Cuts Protesters Arrested
Police have made three arrests after protesters disrupted a Council meeting on budget cuts.
Three people were arrested during protests outside a council meeting this morning.
The arrests were made in the public gallery of Shire Hall for breach of the peace as Councillors discussed the distribution of cuts in Cambridgeshire.
None of those arrested have yet been named, but a Cambridgeshire police spokesman confirmed: “we did arrest two people, a man and a woman, for breach of the peace. Both were subsequently de-arrested.” It is understood a third person was arrested later.
The protestors included students, local public sector workers and even some pensioners.
Organised by Cambridgeshire Against the Cuts, the demonstration began outside County Council HQ this morning. Protesters blockaded the entrance and picketed council workers, using a similar strategy to that used by students last term.
Armed with placards reading “Resign Before You Sign,” the demonstrators included a sizable number of students, including members of CamDefendEd.
But council members managed to break through the blockade, and once the meeting started, police had to be brought into the public gallery to control hecklers. Many chanted “Judas” as the meeting commenced. One protester was ejected for shouting: “you have another alternative. Put your constituents first, resign before you sign a disastrous budget.”
Tom Hanney, a PhD student at Pembroke College who attended the protest, said: “We are continuing to fight after seeing the devastating attack on university research and teaching, because these public sector cuts are all part of the same regressive agenda.”
Shire Hall: where the action happened
When the police attempted to control the hecklers, one had their helmet removed and thrown from the balcony. It is understood that this led to the first arrest.
Clare fresher David Wilson told The Tab: “It’s nice to see that some students have the time to stand up for these issues.”
The atmosphere was tense as Councillors discussed how to pass the Government’s budget cuts on to the people of Cambridgeshire.
Leader of the Labour group, Councillor Tariq Sadiq, was heavily critical of plans, saying: “This budget is built on a shaky edifice. Apparently, there is a vast army of volunteers out there with time on their hands who are just straining to fill the gaping chasm that will open up as we, the council, withdraw from delivering public services.”
Council leader Jill Tuck defended plans to slash 450 jobs, telling the meeting: “I can assure you that we have very seriously considered the impact these decisions will make on our communities and the effects in future years if we did not act decisively in this planning period. We have not left things to chance.”
Despite passions running high in a meeting that lasted an incredible eight and a half hours, the council approved plans to cut £50 million in 2011/12 and save up to £160 million over the next five years.