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Marchers to send a message on cuts

The Government will face the biggest public backlash against its spending cuts since it came to power when tens of thousands of teachers, nurses, students, NHS, council and other public sector workers stage a huge demonstration on Saturday aimed at saving jobs and services.

Up to a quarter of a million people are expected to join the protest in London, the biggest union-organised event for more than 20 years and the largest in the country since the anti-war march in 2003.

Labour politicians including leader Ed Miliband will take part, as well as officials from scores of trade unions, community groups, student and pensioner organisations, and a number of activists planning to take direct action.

Banks and stores in Oxford Street will be targeted by anti-cuts group UK Uncut, as well as a "secret" location which will be hit by a mass occupation.

So-called dissident feeder marches will take place, with plans ranging from threats to occupy Oxford Street and stopping traffic with "flashmobs" to meandering along the route of the main march pushing buggies.

The TUC, which has been organising the March for The Alternative for months, said it expects a huge turnout of people from communities across the country wanting to show their anger at the Government's "deep, rapid and unfair" spending cuts.

General secretary Brendan Barber said he hopes the Government will take notice of the protest and change its "damaging" policies, which have already led to the threat of more than 170,000 job losses in local government, another 50,000 across other areas of the public sector, and cuts and closures of services ranging from libraries to youth clubs.

Around 4,500 police officers will be on duty, with the man in charge of the operation, Commander Bob Broadhurst, hopeful that the day will pass without major incident.

The controversial tactic of "kettling" protesters into a confined area will be kept to a minimum, he said, adding: "The issues will be with the fracture groups who might want to spoil the party.

"If people come with disorder in mind, then it's our job to try to prevent it, then stop it happening. We might end up in some form of containment. We would hope we can keep that for as few people as possible and for as little time as possible."

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