CAMPAIGNERS took to the streets and the stage to voice their opposition to a North East council’s plans for multi-million-pound budget cuts.
Musicians launched a new charity single to “Save The City Hall” while children and parents showed shoppers what they think life will be like without threatened libraries, swimming pools and youth services.
As revealed by The Journal, Newcastle City Council now must find an extra £10m in savings over the next three years – pushing the total cutbacks to £100m.
Don McDonald, a spokesperson for the protest group Save Our Services, said: “Children, young people and neighbourhoods are having vital services taken away from them.
“The council is pushing through cuts that will take away some of the few spaces where children and young people can socialise, express themselves, learn new skills and develop friendships, which is so important to enabling them to develop as people.”
Among the possible effects of the cuts is the closure of Newcastle’s City Hall.
Launching a charity single with a concert at The Cluny in Ouseburn, Ex-Lindisfarne member Steve Daggett said losing such a historic venue through a “knee jerk” reaction to having to find savings would be something the people of the city would come to regret in the future.
“I think the City Hall is an iconic and atmospheric venue and it’s important that we keep it going,” he said.
“It has a history of hosting bands like The Eagles, the Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan – all of them iconic – and you can’t just throw away that sort of heritage.
“A few people have said ‘it’s just an old building, move on’ but you need to keep something so historic.
“If it’s sold to a developer then for all we know it could be turned into a Primark.
“We would regret such a knee-jerk reaction to the cuts. Just look at Liverpool, where the council allowed The Cavern Club to be pulled down so someone could build a car park.
“They massively regretted it – so much so that they had to rebuild it down the road and now it’s one of the highlights of The Beatles city.”
On Northumberland Street, protesters such as mum-of-two Catherine Manley, from Consett in County Durham, explained to shoppers what they believe will happen if the proposed cuts go ahead.
The 43-year-old youth and community worker, who is married to Kevin, a chemist, said: “The cuts are devastating for the North East and young people – there will be a long-term impact.
“The closure of libraries will put an end to children’s reading groups and the cutting of youth services will have an effect on young people’s motivation, education and training.
“It is very worrying and the council needs to get its priorities right.
“Crime could also increase because there will be nowhere for young people to go.”