PROTESTERS gathered in Sunderland city centre to call a halt to sweeping UK-wide Government cuts.
Members of Sunderland Against the Cuts donned Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron masks, waved banners and dished out leaflets to shoppers in Market Square.
The pressure group said cost-cutting measures announced last week by the city council will make Sunderland one of the five worst-hit cities in the country.
Organiser Gary Duncan, 40, said that Sunderland Against the Cuts was not a political party, but simply wanted to call a halt to the Government’s current economic plans.
“We are a collection of people who want to come together and fight the cuts.
“We formed just after the Tories got in and we realised that there needed to be a movement and a fight back against the cuts.
“The council has to cut £59million over two years, which is going to mean cuts to services, which will have an effect on older people and disabled people.
“We say tax the corporations and the bankers’ bonuses and collect the £120billion in tax that goes missing every year from the rich end of society, before we tax the poor end of society.”
At a budget meeting, Sunderland councillors rubber-stamped a council tax freeze and rowed over what were called “the worst cuts since the Second World War”.
Council bosses have had to make £58million of savings, but council leader Paul Watson said the authority would still be investing £745million across the city on key services and priorities.
Law student Louis Cummins, 19, said he has turned his back on a career in the legal profession after joining the cuts campaign group.
“It is going to make university a really elitist thing and stopping working class people getting a higher education.”
Software engineer Norman Hall, 55, travelled from Gateshead to support the demo. The Socialist Party member is also helping to recreate the famous Jarrow March to London, which will see about 40 17 to 25-year-olds step out on October 1 in protest over unemployment.
To get involved, call Paul Phillips, regional co-ordinator of the Youth Fight for Jobs, on 07989 806104.
Sunderland Against the Cuts has also organised a public meeting on Thursday in committee room two in Sunderland Civic Centre, where guests can hear speakers from 7pm, including Tristan Learoyd, the city university lecturer who quit his job in protest against spending cuts.
For more information, see www.sunderlandagainstthecuts.co.uk