Over a Quarter Of A Million People Take To The Streets Of London To Protest Government

From The BBC:

More than 250,000 people have attended a march and rally in central London against public spending cuts.

Labour leader Ed Miliband addressed crowds in Hyde Park and the main march organised by the Trades Union Congress passed off peacefully.

But splinter groups have attacked shops and banks, and a stand-off with police is taking place in Piccadilly. There have been 16 arrests.

Ministers say the cuts are necessary to get the public finances in order.

In the largest public protest since the Iraq war rally in 2003, marchers from across the UK set off from Victoria Embankment to Hyde Park, where TUC general secretary Brendan Barber was first in a line of speakers.

"We are here to send a message to the government that we are strong and united," he said.

"We will fight the savage cuts and we will not let them destroy peoples' services, jobs and lives."

Mr Barber was followed by Mr Miliband, who said: "The Tories said I should not come and speak today. But I am proud to stand with you. There is an alternative."

The march began at 1200 GMT and it took more than four hours for the protesters to file past the Houses of Parliament on their way to the park.

The TUC, which organised the event, said more than 250,000 people had taken part, and the Metropolitan Police confirmed the numbers.

BBC political reporter Brian Wheeler, in central London, said there were lots of families and older people, and the atmosphere was good-natured but the anger was real.

"The noise in Whitehall was deafening as thousands of protesters banged drums, blew whistles and shouted anti-cut slogans, slowly making their way towards Trafalgar Square.

"The crowds were booing as they went past Number 10, but the demonstration was good-natured and friendly.

"There are hundreds of trade union banners, but we have also spoken to public sector workers who have come to make their voices heard."

One of those protesting was Peter Keats, 54, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, who works for Jobcentre Plus.

He said: "Personally, I think it's wrong the way we are hitting the poor.

"I'm not so much worried about myself but the customers I deal with are vulnerable and I'm worried about them and I'm worried about the kids of this country."

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