The Mancunion

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Burnham joins torchlit demonstration in Manchester

Mancunians braved Storm Doris in a torchlight protest against government cuts that threaten the lives of Manchester’s most vulnerable groups

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Protestors met in Castlefield Arena on Saturday February 25th at 5pm and walked to rally at Albert Square. The aim of this protest was to send a message to Downing Street that the continuing budget cuts are leaving city councils, such as Manchester, unable to care for the most vulnerable people in the city.

The group ‘Fair Deal 4 Manchester’, who organised the torchlight protest, stated on their Facebook page that Theresa May’s “heartless government” have gone too far with these drastic cuts. They believe “older people, those needing support mental health, disabilities and learning difficulties, and those affected by homelessness [sic]” will be the most affected.

Joining the demonstration was Labour’s candidate for the next mayoral election, Andy Burnham. Burnham stated these cuts serve to neglect the needs of young people, elderly and the homeless, claiming they have “suffered enough”. Both Labour and trade unions supported the protest in an attempt to protect public sector services before the announcement of the spring Budget.

The protesters, who donned raincoats and umbrellas, lit torches to further stress their point and garner attention that government cuts are becoming increasingly damaging to Manchester council’s ability to adequately care for their people.

This year local council cuts across the region will reach £160bn. Since 2010 nearly £2 billion has been removed from the council budget. Taxpayers, who are already expected to pay an extra 1p from April, will now carry a greater burden as councils attempt to fill the vacuum made by government cuts. To maintain services, an extra 3 per cent is expected to be added on top of the original council tax increase.

Councillor Pat Karney, who helped organise the protest, stated his pride for those who attended and added that residents of Manchester were being forced to fill the void left by cuts. Karney said the continual rationing and cutting of services cannot continue if councils are expected to maintain the basic minimum in social welfare and NHS services.

‘Fair Deal 4 Manchester’ have set up a petition calling on Theresa May’s government to fully fund social care and schools in Manchester.

You can find the link for the petition here: www.manchesterpetition.com