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Protests against education cuts continue in Brighton

Following the recent student protests against increased tuition fees and education cuts, a third protest took place on last Tuesday, 30 November, across the country.

In Brighton it was estimated that nearly 1,000 demonstrators came together for the third protest to show opposition to the coalition government’s budget plans.

Students attended from various schools, universities and colleges including the University Of Sussex,

University of Brighton, BHASVIC (Brighton Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College), Brighton Institute Of Modern Music (BIMM) and Vardean College.
The crowd did not just include students. Many older people were out in force to support the march including local Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion Caroline Lucas.

Tuesday was a day of nationwide protests which also took place in London, Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Belfast, Manchester and Bristol. Demonstrators were out to show their disagreement with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government who plan to cut educational funding, increase tuition fees and stop the Educational Maintenance Allowance paid to sixth formers.

Although students of all ages attended there were reports that any child from Blatchington Mill School and Sixth Form College who missed school would be expelled. In response to these kinds of threats that were also apparent on the Wednesday 24 November protest, there was a petition going around to support the right for children to demonstrate freely.

The march started off from Victoria Gardens at 2 30pm. It was modest in comparison to the 2,500 strong crowd of the 24 November.

The protest went through Churchill Square and along Western Road. After some confusion at Bartholomew Square a police line was forced to remove itself from the crowd and reposition.

Shortly after the protesters attempted to surround police vans and when the regular police began to struggle, the riot police soon arrived. There were slight scuffles with police hitting out at protesters and even one policeman offering a fight when he was off duty.

The march soon moved on and reached the intended target of Hove Town Hall.

Police had already guarded all entrances to the hall and staff had been taken out of the building. The main part of the march surrounded the main entrance and was held back by police and police dogs until the demonstrators occupied the Norton Road car park.

A banner was unfurled, a David Cameron effigy was burnt and the fire alarm was set off before most left the car park to join the group at the Town Hall entrance.

Before long a new group of riot police were brought in and due to a fear of kettling, the entire march retreated and split into two groups.

Kettling is a tactic used by the police to control large crowds, often during protests or demonstrations. It is also referred to as containment or coralling.

At this point the march became dispersed with some heading to the seafront and others back along Western Road where two banks were entered.

Soon the march petered out as it headed down London Road. The march finally ended with a group of 60 people being kettled at The Level and let out in small groups to disperse.

The police reported that there was a total of 5 arrests made throughout the day with the youngest being 15 and the oldest 21. Many students were not happy with what they saw as the heavy-handed tactics of the police.

Craig Simpson, a music student at BIMM said “kettling just provokes people, if they just let us get on with it from a distance, there wouldn’t be any trouble. The police running in with batons when we’re just chanting doesn’t help anyone.”

More protests are planned for the day the government votes on tuition fees.

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