Video: Protesters tell council to rethink controversial cuts

PASSIONS ran high as frustrated protesters got the chance to confront the county’s transport boss ahead of an anxiously anticipated meeting on controversial council cuts.

One schoolgirl, Hannah, pleaded bosses to let her lollipop lady stay, saying without her the road outside Dale Hall Primary was “dangerous.”

The girl’s mother, Claire Laughlin, said the council should “look closer to home” when deciding where to make cuts, adding: “God forbid, if anything happened to a child it would bring shame on this council.”

Each protester had there own reason to demonstrate ahead of today’s crunch meeting - some called for the council to halt the closure of smaller libraries, others spoke emotionally about the need to keep crossing patrols in the county’s schools.

Transport boss Guy McGregor was among the few cabinet members to speak to the crowd, as he accepted a stack of petitions and listened as one mother made her feelings clear. Mr McGregor said he hoped the service could “work better” with community involvement and “other organisations playing their part”.

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But opposition leader Sandy Martin slammed the proposal, saying he was “angry and disgusted” with the government’s approach to the budget. “It’s clear people really care about these services,” he added. “There anger is over the loss of those services.”

“The level of cuts is massively too high. By making them, we’re in real danger of entering deep recession.”

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Anne Ryan, lollipop lady at Felixstowe’s Langer Primary, said the council had kept everyone in the dark until being pushed on the issue of cuts, adding: “We’re adults, not children. At least give us enough respect to keep us informed.

“If I go, it will be carnage on the roads outside our school. Children will be killed. We have to prevent people’s safety being put in jeopardy.”

Earlier, an impassioned band of protesters has gathered at county headquarters today to make clear their dismay at proposed cuts to public spending in Suffolk.

Union members joined voluntary workers and residents of rural villages, angry at the prospect of losing what they see as indispensable services, under threat from county council budget saving measures.

Protests are planned all day outside Endeavour House, in Ipswich, where the 2011/12 budget is to be discussed by the Conservative-run authority.

One demonstrator, Cad Taylor, of CSV Media, said: “We’re now at a stage where this affects everybody.

“We’re at risk of losing our smaller rural services in one fell swoop.

“I hope the council has spent the last week thinking very carefully about the choices they make today.”

Tattingstone resident, Airavata Carroll, added: “We’ll find out more by the end of the day, but our village will potentially lose its mobile library and bus services.

“We realise people have to tighten their belts but we want to see these decisions made on principle.”

Sarah Sanford, branch secretary of the Unite union, said: “We need public services not just restored but improved.

“We’re not against people doing things for themselves but it takes the security of paid employment to do so.

“People need the ability to make a living, and the numbers being made redundant in the public sector is scary.”

- Log on to this site from 2pm for live coverage of the council meeting, protests and the chance to have your say.

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