Hundreds of Richmond protesters to join TUC’s London march against Government cuts

Hundreds of Richmond protesters to join TUC’s London march against Government cuts
6:50am Friday 25th March 2011
By Joanna Kilvington »

A “spring of discontent” has hit Richmond as hundreds of protesters prepare to join the biggest central London march in more than seven years.

More than 250,000 people are expected to take part in tomorrow’s TUC march against Government cuts – the biggest since the 2003 Iraq War protest – among them many disgruntled workers from Richmond.

The past few months has seen the Richmond and Twickenham Times report on an ever-growing list of cuts and closures, leaving residents fearful, frustrated and angry.

Among them are the closures of Tangley and Twickenham day care centres, Richmond’s tourist centre and the Vineyard project that supports the homeless and sufferers of mental health issues.

Meanwhile, further anger has mounted over council cuts to youth services and for the elderly and disabled, and last week arms trade protesters gathered outside Vince Cable’s office calling for the Twickenham MP’s Defence and Security Organisation to be axed.

Activists gathered outside his constituency surgery, in Lion Road, Twickenham, with placards reading: “Vince, don’t sell arms to dictators”.

They targeted the Business Secretary last Friday, as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s troops continued to bombard rebel forces in Libya.

Shirley Mills, regional organiser for Unison, said up to 200 of its Richmond members – including social workers, council staff, teaching assistants, cleaners and caterers – would march in central London tomorrow.

She said: “There is an alternative to the drastic cuts that the coalition Government is making. It’s hurting people in Richmond and elsewhere.”

Paul Grafton, regional organiser for the GMB union, said up to 300 members from its Richmond and Barnes branch would be taking part.

He said: “When you look at the volume of increases and the cost of living [people] can’t keep on going the way they are.”

Also due to attend are a number of lecturers from St Mary’s University College, who held a day-long protest outside the Strawberry Hill university yesterday.

The strike was part of a national protest organised by the University and College Union (UCU) over Government plans to cut up to £852m from the teachers’ pension scheme and raise monthly costs.

Paul Tarpey, chairman of the university’s UCU branch said: “Lecturers are feeling fear, frustration and anger.”

Teachers at Richmond College also joined the protest, the fourth to be held by UCU members in recent months over cost-cutting proposals.

Staff and supporters of disability charity Richmond Aid, which has spoken out about hikes in social care costs for the elderly and disabled, said they would join the march.

Operations manager Alex Brining said: “We are extremely concerned about the cuts, which will disproportionately affect disabled people and the most vulnerable.”

Members of Twickenham Labour Party also plan to join the march, which will set off from Victoria Embankment at about noon tomorrow.

They have joined protests in recent weeks over the council’s decision to close Heathfield library, which shut its doors last Thursday.

Chairman of Twickenham Labour Party, Mark Walker, said: “We believe the coalition Government’s decision to cut public spending is ideological and there is no need to cut at this rate.

“It has affected residents in Twickenham with the closure of Tangley Hall and Heathfield library and we want to show our support for the alternative of investment and support for key local services.”

To find out more about the march visit marchforthealternative.org.uk.

The Metropolitan Police has put together a list of FAQs about the march. Visit www.met.police.uk/tuc/faqs.htm for more information.

• Will you be joining the march? Let us know by email (jkilvington@london.newsquest.co.uk), phone the newsdesk on 020 8744

http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/local/richmondnews/8931644.Hundreds_prepare_to_march_against_cuts/

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