Salford City Mayor, Ian Stewart had just finished his opening speech at this morning's budget cuts meeting of Salford Council when protesters in the public gallery from Salford Against The Cuts (SAC) and United Service Users Committee (USUC) halted proceedings by blowing whistles, brandishing red cards and holding up a banner which read `Blowing Time On Council Cuts'.
"There's not going to be a proper debate in this chamber this morning because you all agree about the cuts, we know that" shouted Paul Gerrard from SAC "The real debate is between the Council that wants to make those cuts and the service users who are suffering from those cuts. We are here to blow the whistle on those cuts. We're blowing the whistle and showing you the red card on cuts in Salford."
As the ear piercing whistles stunned the Council chamber, Mayor Ian Stewart and most of the councillors and Assistant Mayors fled, while security tried in vain to persuade the campaigners to leave.
The protest centred on the suicide of a mental health service user, named as Patrick, who allegedly was told at an appointment at Cromwell House that the drop-ins he attended would not re-open.
USUC has consistently campaigned against the closure of regular drop-ins in fit-for-purpose sites, warning that changing the current structure would lead to deaths.
From the public gallery Vee Ball, from USUC, shouted "How many more suicides do you need? Patrick died last week because you closed that drop-in, don't you know that? It's gone too far. It stops now!"
"Don't talk to us about compassion" she added "You don't give a damn…"
After the Council's security team couldn't remove the protesters, the police were called and, following negotiations, the protesters left the public gallery…
"Patrick used the drop-in, he relied on it and was there most days when it was fully running" Vee told the Salford Star "He was a particularly vulnerable gentleman who wasn't well and I don't think he coped.
"We understand that the day before he committed suicide he was at Cromwell House for an appointment and asked when the drop-in was open. He was told that it wasn't – they told him that it was unlikely it would open at Cromwell again. Unfortunately he jumped off a bridge in Stockport the next day and killed himself."
Looking down on the chamber where smirking councillors were resuming their seats Vee added "These people smile and think that that man's death was funny. That man had a family and was a resident of Salford – he didn't ask to be ill. Words fail me, these people are so arrogant – we're telling them the serious issues. It disgusts me."
Earlier the protesters had joined a protest on the steps of the Civic Centre called by public sector trade union, Salford City UNISON.
For a full report on the protests and waffle at the Salford Council meeting - click here