Andrew Collingwood reports: Around 200 members of the public including trade unionists, students, members of several political parties and public sector workers attended a march and rally on Saturday 23rd October, against the cuts that were announced as part of the comprehensive spending review earlier in the week. The rally was one of many local demo’s held across the UK.
The rally was chaired by Chris Fuller, from York Stop The Cuts – Right To Work and started with James Cussens, secretary of the York University lecturers union covering the Browne Review announcement, and Pete Goddard from the PCS Civil Servants union talking about local civil service cuts. Leigh Wilks, secretary of York Socialist Party finished up the pre-rally speeches, and the crowd moved into the roadway.
A lively march then went through the streets of York, to the Mansion House and Guildhall in St Helen’s Square, and then up to York Minster and ending up in Parliament Street for the concluding part of the rally. The march was greeted by cheering and applause on several streets – and utter surprise from some shoppers. The mood was loud but peaceful.
Opening the second part of the rally, Tim Ngwena (President of York University Students’ Union) on the University cuts and fee rises, followed by Cllr Dave Taylor (Green Party councillor). Group member Jen Clayton spoke on just how vital the NHS is for Britain, recounting tales of the times the NHS has saved her life, and Sophie Shaw spoke for the SWP. Father Tim Jones (Parish priest of St Lawrence and St Hilda) gave one of the most awaited speeches of the rally, exploding the myth that we’re all in this together, and calling on the church to oppose the mounting injustices being pushed on the poorest in society.
March Chief Steward Graham Martin read out a message from Ben Drake (Secretary of York Unison), and was followed by MP for York Central Hugh Bayley. The final speaker represented York Fire Brigades Union, who’s campaign to save the central York fire station we backed during their demonstration on Wednesday lunchtime. The crowd was big enough that the sound system proved inadequate and over £175 was collected towards the cost of the rally and the future of the campaign.