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Posted on 7 March 2011 at 14:34 GMT

Manchester on the march

Over 1,000 marched through Manchester on Saturday 5 March, the biggest anti-cuts turnout in the city so far. Banners from local campaigns mingled with trade union and campaign banners from nearby towns like Salford and Bury.

Paul Gerrard

Manchester City Council hit the headlines a few weeks ago with massive cuts to libraries, swimming pools, Sure Start, advice centres, and 2,000 job losses.

Already, campaigners for Manchester Coalition against the Cuts have been heartened by the reprieve for Levenshulme Baths, a victory even before the cuts budget goes to full council on 9 March.

All the speakers drew the correct lesson - it is worth fighting and we can win. Last week saw a demo for Sure Start centres, and there is a big and active campaign to save Manchester Advice, the free legal advice service offered by the council - with housing benefit and a thousand other cuts this service will be more needed than ever.

Unite union members working for the council are balloting for strike action and Jimmy Thornton, their branch secretary, gave a fighting speech.

Several speakers - from UCU at Manchester Metropolitan University, Bolton NUT, Salford against Cuts - argued for the council to set a deficit budget and fight for what the city needs.

They were greeted with warm applause.

Interestingly, although Labour councillors and MPs, even right-wingers like Gerald Kaufmann, have appeared on anti-cuts platforms before, not a single one spoke at this rally.

The battle lines are being drawn. There will be a lobby of the full council budget meeting on Wednesday 9 March from 8.00 am in Albert Square, Manchester.

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