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Norwich protest against spending cuts

PUBLISHED: 13:00 24 October 2010

Council workers, firefighters and members of the public joined forces at the weekend to campaign against government spending cuts.

Council workers, firefighters and members of the public joined forces at the weekend to campaign against government spending cuts.

As reported this week, chancellor George Osborne outlined the government’s comprehensive spending review which will see council funding cut by more than 7pc a year in each of the next four years - and the total reduction of about 30pc by 2014-15.

Norfolk County Council deputy leader Ian Mackie said the reduction in local government spending would be “extremely challenging” and that the “Norfolk County Council of the future will be smaller in size”.

As part of the plans, Mr Osborne took his axe to the welfare budget, slashing benefit payments, brought forward to 2020 the date at which the state pension age would rise to 66, confirmed plans to scrap child benefit for households with a higher rate taxpayer and hiked up rents for social housing tenants. the police force and fire brigade also face funding cuts.

Campaigners in Norfolk defending public services condemned the plans as a ‘blitz on ordinary people’ and on Saturday held at public rally in Norwich city centre to spell out an ‘alternative budget’ of demands.

Scores of people descended on Hay Hill to have their voice heard.

Dee Leybourne-Edwards, from Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts, a campaign group which organised the protest, said: “We believe there are alternatives and we are here today to put forward those alternatives.

“The spending cuts are going to affect every household across Norfolk in some way, shape or form. When we get more details, we will find out where these cuts will really bite. The coalition wants to stop the cuts if they can.”

As part of the protest, campaigners displayed on placards key alternative policies which would raise or save the government billions of pounds.

These included nuclear disarmament and a crackdown on tax evasion. There were also speakers from community groups, service users, youth and pensioner organisations and unions, including Unison.

Ms Leybourne-Edwards added: “The turn out has been really encouraging and public support is increasing. We’ve been encouraged by the turn out today.”

The Norfolk campaign was launched at a public meeting in Norwich, and is backed by former MP Ian Gibson. It is already active in Norwich, Kings Lynn Sheringham and Great Yarmouth.

A public meeting will be held at City Hall, Norwich, on Monday, November 1 at 7pm. It will be chaired by Dr Gibson and speakers include Norwich city councillor Alan Waters and Richard Edwards from Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts.

For more information, go to www.norfolkcoalitionagainstcuts.org

Are you campaigning to save services in the area where you live? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk

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