This is Gloucester covers day of action on legal aid cuts by Gloucester Law Centre
"Monday, June 06, 2011,
Don't cut off our legal aid PROTESTERS gagged themselves in a bid to show their opposition to Government cuts in legal aid.
With the word 'silence' branded across their mouths and their faces ashen, around 30 people gathered outside the office of Gloucester's Tory MP Richard Graham.
The Government will soon unveil the results of a consultation over proposed cuts to legal aid funding for non-criminal work, which is available to give poorer people access to a solicitor or lawyer.
The coalition is expected to approve the cuts, which would mean the closure of Gloucester's Law Centre, and a national day of action was held on Friday.
However, Mr Graham was not able to meet protesters due to a previous engagement.
Anne Whitworth, senior solicitor at the Gloucester Law Centre, who was among the organisers of the silent protest, said: "We have already spoken to Mr Graham and he told us he supports the cuts, so meeting him again would be pointless.
"We just want to show him how people in his constituency feel about it. These changes are going to hurt those who can afford the least."
Many of the protesters were past and present clients, who told The Citizen how the law centre had helped them.
Liam Kelch, 47, went to the centre for help when his son Matthew had his disability allowance taken away at the age of 18.
He said: "We were going around in circles, but now he's on the basic level of allowance, so he can go to college."
Martin White, 75, of Hempsted, said: "I've lived in Britain for 50 years. I served in the air force and married a British woman.
"I was always travelling around with a Barbados passport, but after 9/11 it all changed. I had to get a British passport in 2006 and the law centre helped me with that."
Other protesters included 44-year-old Jane Stokes, who approached the law centre for legal help with her employer when she fell seriously ill. She said: "I think I would be in a bad place now without them."
Mr Graham said he would be happy to meet with representatives of the group.
He said: "Of course there are serious issues, often involving children, where legal aid should and will play a part and the Government absolutely recognises this.
"But it also believes we should reduce legal aid in many other areas and I support that. The key issue is to determine which cases require legal work. The current legal aid bill is over £2 billion per year."
WI and the day of action against legal aid cuts-link below
"Women’s Institute campaigns against legal aid cuts- June 6th, 2011
The Women's Institute believes legal aid cuts will have a disproportionate impact on women.
Members of the Women’s Institute (WI) joined Justice for All campaigners at a rally outside the Supreme Court in London on Friday last week to protest against the impending legal aid cuts.
The WI is particularly concerned about the disproportionate impact of the cuts on women who have experienced domestic violence. They believe such women need the protection of the courts and have problems related to relationship breakdown, such as housing matters, which need legal help. While the WI acknowledges that domestic violence will remain ‘technically covered by legal aid’, the organisation is critical of the narrow definition which the government intends to adopt and of the fact that women will be unable to get help with other legal problems.
‘The WI is well aware from our recent campaign on violence against women that legal aid is a vital, life-saving resource for women leaving violent relationships. Put simply, without access to legal aid on a wide range of issues, women are more likely to stay in situations that are unsafe for themselves and their children,’ Marylyn Haines-Evans, from the WI, told the crowd.
Also attending the event were supporters of the Law Society’s Sound Off For Justice campaign, including its talented protest song choir which entertained a large crowd of members of the public, legal aid lawyers and charity workers. The rally heard speeches , including one from the shadow justice minister, Andy Slaughter MP. He told members of the crowd to keep on campaigning and to make sure MPs are informed about the impact of the government’s proposals in order to influence the bill, which is expected to be introduced in the next couple of weeks.
The rally at the Supreme Court was one of a number of events held throughout the country last Friday which were co-ordinated by Justice for All to draw attention to the planned government cuts to legal aid. These included marches in Birmingham, Coventry and Eastbourne."
Re the article from the Gloucester Citizen posted above about Gloucester's action on Friday, there was also good coverage on BBC Radio Gloucestershire on Friday - don't know how to download it but it was on the drivetime show starting at 5pm and can be listened to on the website. Also today in the Citizen alongside the article was a good editorial comment, as follows : "Giving Many a Voice - When it comes to having a voice in the criminal justice system, legal aid is vital. There have been thousands of people helped by the funding, who otherwise would have been left without anywhere to turn. It is an essential service and one that needs to be preserved. While the cuts being brought are not expected to affect funding for criminal cases it will have an effect on many legal services that are just as vital. Among those protesting about the cuts in Gloucester were people whose lives have been helped by legal aid and in particular the city's law centre which could close in the cuts. People such as Martin White, who found himself needing a British passport after living in this country for 50 years, or Jane Stokes, who approached the law centre for legal help with her employer when she fell seriously ill. How will people receive help in the future if Gloucester Law Centre closes down?" Quite!
Great job Anne in Gloucestershire-shame your MP sounds so blinkered-maybe you need to start to send all your clients along to him as well so he starts to understand how his workload is about to increase, maybe he wouldn't then be so complacent. Here's the link to BBC Radio Gloucestershire on Friday 3 June 2011 and the Drive time show-available for 4 days more. Do you know how far in the item was?