OAPs take to Sheffield streets to demand fairer treatment

Sheffield Pensioners Action Group .  A protester
Sheffield Pensioners Action Group . A protester
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BRASS band music, banners and placards turned shoppers’ heads as campaigning pensioners took to Sheffield streets to demand a better deal from the Government.

Members of Sheffield Pensioners’ Action Group - formed in 1986 against changes brought in by the Thatcher Government - headed out to demonstrate against the coalition’s policies.

They were joined by supporters from Barnsley Retirees’ Action group, Sheffield Anti Cuts Alliance and Labour Party councillors.

The group marched from Castle Market to Barkers Pool, led by Dinnington Brass Band Junior Section.

Dot Gibson, of the National Pensioners’ Convention, who had travelled up from London, addressed the group at the end of the march, outside City Hall.

The pensioners and supporters handed out leaflets to passers-by while on their route, gaining support from shoppers.

Christine Buckles, aged 69, of Hunters Bar, a retired supermarket worker, said: “I think the march is a wonderful idea - I should have joined them.

“Pensioners seem to be forgotten at the moment; our treatment is disgraceful.”

The biggest issue highlighted by Sheffield Pensioners’ Action Group was the level of state pension.

The basic pension is £102 per week, when the income below which people are classed as being in poverty is £119 per week.

Jacqui Milner, aged 69, from Stannington, secretary of the group, said: “With the means-tested top-up element to the pension, people who own their own homes and have even small amounts of savings don’t qualify.

“Meanwhile, those who have never worked are better off. That can’t be right.”

She added that any moves to means test bus passes would ‘hit trade in town and city centres’.

Barry Cook, who helped set up the new Barnsley Retirees’ Action Group and also attended the march, said: “We want to create a wider movement in South Yorkshire to campaign for a fairer deal.”

Also among the dozens of people on the march was Hilda Sables, 66, from Hillsborough, a retired ward manager at Middlewood Hospital.

She said: “It’s not just the elderly but the young people I fear for. What’s going to happen when they reach our age?

“The current situation penalises people who work hard. We need better pensions and current benefits protected.

“Changes such as means-testing bus passes would have a wider impact - a lot of older people use them to go out volunteering.”