1. ITV Report

City council agrees arts funding cuts

Protesters at Newcastle Civic Centre Photo: ITV News

Controversial cuts to arts funding and libraries have been passed by Newcastle City Council as angry protesters gathered outside Newcastle's civic centre last night to oppose the new budget.

The proposals, entitled Fair Choices for Tough Times, have attracted criticism after the council announced they would be making 100% cuts to the arts.

This included famous names such as Bryan Ferry, Sting and Mark Knopfler signing a joint letter to express their opposition.

Bryan Ferry, pictured here with Roxy Music, has been outspoken about the council's arts cuts Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Archive/Press Association Images
Stars like Sting have condemned the cuts to arts and culture proposed by Newcastle City Council Credit: Jaroslav Ozana/Czech News Agency/Press Association Images

Speaking at the meeting last night council leader Nick Forbes said he was "deeply angry" that every grant the authority receives is being slashed by an "unfair Government".

However, he said no one was in any doubt about the financial crisis the council was facing and that the cuts were being made "with a heavy heart and much soul searching".

He said the consultation process had been bruising but declared that the council would be regarded as a "civic basket case" if the decisions were not made.

As he spoke about the proposals, which will see cuts of 100 million pounds, people shouted and jeered from the public gallery with shouts of "shame" ringing out.

He was also accused of spin and "playing the blame game" by the leader of the Liberal Democrats David Faulkner.

In response to the consultation, where 50,000 pieces of feedback were received, Mr Forbes said a new fund called the Newcastle Culture Fund will be created.

Along with up to £600,000 of council money the new venture will look for outside investment from individuals and organisations.

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