Big Society video comes back to haunt Sam Cam
Labour council closes Big Society centre Samantha Cameron raved about at general election
Samantha Cameron, wife of Prime Minister David Cameron, has been dragged into the row over her husband's Big Society project and the local government budget cuts.
A north London paper has recounted how Sam Cam visited the Camden-based Surma Centre whilst her husband was campaigning for election last year. She was so impressed with the centre, which runs a lunch club, day care for elderly Asian people and health advice groups, that she even made a YouTube video about it.
She raved about the "fantastic" place that was the epitome of the Big Society, adding that "most of the people I spoke to said they would be lost without the centre, which helps over 7,000 people every year". She even promised to come back again for another curry.
However, it looks like Sam Cam won't get a chance to keep her word. The community centre, which is run by the local Bengali Workers' Association (BWA), is soon to have all of its annual £125,000 funding withdrawn due to council budget cuts.
Camden's Labour council leader, Nasim Ali, urged members of the BWA to take up their grievances with the prime minister's wife. Speaking on Tuesday, he said: "Samantha Cameron came and cooked here for votes. Where is she now? If you want to lobby, lobby Sam Cam."
Not everyone, however, is taken in by Ali's finger-pointing. BWA's project manager, Jilani Chowdhury, told the Camden New Journal that although his people were angry with the PM's wife, they were also angry at the Labour council.
"It is the council's decision," he added. "This is a unique project, the only project in Camden for south Asian people. Cutting 100 per cent... sometimes I think this council is Conservative."
A spokesman for Samantha Cameron stoked the fire by commenting: "This is a decision taken by a Labour-run council that has spent more than £3m on publicity in the last 12 months. [It is] a cynical move by another Labour council determined to play politics with people's lives."
Sam Cam's spokesman added that Councillor Ali had claimed "the best part of £100,000 in perks over just four years". This meant, the spokesman said, that "Councillor Ali's allowances since 2007 would keep the centre open for eight months". ·
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