CAMPAIGNERS called for a public backlash to rival the poll tax riots to fight cuts in public spending.

About 60 people attended the Colchester Against the Cuts meeting to oppose cuts in public services.

The group, launched by the town’s branch of the Trade Union Congress, has planned a series of protests in Colchester in the build-up to a national anti-cuts demonstration, in London, on March 26.

Guest speaker Paul Brandon, chairman of the Right to Work campaign, pictured, said: “In the next few months, there will be a loss of 400,000 jobs in the public sector.

“We are being asked to pay for something that’s not our fault. The key question is, what are we going to do about it?

“We need to carry on marching and demonstrating. That will involve strikes, direct action and occupation.”

A rally is to take place outside the town hall at 5.30pm on Wednesday, February 16, before Colchester Council sets its budget.

Members of the National Union of Students are set to demonstrate at Essex Univeristy on Thursday, February 24, the day universities are expected to raise tuition fees, possibly up to £9,000. A march through the town from the war memorial is planned for noon on Saturday, March 5.

Simon Collis, 29, a Harwich resident and a Public and Commercial Services Union member, said: “These cuts are threats on our everyday services.

“My local post office has closed, my hospital might be closing, my fire station might be closing and my police station is closing.

“Our coastguards are going to close as well. Everything we hold dear is closing.

“We need a grassroots campaign to bring people together and say we don’t accept these cuts.”

Bob Russell, Colchester’s MP, criticised the campaigners’ approach. He said: “This is not the way to go about this in a democratic society. I don’t know of any authority with any political make-up that likes making cuts.

“As anybody with a family budget will know, if the money isn’t there, it isn’t there.”