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Halifax students march against EMA cuts
Around 40 college and school students marched in Halifax on Tuesday 11 January to protest against the Con-Dem coalition's plans to scrap Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), the weekly payment that some college students receive to enable them to be at college.
The protesters marched through Halifax chanting: "David Cameron hear us say, EMA is here to stay" and "No ifs, no buts, no education cuts" as we made our way firstly to the town hall, to demand that should the government force through its cuts, that Halifax's Labour council should campaign for funds so that EMA can continue as well the public services it is currently planning to cut.
We then moved on to the Halifax bank headquarters where we protested against the obscene bonuses that the bankers are yet again giving themselves and called for the wealth of the banks to be used to benefit all in society, not just an elite. As a few speakers explained, this would require nationalising the banks, not by giving them huge bailouts like the previous Labour government did, but by taking them under democratic workers' control.
We will be having an organising meeting at the weekend to plan further steps for the campaign.
Iain Dalton, Youth Fight for Jobs & Education, Yorkshire organiser
Student protest in Nottingham
Tuesday 11 January saw students from schools, colleges and universities all over Nottingham come to the Old Market Square to show the local council and the people of Nottingham that we, as a student population are not going to give up, we are not going to back down and we will win this fight against the ideological hacking of all services, including education.
After a small rally in the square, we moved off to march to Vodafone and rallied outside the store resulting in the store closing for the rest of the working day. When we felt we had made our point we moved off to march directly to the Nottingham Conservative Party's offices, gathering momentum and building in numbers as we went. The anger was so contagious that many students who hadn't heard of our march joined us and by the time we reached the Tory offices we were at a number of around 200 to 300.
When we got there however one of our group was arrested for alleged vandalism. The brutal treatment he got was massively uncalled for, and when a few of our group tried to help the 16 year old student, the police started to lash out at them, kicking, punching and throwing them onto the floor. The protest was peaceful and always had been planned that way, yet the police were already on the offensive despite none of us being violent towards them.
We then decided to hold a small rally outside the police station, but the student was moved off to another location, so we marched to that police station too, still gathering numbers.
But on the way to the station one of the school students saw a Vodafone store and immediately sprang towards it, and the march then became an occupation of this particular store.
What impressed me most was not the number of people, the support of people not on the march nor the young age of some of the protesters, but their ability to make an instant connection between EMA being axed and tuition fees being hiked, and Vodafone's £6 billion in unpaid tax.
Truro students march to save EMA
Around 40 students and activists marched over two miles to County Hall in Truro on 11 January in protest against the government's scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance. The demonstrators marched with placards saying 'Don't ConDem Us to Unemployment', chanting 'Education for the masses, not just for the ruling classes'. The march was met with huge support from members of the public.
Upon arriving at County Hall, the main Cornwall council building, the protesters continued chanting and many members of staff and councillors offered their support. The cold weather and exam period had meant many could not attend but the atmosphere was incredibly positive.
Six protesters got into the main council meeting and began putting up anti-cuts posters and shouting 'no ifs, no buts, no education cuts', before being removed. The short occupation shifted the council debate from the topic of an adult products store in the city to the more important matter of education.
Max Stephens, a college student and activist, said: "The fightback has started and we invite people in Cornwall to join us in solidarity in future actions." Lisa Camps, another main organiser, echoed this: "We won't let our voices be drowned out amid the government's vehemently anti-student rhetoric."
The EMA helps thousands of students from low-income backgrounds in Cornwall and across the country continue with further education, so our demonstration was an important part of the overall campaign against the cuts.
Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance will be meeting in Truro on 22 January to discuss the next steps in the anti-cuts struggle; students, workers, activists and local people are urged to come. The group can be contacted on 07412 477 292 and found on Facebook.