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Posted on 9 September 2010 at 15:32 GMT

Protest against Bolton council's cuts

Bolton protest at council meeting against plans to savagely cut 40% off its budget, , photo Hugh Caffrey

Bolton protest at council meeting against plans to savagely cut 40% off its budget, , photo Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

On the 1st of September in Bolton there was a huge protest against Bolton council's plans to savagely cut 40% off its budget. It is expected these cuts will cost 1,400 jobs, not to mention the effects on services.

Kieran Grogan, Bolton Metro Unison young member officer (personal capacity) and South Lancashire Socialist Party

The cuts will include the closure of day centres for elderly and disabled people and put other services out to tender including residential care for older people and supported living schemes for adults with learning disabilities.

All of this by a Labour-led council and to previously protected areas. Bolton's Trades Union Council lead by representatives from UNISON and including UNITE, GMB and UCATT plus community groups and members of the public all lobbied together, under the banner 'coalition against cuts'.

Bolton protest at council meeting against plans to savagely cut 40% off its budget, , photo Hugh Caffrey

Bolton protest at council meeting against plans to savagely cut 40% off its budget, , photo Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

Hundreds of united people all congregated outside the north and south entrance of the town hall.

This welcoming party waited for the councillors to attend the council meeting that night. Each councillor was being paid 936 to attend and pass off 40% worth of cuts to frontline services. They were greeted with well deserved boos and 'shame on you' chants, one by one. For once, unsurprisingly, they were not enthusiastic about giving us the privilege of their hot air and 'there's no other option' sentences.

The strong turnout from South Lancs Socialist Party and disgruntled service users and family members replied to them with: "What about Liverpool 83-87? Do what the socialist council did there!"

For something that was meant to be open to the public, the council meeting was shabbily handled. We were all held up in air lock type 'containment' rooms and made to wait to enter a meeting we were paying extortionately for.

Maybe they were discussing giving themselves another 25% pay rise, again! All in it together eh?

Once we were in the gallery above the meeting, 40 at a time for 10 minutes only, the councillors of Bolton decided to 'prioritise' the discussions.

Bolton protest at council meeting against plans to savagely cut 40% off its budget, , photo Hugh Caffrey

Bolton protest at council meeting against plans to savagely cut 40% off its budget, , photo Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

Firstly they decided to congratulate each other on the A level and GCSE results. Well done guys! Now where do we send them? Oh that's right, there aren't enough college and university places due to more cuts!

Then the discussions moved on to how to make bus lanes more attractive (with you lot laying down in them, sprung to mind!).

At this point the gallery above the meeting grew restless and after one outburst, the whole group was whisked out and another was thrown in.

This was a well-attended and well-planned demo and must be a starting point now on how to combat these savage and unfair cuts.

All this through campaigning by trade unionists, leafleting, word of mouth and a Facebook campaign ("Bolton family against cuts and privatisation").

Bolton protest at council meeting against plans to savagely cut 40% off its budget, , photo Hugh Caffrey

Bolton protest at council meeting against plans to savagely cut 40% off its budget, , photo Hugh Caffrey   (Click to enlarge)

The discussions on how to combat the cuts have been ever-present at my Unison branch committee, this protest being one tool.

There was a very good response to the NSSN leaflets advertising the lobby of the TUC on 12 September.

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