1,000 set to join in city council HQ 'protest' March on Stoke
HUNDREDS of protesters are expected to march on the Civic Centre to fight council plans to build new £40 million headquarters.
Organisers of March on Stoke are hoping they can rally around 1,000 people to join them in a demonstration tomorrow against Stoke-on-Trent City Council's plan to relocate from Stoke to Hanley.
Group chairman Alan Barrett, aged 57, of Campbell Road, Stoke, said: "We are hoping for about 1,000 people, but even if there is just 10 of us, we will still march.
"There's an awful lot of anger in the city about what is planned. But some people can't come because they work, some because their business relies on the council and some don't want to come because they work for the council and they are worried about repercussions.
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"We should not be allowing this. It is going to kill Stoke.
"Everything goes to Hanley. The council has been throwing millions of pounds at Hanley for decades. There is no need for the council to move.
"Where the Civic Centre is at the moment, all the infrastructure is in place. It is close to the A500 and the A50, which has a direct link to the M1, and the railway station is just a short walk away.
"It is a huge gamble with our money, that our children and grandchildren will have to pay off."
A poll on The Sentinel's website showed the vast majority of people are against the council's move to a new headquarters.
A resounding 87 per cent of all votes cast – 1,205 online readers – said the council should stay in its current headquarters, while 186 voters, 13 per cent, agreed with the move to Hanley.
The new civic centre, which will cost taxpayers £40 million, will be the 'anchor tenant' in the proposed Central Business District, in Hanley, a key part of the council's economic recovery strategy.
The authority claims 300 jobs will be created during the building of the new HQ and up to 4,500 in the 10 years it will take for the wider CBD to be completed.
About 1,300 workers are expected to move from the council's current headquarters in Stoke in 2015.
March on Stoke plan to meet at 11.30am at the North Staffordshire African Caribbean Society (Norsaca) headquarters, in Cannon Place, Hanley, on Saturday before heading down College Road, in Shelton, to Kingsway, in Stoke.
Protester Anthony Bradshaw, aged 39, of Penkhull, who will be joining the rally, said: "I think a lot of people will take part. We all know there should be development and we need jobs, but we think the council are going the wrong way about it."
Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Mohammed Pervez said: "The group is welcome to air its views and has co-operated with the council and the police in agreeing its route. We are monitoring events on the day, along with colleagues from the police, from a community safety perspective.
"The programme is about regenerating the city and creating jobs and growth, by creating a strong city centre.
"The council is fully committed to the regeneration of the whole city with the aim of benefiting all its residents and communities."