City protests against Army cuts

A series of low-key protests have been held across the country against proposed Government cuts to the Army.

The small-scale demonstrations, which involved parents of serving soldiers, were held in several cities including Glasgow, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Newcastle, Cardiff and Southampton. A protest was also carried out at the Cenotaph in central London.

In Southampton, three former servicemen gathered to hold a two-minute silence at the Hampshire city's cenotaph.

Local organiser Stephen Martin, 57, who served in the Royal Artillery Corps, said: "The Government is planning to cut 30,000 troops by 2020 and, being an ex-serviceman myself, I feel it is unnecessary as currently there are more people leaving than joining up, so if we take into account natural wastage we would get the same result without disbanding regiments."

He added: "We know there are wars in Afghanistan and problems in Iraq and Syria and we never know when we are going to be called to a conflict."

In Leicester, around 10 people gathered at the war memorial in Victoria Park where they said prayers for soldiers and held a two-minute silence.

Neil McKinnon, who was a corporal from 1964 to 1976 before being demobbed, laid a wreath of yellow flowers at the foot of the memorial. He said he attended the vigil in protest at the cuts and the proposed amalgamation of regiments which, he said, meant "losing the history and the general family feel of six regiments altogether".

In Plymouth, a city with strong military ties, protesters released 20 yellow balloons in support of the thousands facing redundancy under current plans.

Sharon Privett, mother of Lance Corporal Richard Privett, a member of the 23 Pioneer Regiment unit in Bicester which is due to be disbanded, said the protest was designed to chime with a national feeling of upset over defence cuts.

Speaking from the Devon city's war memorial, the 46-year-old said: "This career is what my son has dreamed about since he was tiny, so we are disgusted that it could be taken away from him and others. A city like Plymouth with a strong military tradition needs the armed forces. It is part of the make up. David Cameron came here on Armed Forces Day and shook people's hands - I hope he is listening to the protests now."