ABOUT 200 people hit the streets this week to join a church-led protest against Government spending cuts.
Rev Chris Key and local church members were joined by politicians and passers-by for Saturday’s event to launch the petition calling for a fairer financial deal for Hastings. And with the help of the Salvation Army Brass Band, Rev Key led those gathered in a rousing rendition of a protest song he had written to the tune of Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.
Rev Key said: “It was good to see so many people here - some who go to church but many who don’t. We are very clear about what we want - we want Hastings to get the average level of cuts. We want to enable Hastings to have a voice and say to the Government - ‘This is not fair.’
“What is being proposed at the moment will have very difficult effects on charities, individuals and families.”
Peter Skinner, a Labour MEP and several Labour councillors also turned out in support but Rev Key insisted: “Jesus was not party political, but he did speak out on behalf of people who were in need, and that is what we are doing. I have nothing against Amber Rudd, or any political party, but this is real money that will not be getting to the people who need it.”
But an event held at Parkwood sixth form on Friday, Ms Rudd launched a defiant defence of the way Hastings has been treated.
She said: “A lot of misinformation has been bandied around about how Hastings has done badly but I just do not accept that. The per head grant is still substantially higher than elsewhere in the country.”
She said that Hastings residents had been allocated £90 a head this year, compared to the national average of £60 and she warned Hastings Borough Council she would be scrutinising its spending decisions. She said the public sector had to cope with spending cuts in the same way the private sector would and called on her audience to help hold the council to account.
“The only way to police it is to stay on top of it and make sure the right choices are made on our behalf,” she said.
n More than 200 people from 1066 Country have already signed up to attend the national demonstration against the cuts, being held in London on Saturday, March 26.
Hastings Against the Cuts and the PCS union are laying on coaches on the day leaving from the White Rock Theatre at 8.30am – email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07807 289253 to reserve a place.