its right and fitting we offer them our backing.
I also look forward to meeting Lynsey and the other women running the Longstone After School club next Wednesday.