Protest was the biggest for 20 years

Demonstrators outside Sheffield City Hall, where the Liberal Democrats' spring conference is taking place. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 12, 2011. Nick Clegg suffered a stinging rebuke from his own party today over radical coalition plans to shake up the NHS. Liberal Democrat activists overwhelmingly passed a motion criticising proposals to put GPs in control of commissioning services. See PA story POLITICS LibDems. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
Demonstrators outside Sheffield City Hall, where the Liberal Democrats' spring conference is taking place. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Saturday March 12, 2011. Nick Clegg suffered a stinging rebuke from his own party today over radical coalition plans to shake up the NHS. Liberal Democrat activists overwhelmingly passed a motion criticising proposals to put GPs in control of commissioning services. See PA story POLITICS LibDems. Photo credit should read: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

DEMONSTRATORS felt they had made their point in a forceful yet peaceful way in Sheffield’s biggest protest for more than 20 years

“It was a better turnout than we expected,” said Martin Mayer, who chairs the Sheffield Anti-Cuts Alliance. “About 5,000 turned up to the demonstration, and it went off peacefully as we said it would.

“I think we gave the Liberal Democrats a lot to think about. I think they must have been squirming with embarrassment. We know there are a lot of Liberal Democrats who agree with what we are saying.”

Mr Mayer added: “We were a bit concerned about the police presence because we felt it was over the top.”

At the same time, he praised liaison with the police and the marshalling of Saturday’s demonstration.

The weekend was also an indication of the strength of the Anti-Cuts Alliance, a new organisation representing unions, students, tenants’ associations, action groups and individuals, he said.

Members will be joining a TUC demonstration in London on March. “Sheffield alone will take several thousand people to London, which is astounding. It is going to be very, very big and I think the Government needs to be worried. If they can’t carry public opinion, they need to change tack.”

A spokesman for Right to Work said: “This was the biggest demo in Sheffield since the days of the miners’ strike.

“It was a fantastic display of working class solidarity against the Lib Dems and Tory Coalition.”