Redbridge union members march on central London

Hundreds of Redbridge unionists took to central London today as part of the biggest public protest in a generation.

Some 100,000 public workers, community leaders and students took part in the March for the Alternative organised by the Trade Unions Congress, setting off from Victoria Embankment at noon to a rally in Hyde Park where they were addressed by the Labour leader Ed Milliband and Union bosses.

More than 160 members of Redbridge GMB travelled from around the borough by coaches to join the event against the scale of the government cuts.

Pat Healy, 54, who works at Roding Primary School, Roding Lane North, Woodford Green said: “This is the largest march I have ever been on, the atmosphere here is absolutely brilliant and is peaceful.

“Everybody is standing together for what they believe in and telling politicians that they must listen to the people.”

Hundreds of Redbridge teachers also joined the protest against cuts that they feel are “too hard and too fast.”

Bob Archer, President of Redbridge Teachers Association, said: “The atmosphere is wonderful - we are all here for the same thing.

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“These cuts are already affecting front line teaching in Redbridge schools and schools are already making staff redundant. We will have to spend more hours in the classroom teaching and students are suffering.”

Cllr Ross Hatfield (Labour), Valentines Ward, said: “Today sends a message to the government that they can’t impose such a level of tax on the public sector.

“If you get enough people out on the street saying we oppose the cuts then the government will have to respond.”

Redbridge police joined 4,500 police officers to line the route of the peaceful march that became a river of colourful flags and banners. included pensioners and young children.

Although the main route was family-orientated and peaceful, a small group of activists broke away from the main procession, attacking shops and police in Oxford Circus.

Some also threw lightbulbs filled with ammonia at police officers.

The Cabinet Office Minister, Francis Maude, told the BBC: “This budget deficit was not the fault of public sector workers it was the fault of Gordon Brown.

“The fact is that we can’t keep borrowing a pound in every four.”