The people of Liverpool came out in their thousands on Sunday, throwing their weight behind council party chiefs in a united protest against the massive cuts being imposed on the city by the Government.

 

Crowds marched from the Anglican Cathedral in a peaceful but vocal protest against £141million cuts to the council's budget over the next two years.

 

Demonstrators gathered at St George's Hall, where they

were addressed by Council Leader Joe Anderson,

opposition Liberal Democrat leader Warren Bradley and

the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Cllr Hazel Williams. Party

political differences have been put aside to help tackle

the city's budget crisis.

 

Leaders have been in cross-party talks since January in

an unprecedented move to fight the 22% cut in the city’s

£400million budget.

 

Cllr Anderson made a passionate speech at St George's

Hall, telling the huge crowd: "Let’s be absolutely clear, we

will not lie down and accept the cuts... we will fight the cuts

every step of the way. There will be no return to making

this city bankrupt and a laughing stock."

 

Speaking exclusively to JMU Journalism after his speech, Cllr Anderson said: "If I am being totally honest I think the Government  will look at it but whether they take notice, I doubt. I don’t want to get people's hopes up. The northern cities are being hit worse.

 

"I think that is the Government’s ideological attack on public services. Liverpool relies on public services and they are attacking that. Because we have the most public services we end up with losing the most."

 

Cllr Warren Bradley was heckled by some angry demonstrators as he addressed the gathering.

 

He said: “It would be easy for me today to hide under a stone and

pretend it’s not my problem but as somebody who is a born and

bred Liverpudlian, and somebody who has worked in the heart of

some of the most deprived areas in the city, it was right and

proper that I came and faced up to what the Coalition Government

is doing today.”

 

One of those taking part in the march was city resident Frank

Peeney. He said: "Liverpool will never go under, they will always

fight back. The streets of Liverpool are going to filled in the future

with protests, for example student protests.”

 

Zilian Lioo said of her community: "This is the first time the

Chinese of Liverpool have come out to protest. They are cutting

Liverpool too much, we should be equal to everybody else. It is

not fair to the Liverpool people. We have come to show our

support for this protest.”

 

A new city budget revealed leisure centres, libraries and services for the elderly and children will be affected in a bid to save £91million this year. Earlier this month, council workers were told 1,500 jobs will be lost to contribute to that saving, with a further £50million to be saved in 2012/13.

 

The financial losses of Liverpool City Council have been under scrutiny recently. A Freedom of Information request about the BT communications contract revealed they have allegedly overcharged the council £10million a year.

 

A BBC investigation discovered that Liverpool is owed £12.4million in Council Tax – the third highest city in the country.

 

Liverpool has had much economic success over the past decade, including the European Capital of Culture year in 2008.

 

It has gone some way to restore Liverpool's reputation in the rest of the United Kingdom and abroad, but the city has a history of social problems. The 1980s, under Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Government, are seen as the city’s lowest point, with huge unemployment and the Toxteth riots of 1981.

 

Evoking that period in his speech, Cllr Anderson promised that there will be no going back to the 80s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thousands march over city budget cuts

 Words by Helen Dodd & Chris Bradley  

 JMU Journalism TV: Joseph Smith, Dan Taylor, Valentin Vinokurov & Beth Hockey

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Comparisons with the Margaret Thatcher years were evoked as thousands marched through town

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