Pickles dodges protest picket in Cambridge

PROTESTERS voiced their anger at cabinet minister Eric Pickles when he came to speak in Cambridge.

More than 60 anti-cuts protesters gathered outside the Cambridge Union building last night (May 24) - where Mr Pickles was due to speak - waiting for his arrival only for him to sneak in through a side door.

The group then did their best to alert the Communities and Local Government Secretary to their presence by surrounding the union building chanting and banging drums.

Later several members managed to storm the debate chamber before being ushered out by security.

The protesters labelled Mr Pickles an “evil monster” for his part in the Government’s cuts programme. One held a fake pig’s head on a stick with a sign underneath stating “some are more equal than others” - a reference to the totalitarian state in George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

They chanted: “Whose schools? Our Schools. Whose fire service? Our fire service. Whose health service? Our health service.”

Tom Woodcock, of Cambridgeshire Against The Cuts, said Cambrige’s schools, fire service, and buses were under threat.

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“We are losing fire cover, we are losing schools, we are losing vital services,” he said. “There have been 100 per cent cuts to bus subsidies.”

“We want to put the heat on Pickles for just one hour so he can feel a little bit of pressure - what people might feel when their services are being cut.”

“We want to make it absolutely clear, he is the communities minister and we are the community.”

Despite rumours the cabinet minister was going to walk through the front door of the union and face the protesters, he slipped in unnoticed around the side.

The union, which invited Mr Pickles to speak on his life in politics, had put security on the door for the occasion.

Albert Beardow, the speakers officer for the union, said; “Obviously the Cambridge Union stands for free speech and free debate so clearly Mr Pickles deserves to debate.

“As for the protest, there is a right to protest. As long as they do not disrupt the event they can be tolerated.”

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