Salford campaign group hold May Day Rally against cuts eighty years on from historic Bexley Square demonstrations

By Amy Senior

A growing Salford campaign group are holding a May Day Rally in Bexley Square some eighty years after The Battle of Bexley unemployment demonstrations.

Salford Trade Union Commission (TUC) and Salford Against the Cuts (SAC) are inviting people to join them to speak out against the government’s cuts in a May 2nd demonstration.

The rally will commence from 2pm and participants are advised to gather in Bexley Square just off chapel Street.

SAC secretary, Steve North, said: “May Day has been celebrated for over 200 years – it’s a day when working class people come together to celebrate but to also talk about traditions, heritage and the troubles they’re facing.”

The demonstrators also wish to highlight the significance of May Day following the government’s recent proposals to scrap the holiday for an alternative date.

The Regional Secretary for the North West TUC, Alan Manning, believes May Day is still more relevant than ever.

He said: “This year, in the face of the savage cuts to public services, record levels of youth employment and attacks on living standards May Day will be another opportunity to demonstrate our alternative for growth, tax justice and fairness.”

On October 1, 1931, The Battle of Bexley saw thousands march to the town hall in protest against the new means tests only to be met by hundreds of police.

The marchers continued their protests against public sector and dole cuts and an attempt to submit a petition to the town hall resulted in brutal clashes.

In February, Salford Council announced £40million of cuts which included 500 job losses in adult and children’s services.

Mr North added: “We’re not prepared to pay out any more money for the crimes of bankers who have been greedy with our money, lost it and then expected to be bailed out by the tax payer.”

The group formed last November following the successful relaunch of the Salford TUC two years ago and has since remained involved in community causes large and small.

It focuses on people like the elderly, unemployed and young people who are not necessarily active unionists but are still very much affected by cuts.

Just last Thursday SAC members attended a demonstration for the on-going battle to save Broughton’s Fit City which is facing the axe due to the council cuts.

Mr North sees the group as the link which prevents people from feeling isolated in their causes as members from other areas offer their support and vice versa.

He said: “It’s a really powerful thing to see people from places like Eccles, Walkden and Swinton stand up for a recreation centre in Broughton, It inspires them to carry that fight on.”

The recreation centre, which offers activities to young offenders and mental health groups, is considered a ‘vital space’ by users like James Riley, 33.

He said: “If the lads around here couldn’t use this place for football games they’d be hanging around the street corner next to it smoking weed all day.”

Campaigners for the centre have invited others to assist in their cause by emailing Broughton councillors about how important the centre is to them.

Anyone wishing to enquire about the rally or set up a campaign stall may contact the Secretary Steve North on: 07817 434240 or [email protected]

THEN AND NOW: October 1, 1931, The Battle of Bexley saw thousands march to the town hall in protest against the new means tests


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