Parents out in force in Newcastle City Council cuts protest

Battling parents were on song yesterday in their fight against cuts which could see vital services for their kids cut.

A group of around 30 mums, dads and their children braved the chilly weather to take part in a street theatre event at the Centre for Life and later Central Station in Newcastle city centre.

For it, they also re-worked a few well known Christmas tunes to highlight their cause.

These included ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ which detailed what they saw as the effect on services of proposed city council cuts.

Lines included ‘On the first day of Christmas the council took from me, a future for my family’.

Meanwhile Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ and ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ by Shakin’ Stevens also got the treatment.

It was the latest in a series of high profile events by The Parents against Cuts group which have resulted in at times heated clashes with city council leader Nick Forbes. Some wore Nick Forbes face masks for the event yesterday.

Last week the council announced proposals to cut its budget by £40m in response, it says, to Central Government austerity measures.

The PAC group was set up when plans to reduce the number of Sure Start Centres, which provide early educational and play facilities for pre-school children from the poorest backgrounds to save around £4.7m as part of these measures, were first made public.

Shannon Sherman, who helped organise the event, said:

“We’re still waiting to hear which Sure Start centres are to go.

“We were told it was to be this month, now the council is saying it’s in January.

“Christmas is a busy time for parents but we’ve got a good turn out.

“We have another planning meeting next week to decide what to do next.”

Those attending the event laughed off a suggestion made by Mr Forbes last week of a link between PAC and the Revolutionary Communist Group.

In an interview the council leader said:

“The Revolutionary Communist Party website clearly claims responsibility for a number of actions that Parents Against Cuts is taking.”

Vanessa Cutter of PAC denied the link. She said:

“I think it shows the council leader had been rattled by our protests.”

Source –  Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 20 Dec 2014

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