Police deal with cuts protesters

TOWN hall staff were attacked by protesters, according to councillors, who voted to cut £31m from next year’s budget.

Around 100 protesters demonstrated outside Huddersfield Town Hall, before making their way inside in time for the full council debate.

But security staff blocked the door from the reception into the rest of the building, as protesters tried to force their way through.

Police were called and protesters were eventually able to watch the debate on a screen in a separate room, as the public gallery was full.

Towards the end of the meeting, council leader Coun Mehboob Khan said that four members of staff had been attacked, including a woman who was punched in the face.

Coun Khan recognised the right to protest, but described the scenes inside the town hall reception as ‘anarchy’. He said: “In an open democracy that type of behaviour is condemned by all of us.”

The protest was organised by a group called Save Our Services.

Ian Brooke, from the group, said that he did not see anyone being attacked, although he was not part of the group in the viewing room.

He said: “It doesn’t cast us in a good light and we are distinctly not for violent protest.”

He acknowledged there was pushing and shoving in the reception.

Mr Brooke said: “People wanted to go into the overspill room. People wanted to make their points, preferably in the council chamber.”

After the meeting, Kirklees Council chief executive Adrian Lythgo said the disruption in the foyer was ‘regrettable’.

He said: “It is understandable that feelings were running high, given the scale of decisions being taken by council at the meeting.

“However, while people have the right to peaceful protest, this does not extend to intimidating staff and using violence, and should not block the democratic process.

“We made arrangements for protesters to be able to follow the meeting, some in limited space in the public gallery, others in a side room.”

Councillors said the budget was the ‘least worst option’.