Angry public sector workers target David Cameron event

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Indy Politics

Placard-waving public sector workers angry about Government cuts turned out in force today ahead of David Cameron's arrival at a public question and answer session.

Around 100 workers, some threatened with redundancy, chanted "No ifs, no buts, no public sector cuts" and carried banners declaring "Save Our Services" outside Hove Town Hall in East Sussex.

One worker at youth advice service Connexions said up to 50 jobs are under threat locally because of a £700,000 cut in its funding.

The service is available to 13 to 19 year olds and provides advice and practical help on education, careers, housing, money, health and relationships.

The worker, who declined to be named, said: "We are absolutely devastated, as are a lot of the young people who we help out. They have been asking where else they can go.

"We provide important information and advice to young people both while they are at school and after school. This is a statutory service yet it's facing cuts.

"So much for the big society, more like big lies and big mess." Cuts in public spending are set to be among the questions Mr Cameron faces at the fifth PM Direct Q&A.

He is also likely to be challenged by members of the public over his remarks that council homes should not be granted "for life".

His comments, made during another PM Direct session in Birmingham on Tuesday, appear to have sparked further tensions in the coalition.

The Prime Minister has admitted that leading the coalition Government creates "extra stresses and strains" - not least because he and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg have to "do more to take their own parties with them."

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes yesterday warned the Prime Minister that fixed-term council tenancy agreements "in no way" represented coalition policy.

Mr Hughes said Mr Cameron's ideas for ending "council houses for life" had not been discussed within the coalition and "certainly do not represent the policy of Liberal Democrats".

He said the party would be willing to talk about the suggestion but warned that MPs would "not be backward in expressing our personal and collective views".

Mr Hughes spoke out after the premier said there should be "fixed-term" tenancy deals so residents could be moved on after "five or 10 years" if their circumstances change - rather than living in a council home "forever".

But in a statement Mr Hughes said: "Council tenancy agreements have not been discussed by the coalition, and any idea or proposal floated so far is nothing more than that - an idea or a proposal and not a policy.

"So the ideas put forward by David Cameron this week in no way represent the policy of the coalition and certainly do not represent the policy of Liberal Democrats. There was no mention of this issue in either election manifesto or the coalition agreement."

Labour said the differences are further evidence of a split in the coalition.

Former Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said: "Proper government can't be conducted if Nick Clegg isn't speaking for the Government from the despatch box and David Cameron isn't speaking for the Government at a question and answer session.

"Clegg and Cameron need to stop giving different answers to different audiences for party political advantage, as has always been the Lib Dem tactic."