Protests staged across Norfolk

Protests have been staged across the county today in a 'day of action' with campaigners joining together to fight back against what they claim are 'unnecessary and unfair' government cuts.

The protests are part of a nationwide event, called by the Trade Union Congress, who have asked communities throughout the UK to organise street stalls, rallies and other similar events.

In Norfolk, the call was taken up by the Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts Group, who organised protests in Kings Lynn, Cromer, Dereham and Norwich.

Trevor Phillips, a spokesperson for Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts Group, was with protestors outside Topshop in Hay Hill, Norwich.

He said: 'Today has been chosen as a day to focus on the way in which many big business and super rich individuals avoid paying taxes to the UK treasury. The taxes are important of course because they pay for services we need. If these taxes were collected properly there would be no need for the cuts Norfolk County Council is planning.'

Alison Birmingham, Steward for UNISON Norfolk County, also with the Norwich protestors, added: 'It's important to send a message to the great and the good that we are not going to take their proposed cuts and that there is resistance to them and we believe there are other ways for them to make cuts.'

Pat Yarker, an activist for the Norfolk Coalition Against The Cuts, was among the campaigners collecting names on a petition in Dereham's Nelson Place precinct on Saturday morning and said they had a 'very positive' response.

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'Lots of people are very angry and are stopping to take leaflets and sign the petition and are talking about how the cuts will affect them.'

He said there were a wide variety of issues being raised.

'People are worried about benefits, pensions, their childrens' education, the education maintenance allowance and unemployment.'

Mr Yarker said local councils were being 'starved' of funding by national government and he said industrial action was the 'only way' to get the message across to the coalition.

Chairman of the Norfolk Coalition Against the Cuts Jo Rust, a development worker for children's services at Norfolk County Council, manned a stall in King's Lynn High Street on Saturday.

She said: 'I've been doing these protests for some time now and at first people didn't really seem to know what we were talking about but now there is a lot more interest and many people have been stopping and talking to us and asking questions.

'Before people weren't really feeling the affect of the cuts but now there has been then the rise to 20pc VAT and the increase in fuel duty and more and more people are either at risk of losing their own job or have friends or relatives who are in that situation.

'And we are soon to find out what types of children's services are to be cut. I see young people walking through King's Lynn today and feel that they won't be able to get to school because of cuts to free bus passes, they won't have other youth services available to them other than things like cub and scout groups and many won't be able to afford to go to university.

'Ordinary working people are being made to pay for the mistakes of the greedy billionaires and these savage cuts will effect everybody.'

'I just hope through these demonstrations that we raise awareness amongst the public that there are alternatives to these savage cuts because, at the moment that is all we can do. There will be a time when there is a call for industrial action, but it's not the right time yet.'

Further demonstrations and protests are planned, with a 'Valentines Day Massacre of Public Services' protest at County Hall in Norwich on Monday, February 14 from 8.45am and the TUC National Demonstration in London on Saturday, March 26.