AN ANTI-cuts protest will greet councillors arriving at a council headquarters to set the authority’s budget later this week (Wednesday, February 26).

Durham County Council will vote on its 2014-15 budget on Wednesday, with the ruling Labour group proposing a 1.99 per cent council tax rise and £23m of cuts.

As councillors arrive at Durham’s County Hall, they will have to pass an anti-cuts protest on the steps by Durham People’s Assembly (DPA), supported by Unite Community and Durham Miners’ Association.

DPA organiser Paul Simpson said: “We do not accept that the proposed cuts are necessary and are calling on all Durham county councillors to vote against Wednesday’s proposed £23m budget cut.”

Mr Simpson said it was immoral to cut vital services for the elderly, disabled and young people while the wealthiest receive tax cuts and billions of pounds are lost every year to tax evasion and avoidance.

Councils should refuse to implement the coalition’s cuts and help workers and communities organise in resistance, he said.

“We would like to ask why the council has not considered using its reserve budget to offset some of the deepest cuts and how it can justify spending nearly £5m on the redevelopment of the local (Durham) bus station and increase the members allowance payment by one per cent when many County Durham residents, especially those living in some of the most deprived areas of the country, are facing ongoing and severe financial hardship.”

The Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups want council tax to be frozen.