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Bristolians get ready for mass protest against austerity

Thousands of people are expected to show up at this Saturday’s protest


Thousands of people are expected to show up at this Saturday’s protest

Photo: Chris Instinct

Saturday’s anti-austerity demonstration will start at 12 o’clock on College Green before moving down to the bottom of Park Street and passing in front of the Bristol Hippodrome on St Augustine’s Parade.

The demonstration has been called by mayor Marvin Rees and is being backed by the Bristol Labour Party, Green party and over 30 organisations, including trade unions and community groups (Full list below).

“What I’m concerned about as a city leader is the cost of the cuts,” said Marvin Rees. “These short-term savings will undermine our communities and population health and will ultimately cost us more in the medium- to long-term. It’s crucial we take this case to government.”

The protest has not attracted support from all parties in council. Bristol’s Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have called it a “distraction” from the cuts Mr Rees is implementing and planning across the city.

The rally comes three days ahead of a coalition of ten major regional UK cities known as the Core Cities delivering a green paper to parliament calling for investment in cities. Campaigners from organisations such as the People’s Assembly have said that the march will help bolster Marvin’s political clout in the capital, saying: “This could make a really big splash ahead of the Mayor’s Westminster trip.”

Although the Green Party support the rally, Eleanor Combley, Green councillor for Bishopston and Ashley Down recently wrote that “there appears to be no real anti-austerity message in this Core Cities approach to central government.”

The march will include big ‘blocs’ for Health and Social Care, Schools, Libraries, Disabled people’s bloc, Workers & Trades Unions, Community Arts, Welfare not Warfare, ACORN, Labour Party and Green Party. A St Pauls Community Bloc is also expected, organised by the Malcolm X Community Centre.

A Bristol People’s Assembly spokesperson said: “We want people involved in this march and rally from every corner of Bristol – every community group, social club, creative organisation – every faith, every age, every cultural background. And this is our experience of what we’re seeing given the response to the demonstration and the range of groups involved.”

DPAC Bristol & Southwest (Disabled People Against Cuts) organiser Karen Passmore said: “We are supporting the Bristol March and Rally – End Austerity – Fund our Cities on Sept 9th. Severely disabled people have faced benefit cuts of up to 9 times more than any other group … DPAC demands Rights for disabled people, Not charity!”

Meanwhile, Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts campaigner Paulette North has said: “Cuts impact on everyone but their consequences are most severe for the disadvantaged sections of our community. Black people look to the council to provide decent services for all. The failure to do this can only make our society more divided. BARAC says stop the cuts.”

The march has even been endorsed by Jeremy Corbyn, with the Labour leader posting this video in support.

Can’t see video? Watch here

The speaker list for after the march:

  • Miles Chambers – Bristol Poet Laureate
  • Marvin Rees – Mayor of Bristol
  • Anjali Gohil – Bristol barrister
  • Joanne Kaye – Vice Chair of South West TUC
  • Kevin Courtney – Joint General Secretary, National Education Union
  • Lauren Gavaghan – Bristol-based doctor and leading NHS campaigner
  • John Rees – People’s Assembly national spokesperson
  • Amirah Cole – Malcolm X Community Centre
  • Owen Jones – journalist and campaigner
  • Mayor’s final words: “Sept 12 and beyond”
  • Musical performance

The 30 supporting organisations for the March and Rally

  • Bristol People’s Assembly
  • Bristol Labour Party
  • Bristol Green Party
  • Bristol Disability Equality Forum
  • Malcolm X Community Centre
  • Bristol Somali Forum
  • Fair Funding For All Schools Bristol
  • ACORN Bristol
  • Protect our NHS
  • DPAC Bristol & Southwest (Disabled People Against the Cuts)
  • Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts (BARAC) Bristol
  • Bakers, Food & Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) SW region
  • Unison South West (union)
  • Unite the Union South West
  • GMB Union Wales & South West
  • National Union of Teachers Bristol
  • Communication Workers Union Bristol & amalgamated branch
  • National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers
  • Bristol
  • University and College Union
  • Bristol uni branch
  • Public and Commercial Services Union South West
  • National Association of Headteachers Bristol
  • Union for Shop, Distributive & Allied Workers Bristol branch (USDAW)
  • South West Trades Union Congress
  • Stand up to Racism Bristol
  • Love Bristol Libraries
  • Momentum Bristol
  • People’s Republic of Stokes Croft (PRSC)
  • The Ambling Band
  • Tribe of Doris
  • Red Notes Choir
  • BCfm Radio
  • Bristol Refugee Rights

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