Protest over cuts to public services and tax benefits

DEMO Protesters in Portsmouth City Centre. ''Picture: J�an Reno/UBIQUE photography
DEMO Protesters in Portsmouth City Centre. ''Picture: J�an Reno/UBIQUE photography
Picture: Malcolm Wells

Five reasons to buy Friday’s News - including The Guide entertainments pullout

Have your say

MORE than 200 protesters marched through the streets of Portsmouth city centre to voice their anger at austerity cuts.

Waving placards and shouting demands for ‘real jobs’, people of all ages weaved their way through shoppers on Saturday.

The rally was organised by action group Portsmouth Against The Cuts Together.

Demonstrators gathered in Guildhall Square and after walking around the city centre they congregated outside the Job Centre in Arundel Street.

There were speeches delivered via megaphone from activists, including members of teaching unions and railway workers’ unions.

Among the issues causing major concerns are cuts to disability living allowance and the controversial ‘bedroom tax’ where families in social housing face cuts to their benefits if they have spare bedrooms. There was also fury over benefit cuts and plans to part-privatise the probation service.

Penny Foskett, a retired teacher from Southsea, was among the protesters.

She said: ‘We are protesting about the way the government is cutting all kinds of benefits to people. They are attacking all kinds of ordinary people at the same time as bankers are continuing to get their bonuses.

‘People see this as so unfair.

‘There’s no growth.

‘Unemployment is not rising, but what about these jobs?

‘They are low-paid, low-skilled jobs. Lot of people with university degrees are having to take jobs for which they are wildly overqualified.’

Steve Broughton, 52, a probation officer for 12 years, from Gosport, said: ‘The probation service will retain 30 per cent of its work and 70 per cent will go out to private tenders.

‘There’s a serious risk to public safety when you are having non-qualified people looking after burglars, robbers and street muggers.’

Jane Warburton, 48, also a probation officer from Portsmouth, said: ‘The people we work with are going to have private firms coming in who are not going to be able to give the right support to people to help them to move on.

‘Eventually it’s going to mean more people in prisons.’