CAMPAIGNERS protesting over cuts to their jobs and services were branded “f**king idiots” and told to “get real” by a mayor last night.
Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock’s foul-mouthed outburst came after he was heckled by protestors at a Mayor and Cabinet meeting in Lewisham Town Hall.
As Sir Steve began talking about cost-cutting for this year he told the meeting: “I can’t say I’m over the moon about this.”
A woman in the audience shouted out: “Don’t do it then.”
The mayor hit back: “Oh, get real.”
To a further call not to close five libraries, Sir Steve muttered: “F**king idiots.”
He then went on to approve a range of £2.75m cuts for this year, following a slash in government funding, which will be implemented provided they are approved at an overview and scrutiny meeting this month.
A range of deeper cuts, including the closure of five libraries, closing at least one early childhood centre and reducing staff across the council’s departments, are also being considered by council officers for implementation over the next three years.
No decision has yet been made on those and residents will be consulted on the proposals before final plans are considered by the mayor in November.
Councillor Paul Maslin said he hoped residents’ opinions would “bring common sense to bear” on the government’s plans to cut public spending by 25 per cent to wipe out the national deficit.
Earlier, members of the NUT and Right to Work campaign had joined others outside to lobby the meeting, calling for the mayor to scrap the plans and oppose the government’s plans.
Asked about his outburst afterwards, Sir Steve said: “I think I may have left the mic on while I was making an aside.”
He added: “I don’t honestly know what planet they’re living on which is probably why I was quite irritated.
“The idea that somehow we in Lewisham Council decide that we won’t make any cuts while the rest of Britain is having its public services reduced by 25 per cent is nonsense.”
Lewisham NUT secretary Martin Powell-Davies said afterwards: “Perhaps the mayor was rattled that, at very short notice, a lobby of 100 trade unionists and campaigners had made clear that local people aren’t going to accept these cuts.
“Perhaps that outburst shows the pressure that a Labour mayor is under.”