Cuts protest to be staged

First published in News

A CUTS protest is being staged at the headquarters of Worcestershire County Council - as campaigners pledge to turn up with whistles, football rattles and vuvuzelas.

A noisy crescendo will engulf County Hall, with protestors being urged to bring along loud instruments to "make a statement" about the ongoing spending reductions.

The protest, organised by Unison, is expected to include lots of current workers who are fearing for the jobs.

Due to demand on services and unprecedented cuts in Government funding, the authority is planning to shed £103 million from spending by 2018.

Jim Price, from the Worcestershire branch of Unison, says he wants to attract a large gathering.

"It is difficult to see cuts that will devastate the lives of the most vulnerable people in the county in any other light than 'nasty surprises'," he said.

"The elderly people in sheltered accommodation who are losing their wardens, the homeless people who will lose vital council support and the bus users who will see the bus services they rely on disappear will find little comfort in the fact that they know these cuts are imminent.

"We are also anxious for the people who rely on council services and the shattering affect these cuts will have on their lives.

"We're organising a protest to demonstrate the level of anger there is at these cuts, not simply amongst members and council staff but also amongst members of the public."

It will take place on Thursday, February 13 on the same day the council will be voting on the 2014/15 budget.

Called 'Blow the Whistle', people are asked to reach the grounds of County Hall at midday before the noise starts at 12.15pm.

Vuvuzelas were virtually unheard of before the 2010 football World Cup in South Africa, but rose to prominence during that tournament and are now popular at various sporting events.

The budget for 2014/15 includes £29 million of savings and a proposed council tax rise of nearly two per cent.

Councillor Adrian Hardman, the leader, says due to budget pressures "hard choices" need to be made.

"I know some local authorities think a change of Government could be their saviour, but I'm not personally convinced it has room to embark on much stronger support for councils," he said.

"Austerity is starting to be embedded into councils and we've got to think about how we operate to ensure we have a long term future."

For more details on the protest ring Unison on 01905 26186.

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