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500 School Students March in Lancaster Anti-Cuts Demo

Chris Satori
Local school students rallied and marched in their hundreds today in Lancaster to protest against the cuts in education such as the abolition of the Education Maintainance Allowance (EMA), which helped teenagers from low-income families to stay on in education after age 16 to study A levels or do vocational training, which has been cut without consultation.

A National Student Day of Action was called for today as Further Education grants are cut, tuition fees are being raised, and the prospects of social mobility for reponsible low income families with an ingrained fear of debt are being sealed off by a government whose cabinet consists almost entirely of multi-millionaires.

About 500 students from local schools marched through Lancaster and rallied in Dalton Square. Ian Chamberlain, a local campaigner against the cuts, said "I was at the anti-cuts meeting last Thursday and we weren't aware that high school students were mobilising locally. It's great to see people autonomously organising and fighting against the unfair cuts. These students deserve a free education just like David Cameron and his cabinet enjoyed.

"Campaigns such as these are inspiring the whole community. The movement is growing and there is a sense of urgency. The coalition government ought to be very afraid.

"I overheard police officers saying they supported the students. 20% cuts to the police force had obviously brought things home."

Protests were simultanously held on the Lancaster University Campus and throughout the country. In London 130,000 students marched, many of them to the Lib Dem offices to protest about the party reneging on its pre-election promises not to raise tuition fees, which had won it a significant proportion of the student vote.

In fact the Lib Dems and their leader, Nick Clegg, have approved government plans that will raise the cap on tuition fees from £3,290 to as much as £9,000 per year.

Earlier in the week, severing his ties with democracy, Lib Dem business secretary Vince Cable had astonished erstwhile supporters by rationalising that commitments made to the electorate in the pre-election manifesto did not 'count' as the Lib Dems had not won a majority. He said they were now bound instead by the coalition agreement they had made with the Conservatives (who had also failed to achieve a majority).

Prior to the election both parties promised to retain the means-tested EMA, which they then cut almost immediately despite its being a lifeline for the very poorest students, aged 16-19.