As Chancellor George Osborne delivered his latest round of cuts, workers and residents in Bootle marched in defence of jobs.
The demonstration was called by the Battle for Bootle, a campaign set up to unite members of the PCS union and the local community against the proposed closure of HM Revenue & Customs offices in the area. The move puts jobs at risk as well as threatening the local community.
The protest coincided with George Osborne announcing a further £3.5 billion off cuts to government departments and £1.2 billion in welfare cuts so that higher earners can be gifted with reduced tax bills.
Roughly 90 protesters gathered at South Park, across the road from Hugh Baird College, before leading a loud and angry march down Stanley Road to The Triad, one of the local tax offices facing closure.
Traffic was unable to move along the road as marchers and onlookers were addressed by speakers at the end of the march. This included local MP Peter Dowd, PCS representative Gerry Noble and local business owner Dave Asbridge.
Peter said: “The Tories proposal to move tax office staff out of Bootle is appalling. As many as 3,000 jobs could go from Bootle town centre which will devastate it.”
Gerry, a Bootle resident as well as a member of the union’s HMRC Group Executive Committee, said: “It was really good to see so many people out and making their voices heard for our campaign today. This is just the start.
“George Osborne is cutting tax offices when there is £130 billion in evaded and uncollected tax to help his millionaire mates. We saw this today with cuts to benefits to pay for tax breaks for the rich. But he’s got a fight on his hands – a fight we intend to win!”
Dave, who runs the successful local car boot sale, said: “As an ex-Bootle civil servant who now runs a business in Bootle it’s concerning that the government are attempting to erode jobs by moving them away from Bootle.
“Bootle has been a hub for civil service jobs for decades and it just doesn’t make sense to hamper the recovery stratagy for business by taking away over 3000 working people from Bootle’s town centre. This will deplete businesses who all rely on HMRC staff and other civil service departments for their income. If you take the workforce out of Bootle you will only hamper Bootle’s community.”
The campaign will be holding its next planning meeting on Tuesday 12 April, at 6pm in the Jawbone Tavern, where future campaign activity will be on the agenda. You can RSVP on Facebook here.