Anti-cuts demonstrators disrupt budget talks

Sam Buckley and other demonstrators make their feelings known
Sam Buckley and other demonstrators make their feelings known

ANGRY campaigners disrupted the council meeting with anti-Tory and Lib Dem chanting outside the town hall.

Around 20 protesters gathered to demonstrate against the cuts imposed by the Government and for a spell of more than half an hour it was nigh-on impossible to hear what was being said during the debate from the public gallery.

Even fellow councillors struggled to hear colleagues speak over the cries of “No ifs, no buts, not public sector cuts” and “They say cut back, we say fight back”. This was despite each councillor benefiting from a microphone relayed to loud speakers.

The group was made up of members of UNISON (the country’s biggest public sector trade union), the local Socialist Workers Party and Hastings Against The Cuts.

Organiser Sam Buckley said the group was right to protest against the Coalition Government’s actions, despite the fact Hastings Borough Council is Labour controlled and the meeting was working out how to best cope with a 50 per cent drop in central funding over the next four years.

He said: “The reason we were there chanting about Tories and Lib Dems was because we wanted to make it clear that we blame them for the current problems.”

Mr Buckley, a prominent local unionist, did concede that despite his belief that no cuts need to be made at any level, the “No ifs, no buts” chant was a little off the mark.

“It is a little simplistic,” he said, “what we want is no compulsory redundancies to be made and this council has done a good job in keeping that figure down.”

However, he did criticise the town hall security for suggesting they would move on the protesters, pointing out it was their democratic right to make their voices heard in a peaceful way.

And Mr Buckley refuted suggestions the demonstration had been geared to disrupting the meeting or preventing councillors from being heard.

Despite the tutting in the town hall, the demonstration did in fact get some support from officials. The leader of the council, Jeremy Birch, said that while people might not agree with their methods, at least the protest showed how people felt about the cuts.