Demo hits crucial Leeds City Council cuts meeting UPDATED

Student protesters occupy the council chamber at Leeds Civic Hall. PIC: Simon Hulme

Student protesters occupy the council chamber at Leeds Civic Hall. PIC: Simon Hulme

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DEMONSTRATORS against spending cuts delayed the start of Leeds City Council’s annual budget meeting by storming the Civic Hall council chamber.

Students and other anti-cuts campaigners had gathered outside to protest against the proposed 2011/12 budget.

In the event the budget, which included job losses, spending cuts and service reductions drawn up to save £90 million, was approved, albeit much later than expected.

The occupation began about 30 minutes before the meeting’s scheduled 1.30pm start.

About 50 protestors stormed into the council chamber and refused to leave.

Amid chaotic scenes not seen since the poll tax demonstrations of 20 years ago, the council’s chief executive, Mr Tom Riordan, made an announcement asking the demonstrators to leave.

He said the council wanted to hold the meeting in public so all sides of the financial position facing the council could be heard and asked people to go upstairs into the public gallery.

His request was greeted with chants of “No budget, no cuts.”

At 1.40pm Mr Riordan announced that the meeting would not take place.

One of the protesters, Ged Colgan, told the YEP: “We think the council should set a deficit budget like Liverpool did in the 1980s. Instead they are implementing Tory cuts that will harm many people.”

About 90 minutes after occupying the chamber, the final protestors left and shortly after the council meeting began in a different room.

The budget was set following a cut to the council’s government grant.

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