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Opinion: Preston and the anti-cuts brigade

Posted on - 16th January, 2011 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Campaigns, Opinion, People

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Early last Saturday afternoon, a disparate group of Preston residents gathered on the flag market for an anti-cuts rally. It was a grey, drizzly, and windy day. Some attendees had brought young children in pushchairs. Other attendees were students who had just rolled out of bed. However, all attendees were united in concern over the coalition government’s drastic public service cuts, and how this would affect the local community.

Students’ Union representatives from the University of Central Lancashire and trade union leaders alike commandeered the megaphone, all detailing how and why public service cuts would hurt them. County councillors from different political parties spoke with passion about how the cuts will hit them, and why.

There’s no doubt that these cuts will hurt some of the poorest in society, but this isn’t a question of the oppression Olympics. Whilst some will be hit harder than others, we are united in distaste of the blatant hypocrisy of those who assure us we’re all in it together. Some of the very same ministers planning and implementing these cuts don’t use the same national health service or send their children to the same state schools as the rest of us have to. If you’ve been following the anti-cuts movement, it’s an argument you will have heard time and time again- whilst those of us who did not cause this crisis are bearing the brunt of these cuts, those who caused it remain largely untouched.

The future is looking very bleak for those who rely on central government funding. As it stands, the local university is set to lose 80% of its teaching budget. Lancashire county council is due to lose 70% of its funding to frontline services, and County Hall has reserved £10 million of its funding for redundancy costs alone.

While this movement is often smeared with cries of jealousy looking in from the outside, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Large corporations continue to avoid tax- Vodafone escaped with £6 billion free of government intervention. The word ‘fair’ has been tainted with doublethink tendencies thanks to the like of Cameron and Clegg, but this really is a case of the poor paying more.

The last speaker on Saturday’s rally wasn’t scheduled to speak- the session had become open mic, and as he took the megaphone, he spoke from the heart. He said he worked with vulnerable young people, and had been made redundant on Christmas Eve.

He said his contract looked set to run out in March, and, whilst this was an inconvenience for him, his real worries lay with the path of the young people he works with. He just doesn’t know what will happen to them once they lose the extra support that they so desperately need.

This is the crux of the anti-cuts movement- not jealousy, or greed. The common goal is often a last ditch attempt to keep the public services that bind our community together. 50 like-minded people gathered on the flag market yesterday, and we’re hoping to build a movement big enough to have Preston residents marching through the city centre on February 12th.

Image credit to Bernie Blackburn.

Did you attend the protest on the Flag Market? Will you be attending in February? What do you think about the cuts? Let us know in the comments below

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