Suffolk/Essex: Hundreds add their voice to protest march

HUNDREDS of protesters from Suffolk and Essex travelled to London to march against Government spending cuts.

Representatives against library closures, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) took part in the Trade Union Congress’s March for the Alternative on Saturday.

There were also representatives from the Suffolk Coalition for Public Services.

Marchers set off from Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park, where speakers took to the stage to begin the protest.

The march – attended by between 250,000 and 500,000 people – was largely peaceful but a faction turned violent, leading to 201 arrests. Two people were charged.

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Jennie Pink marched to show her concern for the potential closure of 29 Suffolk libraries.

“It was fantastic because everyone united to show their feelings – it was emotional,” she said.

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“I was there not only because I am fighting for Saxmundham Library, but for all libraries. The closure of libraries means people will no longer have access to things that give them hope and dreams.”

Graham White, NUT divisional secretary, said he was marching as a “concerned parent, concerned citizen and a concerned teacher”.

“It was a fantastic day and I think we achieved in proving a point,” he added.

“The sheer amount of people was incredible and the violence only represented a very small minority of people.

“It was clear that there was going to be violence from the beginning, and it was disappointing. But at least we got our thoughts heard on these awful cuts to services.”

Andy Message, acting brigade secretary for the FBU, said: “We had more than 50 people attend and I think that it was a perfect opportunity for people across the country to voice concerns at the plans to reduce the deficit.

“I think we successfully represented the people of Suffolk and we shared views with people from other areas. It’s very important that we all stick together and the protest was a platform for this to happen.”

Jim Reid was protesting against the “slashing” of services, including Rosehill Library, and the cost-cutting measures set to affect the fire service. He said: “It was a great day out with a carnival-like atmosphere.”

Andy Abbott, spokesman for Colchester Against The Cuts, who took more than 200 people to London, said: “It was a terrific day and the TUC march was entirely peaceful.

“The cuts are entirely ideologically driven – they’re not driven by economics.

“Nobody would be talking about the deficit if there had not been a worldwide recession which was caused by the banking crisis.

“I think Saturday’s march will make a difference. The Government is about to go through a difficult period, the Lib Dems are going to get an absolute hiding in May and this march will put particular pressure on them.”

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