A TEAM of protestors from South Holland marched through the streets of London on Saturday to oppose Government spending cuts in this area – and came face to face with the violence that made the national headlines.
Lynda Wilkinson was one of a 30-strong delegation that went from Spalding to the capital – and she witnessed first hand as an angry faction went on the rampage.
Miss Wilkinson, Unison South Holland branch secretary and a customer services worker at South Holland District Council, said it was a scary moment as a gang hurled missiles and broke windows as she took a break in an Oxford Street cafe.
She was among a delegation of Unison, Unite and Ucatt union members from South Holland who joined more than quarter of a million peaceful protesters in a TUC-organised march through the capital.
But a hardcore of about 500 people hijacked the event, attacking banks and shops, leading to more than 200 arrests and 60 people being injured, including police officers.
Miss Wilkinson said: “The march was a fabulous family-orientated event and by the time we got to Waterloo Bridge the Embankment was just a sea of colour and there was an amazing atmosphere.
“But we did see some people who we thought were there to cause trouble as they were wearing face masks and obviously weren’t there to make a peaceful protest.
“We were in a cafe in Oxford Street when the first window was broken.
“It was quite scary, although not entirely surprising as you always get these factions who use every opportunity to make their point.
“I spent my time just making sure that those around me were safe and the marchers just tried to keep on walking and not take any notice of the trouble.
“It was just a real shame because the rest of the march was very peaceful and the police did a really good job and did everything they could to get people through safely.”
Miss Wilkinson is now hoping the level of support for the march will make the Government reconsider its spending cuts strategy – and says the full impact of the cuts is being felt here, with cuts to officer jobs recently announced at the district council where she works.
She said: “We didn’t walk miles for nothing. There is an alternative to these cuts and we want everyone to know how many people will be affected.
“Every day now I am saying goodbye to colleagues who have worked here for years and I am hoping that everyone will sit up and see how many people are affected.
“We hope the sheer number of people involved in the peaceful protest at the weekend will make a difference because everyone is affected in some way.
“We are all in it together and I think everyone needs to understand what is coming next.”