HUNDREDS of people marched through Huddersfield to protest against public spending cuts.
Around 400 people braved miserable weather to take part in the demonstration – the biggest the town has seen since the loss of maternity services at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary five years ago.
They were protesting against government cuts which protesters say will threaten thousands of public sector jobs and devastate essential services.
The march was called by Huddersfield TUC, Kirklees Unison, Huddersfield Health Unison, Save Our Services and Save Our NHS Campaign.
Campaigners gathered in St George’s Square before marching through the town centre to a rally on the Piazza.
Colourful banners were held aloft as their chants stopped shoppers and workers in their tracks.
Unison members from other parts of the country came to show their support.
Dozens of youngsters were also there to show how they too were concerned about the cuts.
They included Greenhead College students and members of Paddock Youth Centre worried about the Government’s plans to axe youth centres.
The coalition government is making spending cuts to try and reduce its £155bn public deficit.
Kirklees Council is in the middle of a budget reduction programme which will see its non-school workforce fall from 11,200 to 9,700.
Officials say the cuts are necessary to deal with the public spending squeeze.
But hospital campaigner Jackie Grunsell said that the cuts will have a devastating effect on the community reliant on those services affected.
She said: “With at least 25% of cuts being imposed across the board these will be the biggest cuts we’ve seen since the 1930s and potentially plunge this country back into the recession.
“It’s disgusting that a Labour council is trying to do the dirty work for this government and not fighting for the people of our town.”
Peter Allenson, Unite National Local Government officer, described the spending cuts as an attack that people need to fight against.
He said: “This is an unprecedented attack on public service workers, local people and communities.
“We want to see economic growth, but there are alternatives like the suggested Robin Hood tax on financial transactions.
“But these cuts will affect everyone from health workers, social workers, education, police and criminal justice and the pressure on the remaining workers will be too much.
“The fact that in Kirklees there are going to be over 1,000 redundancies and new schools will not be built is an absolute disgrace.”
Leonie Sharp, Unison Regional Organiser, said thousands of ordinary and vulnerable families would be devastated by the mistakes of politicians.
She said: “We are not prepared to be scapegoats and will fight these attacks at every turn.”
Paul Holmes, Kirklees Unison branch secretary, said: “We’ve marched through St George’s Square which the council said it’s own workforce was not good enough to change.
“They gave £4m to a private company which went bankrupt halfway through and then the council’s own labour force had to finish it.
“The country should be run for the majority and not the minority.
“The cuts have not happened yet, but when they do Kirklees will be amongst the first to experience it and what happens here will have an impact on the rest of the country.
“The turnout was brilliant – the biggest I can remember since the maternity services march – and this shows how much of an effect the cuts will have.
“I think people are beginning to realise the real cost of losing these services.
“Things like the fact that the council’s plans to cut highways maintenance staff by 10%.
This means they won’t be able to cope with road repairs and potholes and will really struggle if we have another winter like the last one.”