THOUSANDS of anti-austerity demonstrators marched through York before staging a huge city-centre rally.

The protest, organised by Yorkshire and Humber TUC and including unions, anti-cuts groups, health and environmental campaigners and students and with an all-female list of speakers to mark International Women’s Day, set out from Clifford’s Tower at lunchtime on Saturday and halted outside the Barbican, where the Liberal Democrat conference was taking place.

The Better Way march continued into the city-centre and back to the Eye of York for the rally. Organisers said about 3,000 people attended. They thanked police and City of York Council, which suspended its controversial Lendal Bridge closure for the day.

Bill Adams, regional secretary of Yorkshire and Humber TUC, said: “It’s been very good-humoured and we’ve had a lot of support from the people of the city. A strong message has been sent out about trying to find a better way to do things, rather than through austerity and attacking the most vulnerable.

“There must be a better way than pushing back workers, driving down living standards and attacking the poor. There must be a more just and fair society. People here today didn’t cause the financial crisis.

"Everybody realises the country has to pay its way and I don’t think anybody has an argument with contributing to that, but when you have tax cuts for millionaires at the same time as people are relying on food banks, it does not cut it.”