Spending cuts spark protest

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A PROTEST rally against massive government cuts likely to affect hundreds of jobs and services in the Lancaster district was held in Dalton Square on Wednesday.

The rally, organised by campaign group Lancaster and Morecambe Against The Cuts, was attended by Lancaster and Morecambe Trades Union Council, local representatives of the National Union of Teachers, students and public sector workers angry at the government’s plans to cut services and lose nearly half a million jobs in a bid to plug the spending deficit.

Coun Andrew Kay, the campaign’s organiser said: “We believe there’s an alternative way to cut this deficit, whilst protecting the most vulnerable and the most needy.” The Comprehensive Spending Review, announced on Wednesday by Chancellor George Osbourne, laid out the government’s plans to save £83billion from its budgets, in what amounts to the deepest cuts to spending by a government since World War Two.

Coun Kay said that he was worried about many of the district’s vital services being hit by the cuts, including community centres, PCSOs, adult education, social housing, grassroots and arts organisations, and also the knock-on effect on the private sector.

Jenny Martin, UNISON area
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 organiser for Lancashire and Cumbria, said: “The government are quite clear that there is no alternative solution, and yet on the other hand the Chief Executive of Mothercare is bringing in £6billion. How is that fair?

“UNISON says there absolutely is an alternative and the cuts are unnecessary and unfair at this time.”

Paul Ireland, project co-ordinator at the Ridge Community Centre in Patterdale Road, said: “We’re all expecting cuts.

“All frontline services are going to be affected and I’m sure there’s more to come.

“We are concerned but we hope to have a clearer idea next month.”

Coun Stuart Langhorn, Lancaster City Council leader, said the council will be carefully studying the announcements made in the Comprehensive Spending Review to determine their impact on services provided directly by the council and those that it helps to fund.

“It is no secret that the whole of the public sector faces a series of enormous challenges and local authorities are coming under increasing pressure to reduce services and focus on the services that people most need,” he said.

“In the same way as we did last year, the council has launched a budget consultation and suggestion scheme for people to get involved and have their say.”

A meeting of council funded organisations and other interested parties was due to be held at the town hall on Wednesday evening.

The city council’s budget questionnaire is available online at www.lancaster.gov.uk/consultation and hard copies will be distributed in October via Your District Council Matters.