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LIVE UPDATES: Sussex on strike
8:54am Wednesday 30th November 2011 in News
2pm: Sussex Police report the majority of protesters are leaving The Level, with approximately 500 remaining behind.
Were you marching in Brighton, Worthing, Horsham and Hastings today? Share your pictures and experiences with Argus readers by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
1.50pm: Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas speaks to strikers gathered on The Level.
Reporter Nick Owen live streamed her speech.
1.09pm: Argus photographer Simon Dack returns and says he believes this could be the largest protest he has seen during his 30 years in Brighton.
According to Simon, marchers took 45 minutes to walk the length of North Street.
1.03pm: Protesters start to arrive at The Level. According to Tim Ridgway there are approximately 6,000 people on the march. Official figures from Sussex Police state approximately 4,500.
1pm: Dave Hill from the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition says: “This is class war. It’s the 1% threatening the jobs and benefits of the working classes.”
Karen Walsh, a city council employee is at the march with her six-year-old son. She said: “When you get a job at the council you sign up with an idea of how much pension you will receive. The Government want to change that.”
12.50pm: Police say they confiscated a reinforced barrier from protesters who tried to use it to get into Churchill Square. The group of masked protesters have now rejoined the main group.
12.40pm: Sussex Police report a woman has gone into labour and officers on the march are "blue lighting her to hospital".
12.30pm: Police and protesters protesters clash outside Churchill Square.
12.25pm: Argus photographer Simon Dack has just spotted a group of about 100 masked protesters break off from the main group and head towards Churchill Square. They are apparently from the Occupy and Resist group.
12.24pm: Thousands of strike marchers are making their way through Brighton city centre.
12:23pm: Prison officers marching up North Street, from reporter Nick Owen.
12.20pm: City council cabinet member Pete West said: “We are all in this together over public sector pensions. The Government’s plans don’t show they value public sector workers. How will the rich be paying for the country’s problems?
12:15pm: Thousands of public sector workers are gathering in Victoria Gardens, Brighton, as the three marches from East Brighton, Hove and Moulescoomb join together.
11.57am: Two of the three marches join together at Grand Parade, Brighton. Tim Ridgway reports a great deal of cheering.
11.50am: Two more Conservative MPs have had their say on the strikes: Brighton Kemptown Mp, Simon Kirby, said: “The union leaders stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that the cost of public sector pensions has risen by a third in ten years, that the taxpayer has to foot the bill for this increase in costs and people are living much longer than in the 1970s.”
Horsham MP Francis Maude said: “Our offer is generous and fair to public sector workers and other taxpayers. Many low and middle income workers will actually receive a larger pension income at retirement.
“It is irresponsible of the unions to carry out these strikes while discussions are ongoing. Once this day of disruption is over we need to get back to the table and reach an agreement.”
Meanwhile Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas is on the picket line supporting the strikers.
11.35am: Labour council leader and hospital worker Gill Mitchell is among the marchers walking along East Street. She told our reporter Tim Ridgway: "The support from members of the public and members of staff has been brilliant. "They have been bringing hot drinks and food to us throughout the morning."
Brighton and Hove Bus service is feeling the disruption of the strikes.
Buses are no longer getting up or down Eastern Road, Brighton and buses are forming a backlog in the Old Steine. On the tourist front, the Brighton Wheel is turning but is not very busy and the Pier is quite too.
11.20am: Tim Ridgway reporting a "jovial" atmosphere as marchers make their way down Eastern Road.
11.20am: Chief Inspector Jane Derrick says Chichester is very quiet as marchers make their way across the city.
11.15am: Tim Ridgway reports the road is closed outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton. At least 250 are there with a further 300 people joining up from Whitehawk. They will carry on their way down Eastern Road.
11.07am: Approximately 170 people are marching from Moulsecoomb and a further 450 from Hove Town Hall.
11.05am: No disruptions are being reported at courts in Brighton.
11am: Tim Ridgway reports that the Job Centre is still open with job seekers berating picketing staff members.
PCS workers on the picket lines outside Brighton Job Centre and law courts.
10.55am: Marchers have set off down Lewes Road, from the University of Brighton picket line in Moulsecoomb. They will join other marches at Victoria Gardens. 10.37am: Brighton and Hove Buses has released information of expected diversions through the city centre due to today's strike marches. The number 23 and 25 services are not serving the University of Sussex campus today, but terminate at Falmer Station. The 5A service is not able to serve Hove Polyclinic or Millview Hospital.
10.35am: Tim Ridgway reports it’s starting to rain in Brighton. How much affect will this have on turn-outs for marches later on?
