Kirklees Council budget protest turns violent

STOP: Protesters outside Huddersfield Town Hall. (d24021106)
STOP: Protesters outside Huddersfield Town Hall. (d24021106)

VIOLENCE erupted and four town hall workers were attacked during a meeting about council cuts this week.

Councillors met on Wednesday and voted to cut £31m from the Kirklees budget for next year, but the meeting was overshadowed when protests against the cutbacks got out of hand.

Around 100 protesters demonstrated outside Huddersfield Town Hall, before trying to go inside for the full council debate.

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

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

During the meeting, council leader Coun Mehboob Khan left the chamber with chief executive Adrian Lythgo.

When he returned, Coun Khan said that four members of town hall staff had been attacked, including a woman who was punched in the face.

Recognising the right to protest, Coun Khan condemned the scenes inside the town hall reception, describing them as ‘anarchy’.

The protest was led by a group called Save Our Services, which is opposed to cuts to youth and adult social services.

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

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

After the meeting, Mr Lythgo said the disruption in the foyer was ‘regrettable’ and that an investigation would be carried out.

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.”

Pick up a copy of this week’s Reporter for full budget coverage.