David Manasse of the Newcastle Free Press reports:
Around two thousand people gathered in Newcastle on Saturday to oppose government austerity measures and council cuts, in one of the largest street demonstrations in Newcastle since the student demonstrations of 2010. The march was called by a wide coalition of local activist groups from across the progressive spectrum. They united a variety of causes, ranging from local groups calling for the protection of Newcastle’s libraries, youth projects, swimming pools and arts centres, to wider campaigns around defending the NHS, social welfare and disability rights.
Earlier in the day a feeder march left from Murray House Youth Centre on Diane Street in Arthur’s Hill. The feeder march was of around fifty people strong, mostly consisting of under-12s and their youth workers from around Newcastle’s West End. The impassioned chanting of this group, accompanied by the drumming and whistles of local percussion players, created a wonderful atmosphere, prompting one activist to declare it “the cutest march I’ve ever seen”.
Their demands included the continuation of their youth projects, such as the New Mill ‘Night Reach’ project, which are due to lose 100% of their funding through the council cuts, as well as to save West End services such as Murray House and Mooreside Library. Another feeder march, called by Newcastle Free Education Network against the coalition’s Education Reforms, left from Northumbria University.
The feeders joined the main group at the assembly point at Newcastle’s Times Square.
Carry on reading at Sending-out-an-SOS
Coalition of Resistance video – a bit giddy,but uplifting!
Further coverage in the local Chronicle at Residents March in Protest
Word from Anne Marron on the ground.
The next SOS organising meeting will be held this Thursday (21st) evening at 7pm in St John’s church hall, Grainger street. The meeting is open to anyone interested in helping us fight the cuts to services. It was an inspiring march last Saturday, and should give us hope that it is possible to fight and to win, but there is still a long road ahead and we need to remain well organised if we are to challenge the unfair cuts to services being pushed through by the Labour council. In particular, the play and youth services are still proposed to be cut entirely, as are several swimming pools and community libraries. Save Our Services would welcome your input and help with the campaign. It doesn’t matter whether you have any experience in campaigning, we all need to learn as we go along. No cuts for kids! No cuts at all!
Elswick swimming pool is a much-loved community resource, used by all sections of the local community, including primary schools, women only sessions and Sure-start groups. The swimming pool and park were recently refurbished to make them more accessible to the community but now the council is proposing to sell-off the pool or close it altogether.
Save Our Services is holding a SWIM-IN this Saturday 23rd February from 1-3pm which aims to draw attention to the potential loss of the pool and launch a campaign to prevent its closure. We need your support, please try and get along (support is needed both in the water and outside).
There will be a planning meeting to organise the event this Thursday 21st Feb at 9.30am (early I know) at Elswick swimming pool in a meeting room upstairs next to the Impulse Fitness Gym. We will be discussing the press release and creative ideas for the day.
Please feel free to bring your kids along, or if you are a young person, you are welcome to get involved.
Looking further ahead Stop the Cuts, Save Our Services, the coalition who planned Saturday’s march, will be holding a public meeting entitled “What next?” between 1 and 5pm on Saturday the 2nd of March at St. John’s Church Hall on Grainger Street, Newcastle, in order to plan future events and actions.