HUNDREDS of protesters gathered in Sheffield at a demonstration opposing the Government’s so-called ‘bedroom tax’ - claiming the levy will hit the city’s poorest families.
Campaigners waved placards and gave speeches on the Town Hall steps, demanding that the tax be scrapped.
The protest was organised by the Sheffield Uncut group, and was one of 57 similar events which took place in towns and cities around the UK on Saturday.
Harry Barham, from Sheffield Uncut, said: “We want the tax to be axed.”
“It is utterly unworkable and will cost more than it saves. Thousands of people will see their housing means slashed. Over 9,700 of Sheffield’s poorest families will be made even poorer by the bedroom tax.”
New rules which come into force next month will mean housing benefit claimants will receive less than they do now if they have spare bedrooms.
Meanwhile, on the same afternoon, arrests were made, dispersal orders were handed out and police deployed to prevent clashes when the British National Party and United Against Fascism held protests in Rotherham.
Around 50 far-right demonstrators gathered on Thornhill playing fields to protest against plans to rebuild a nearby mosque, while a larger group of UAF supporters held a counter-protest on College Road.
Police chiefs drafted in 60 extra officers in case trouble broke out.
Section 27 dispersal orders - which force people to leave a particular area for 48 hours - were issued to seven BNP protesters and two were arrested for breaching their orders.
Officers on horseback and in a police van, were called in to separate BNP supporters and a group of around 20 Muslim men who appeared on the recreation ground.
Police formed a protective line to curb the threat of an angry confrontation, and when the protest was over, led the BNP group back to the town centre.
United Against Fascism supporter Steve Rogers said witnessing the anti-mosque protest made him ‘feel completely sick’.
“It’s deeply unpleasant,” said Steve, aged 62.
“Rotherham has always had a reputation for being a peaceful place.”
Fellow UAF demonstrator Steve Parkin, 61, added: “Whenever these people come into my town I shall be protesting. I don’t want it. They’re demonstrating over some stupid issue over a mosque. It’s just another instance of Islamophobia.”
BNP protesters put up signs saying ‘No More Mosque’, and chanted the slogan. Robert West, a controversial self-styled Reverend, gave a ‘Christian service’, while BNP supporter Marlene Guest said the party was ‘protesting peacefully’.
Chief Superintendent Jason Harwin, from South Yorkshire Police, said the demonstrations ‘passed with very little disruption and no disorder’.
“Residents in Rotherham were able to go about their usual business and I would like to thank everyone for their co-operation,” he added.
The new Muslim mosque would replace the existing Chapel Walk faith centre.