Thousands join the day of action - UPDATED

Public sector workers gathered in Blackpool town centre for a rally and march
Public sector workers gathered in Blackpool town centre for a rally and march
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16:15 - A march through Blackpool town centre was followed by a summit at a resort hotel.

Hundreds of campaigners stormed through Blackpool as part of the fight for public sector pensions before heading to the Ruskin Hotel on Albert Road to hear speeches from local union chiefs about the success of the day of action and plans for the future.

Outside Layton Depot, UNITE Branch Secretary Geoffrey Salthouse (left) and UNISON Shop Steward Andrew Merry.

Outside Layton Depot, UNITE Branch Secretary Geoffrey Salthouse (left) and UNISON Shop Steward Andrew Merry.

Blackpool Council’s Labour leader Simon Blackburn spoke to delegates as did local health and benefits union bosses who told the audience the Government must now realise the strength of conviction against more cutbacks. FOR THE ALL THE REACTION ON TODAY’S STRIKES PICK UP A COPY OF THURSDAY’S GAZETTE.

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14:45 - HUNDREDS of campaigners have marched into St John’s Square in Blackpool as they protest over public sector pension reforms.

Health staff, civil servants, town hall workers and teachers were among those who stormed down the resort’s Promenade before gathering in front of the Winter Gardens where they made their feelings known in a cacophony of noise.

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14:00 - THOUSANDS of Fylde coast workers are out on strike today with health services facing major reductions in levels of care as bosses cope with fewer staff.

A North West Ambulance Service spokesman said: “We can confirm the service is operating with a reduced workforce today and we do have less ambulance on the road than we would normally have.

“Our priority is to provide a safe service to the public and 999 calls will be answered and responded to, however it is likely some patients will experience a delay in our response. Our patient transport service is only operating for those patients who require urgent care such as dialysis, cancer care or palliative care.

“We would ask the public to help us maintain a service to those who urgently need our help and to only call 999 in the event of a serious or life-threatening condition.”

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THOUSANDS of angry public sector workers walked out on strike today disrupting schools, council services and hospital operations.

Teachers, civil servants and NHS staff are among those taking part in the nationwide day of action.

Only one school in Blackpool was set to stay fully open. Some 92 of the Fylde coast’s 120 schools have closed for the day.

CLICK HERE FOR THE UP-TO-DATE LIST OF SCHOOL CLOSURES.

Libraries, leisure centres and some bin collections were expected to be affected.

Picket lines formed outside Blackpool Town Hall, Central Library, Layton Depot and Progress House as staff joined the protest at pension cuts.

In Blackpool, a march was due to be held through St John’s Square followed by a rally at the Ruskin Hotel on Albert Road.

Pete Marsden, branch officer for the Blackpool local government branch of Unison, was predicting a massive turnout.

He said: “There will be significant support because people are really angry at what is being proposed by government. Not only are they attacking our pensions but local government workers have faced a two-year pay freeze.”

Around 44 per cent of Blackpool Council’s work force (not including teachers) are union members, but the council said it hoped to keep disruption to a minimum.

Assistant chief executive Carmel McKeogh said: “Although all council services will be operating some may need to operate on a skeleton staff. Services will be reviewed throughout the day. The focus will be on maintaining services to the vulnerable and those who rely on essential care and support.

“Bin collections which are undertaken by a private operator contracted to the council – will continue as normal.”