THE "Grim Reaper" led a protest outside a council meeting as members gathered to approve council tax rates.

Members of the local branch of trade union Unison - one dressed as the Grim Reaper and others dressed as David Cameron and Nick Clegg - protested against Government cuts which, they say, have forced Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council’s hand in setting the budget.

A Full Council meeting of the Labour-led authority agreed to the increase when it met at Eston’s Civic and Learning Centre yesterday (Thursday, March 6).

The figure is 0.006 per cent below the maximum two per cent rise allowable before a referendum is triggered.

UNISON branch secretary Andrew Tickle said: "The Tory-Lib Dem Coalition has swung a scythe through local people's livelihoods and public services in Redcar and Cleveland.

"This latest round of cuts has led to the deletion of 150 posts at the council on top of the 600 job losses already imposed here since 2011.

“These austerity attacks are having a devastating effect on the local economy and undermining services used by some of the most vulnerable members of our community."