Suffolk: Community pledges to fight against council cuts

COMMUNITY groups from all corners of Suffolk joined forces in calling for “revolutionary actions” to prevent cuts to the county’s services.

As the axe hangs over many services, concerned residents gathered to express their anger as the county council bids to make cuts as part of its efforts to save �125million over the next four years.

At the meeting, organised by the Suffolk Coalition for Public Services and held at the town hall in Ipswich last night, crowds from across Suffolk pledged their support for school crossings, the coastguard, the fire service, libraries, care homes and the “never-ending list” of services affected by the proposed cuts.

Richard Edwards, of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) said: “We need to unite to fight these attacks which see the vulnerable people at the sharp end of the cuts.

“Services which we love and many services that are needed face extinction but we have choices and we must fight on.

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“These cuts are nonsense, they are not what we voted for and they are simply ideological attacks.”

Abigail Barker, who is running the Save Rosehill Library Campaign in Ipswich, said that she was joining forces with a similar campaign to save Leiston’s much-loved service.

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At the meeting Ms Barker was supported by representatives from the NUT, who both called for “revolutionary actions”.

Simon Leatherdale, who is a professional forester and has also worked for the Forestry Commission for 35 years, said that consultation had been a “mockery” over the planned sell-off because there was no option for keeping things as they are now.

He said: “We are facing 100% cuts and it doesn’t matter how they plan to dispose of the commission, it is a real concern.

“These forests are our birthright and I think that we need to hang on to that birthright.”

Mr Leatherdale said that Rendlesham Forest offered both bio-diversity and incredibly high standards, adding: “Taking our forests away would be an horrific mistake.”

Other speakers told of their love of the “beautiful site which is at the heart of many of Suffolk resident’s upbringing”.

Ian Bendrey, also of PCS, said that a cut to services including the coastguard and fire service would risk lives.

“We currently have 18 maritime rescue centres across the country, all of which have local knowledge of the area they serve,” he said. “The Government is planning to reduce this to just eight, with two call centres.

“Thames Coastguard covers 633 miles of coast and in the last year there were 10,000 incidents in the Thames district. A local knowledge helps us ensure we can reach people as quickly as possible – any delay in getting to people in need of help can cause death. With these cuts delays will be inevitable.”

Tomorrow Suffolk County Council will meet to discuss the budget.

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