By Steve Sweeney in Britain:
Monday 11th September 2017
Bristol People’s Assembly organised the protest, which was billed as the city’s “biggest ever protest.”
It drew support from across the community, along with campaigning organisations including Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and local NHS activists demonstrating against a merger of local clinical commissioning groups that they warn will lead to services being cut.
Around 10,000 people marched against “Tory austerity” and organisers said it was the first demonstration by a local authority challenging the government over cuts to its budget.
Mr Rees, who led the march, has been criticised for implementing cost-saving measures as Bristol faces budget cuts of £106 million over the next few years.
But he said Prime Minister Theresa May and “Tory austerity” were to blame for slashing central government funding of local authorities by 26 per cent since 2010.
The mayor told the crowds: “When we look at what that means in Bristol, it means that not only impacting on frontline services, which we all know about and see every day, but it also means an impact on what I would call on backroom ability.”
Mr Rees added: “Austerity is disinvestment in a place, disinvestment in British cities. We need investment, because it is cities which have the answer to many of the problems we face now.”
People’s Assembly national officer John Rees told the demonstrators that the Tories have the money to reverse the cuts, recalling that to keep themselves in power, they had found £1 billion for the “knuckle draggers of the DUP.”
“That money could solve the financial crisis in this city, in another city, in a third and a fourth city in this country,” he said.
A major national demonstration will take place at the Tory Party conference in Manchester on October 1.
Bristol is the second richest city per capita in the UK, but also one of the most unequal. It is ranked among the top 10 percent nationally for inequality. The south side of the city is ranked second worst in the country for the number of young people going on to higher education: here.