10.30am: Members of NAPO, the union for probation staff, are striking outside their building in Grand Parade, Brighton. According to the chair of the Sussex branch, Carole Brownsey, it is only the third strike in the union’s 99 year history. She said: “For our members to ballot is has to be something they feel very strongly about. What people don’t know is that three years ago we made changes to our pensions to make them more affordable. Now the Government has come back for more. What’s to stop them coming back again?
10.20am: According to Mark Turner from the GMB there will be more than 10,000 people at today's march through Brighton. Speaking to Tim Ridgway at the Hollingdean depot, he said: "“The mood is defiant. We have been getting a lot of interest from people wanting to join the union or take part in the strike. I think the march will attract more than 10,000 today. “I drove around this morning and I don’t think there is a single school open. We are making our voices heard.”
10.15am: About 200 people are gathered in St Paul's Church In Chapel Road, Worthing, waiting for the march to begin at noon. According to our reporter Siobhan Ryan they are singing songs and playing guitar.
Radiographers from Worthing Hospital on the picket line. Picture: Nigel Bowles/Connors Brighton
10.10am: Look out for our roving reporter Tim Ridgway who is cycling around Brighton talking to strikers. Follow his tweets at @ridgwaytim.
10.05am: Lecturers, students and staff at the University of Brighton’s Moulsecoomb campus are also striking. Alix Brodie-Wray, one of the staff members and a Unison member, said: “People have a certain idea about the public sector workers but it’s not all men in bowler hats. Today shows people what actually makes up the publics sector.” Simon Heath, also a staff member and Unsion member, said: “It seems like a lot of people understand the issues. I don’t think anyone is just being awkward. “There seems to be an idea that public sector pensions are gold plated. It’s actually a lot more difficult than that.”
9.50am: Spirits are being kept high at the Hollingden depot in Brighton by music blaring from a “battle bus”. The 90-strong protest includes 70-year-old Tony Wilson, who said: “There are no services running today. The changes by the Government will not affect me but I’m doing this for the people who are behind me.”
9.45am: There are around 40 people picketing outside Worthing Town Hall. There are also demonstrations outside Adur Civic Centre and the council depot in Lancing. Roger Varndell, Unison branch secretary for Adur and Worthing, said: “Pensions are important to everyone. Working people need to feel they are going to get a decent pension when they retire. We need to raise awareness about what is happening because it affects everyone.
The GMB battle bus arrives at Brighton and Hove City Council's Hollingdean depot.
As public sector workers strike across Sussex, The Argus is regularly updating this story with updates from the picket lines and march through central Brighton.
Pickets in Brighton
Hove Town Hall 7am
Brighton Town Hall 7am
Kings House Grand Ave 7am
Hollingdean Depot 5:30am
Job Centre Edward Street 7am
Brighton Uni Moulsecoomb Site 7am
Brighton Uni Falmer 7am
Brighton Uni Grand Parade 7am
Sussex Uni 7am
Jubilee Library 7:30am
City College 6am
Varndean College 7:45am
10:30am from Whitehawk Bus Garage, Hove Town Hall and Brighton University Moulsecoomb Site. These will collect other picketing workers as they make their way towards the main march which forms at Victoria Gardens in Grand Parade.
The march will start at 10am in St Pauls, Chapel Road Worthing, with a rally at noon the march will start from St Pauls and follow a route past the local Conservative Party office in Union Place to Worthing Hospital where the march will link up with protesting health workers.
The march will end on the steps to the entrance of the Guildbourne Centre for an open-air public debate.
Demonstrators are meeting at Hastings Pier at 11.30am before marching to the town centre for a rally.
The protest will assemble at 10am at the bandstand in Horsham Park.
They will go to the bandstand in the Carfax via Madeira Avenue where Tory Party HQ is.
Protesters say they hope cabinet minster Francis Maude will come into the garden for 15 minutes to talk about the planned changes.
Chief Superintendent Paul Morrison who is leading the police operation said: "Sussex Police will, as always, facilitate what is anticipated to be a peaceful day of protest and will protect the rights and freedom of others to go about their lawful business without fear of threats, intimidation or unreasonable disruption.
"In Brighton there is expected to be a large march and protest, with demonstrations also planned for Worthing, Horsham and Hastings.
"We have been engaging with the organisers, who have been very co-operative and have informed us of their planned routes and activities. This has helped us plan for the events, although exact numbers of protesters are unknown."
UK Border Agency staff, who look after passport control at all airports, are on strike.
Scott Stanley, Gatwick Airport’s Chief Operating Officer said: “The strike action by UK Border Agency staff will regrettably present frustrations for arriving passengers required to pass through border agency checks today.
“In the weeks leading up to today, we have been actively working with the Border Agency and our airlines to work up robust plans to keep delays at immigration to a minimum."