SENIOR Labour councillors are set to join a huge anti-war protest march in York - putting themselves in direct opposition to government policy on Iraq.

The march, organised for a week today, is expected to be the biggest modern-day protest seen on York's streets.

Organisers have written a statement of support for the march, signed by a wide range of public and community leaders. They include City of York Council executive member for education Janet Looker and long-serving councillors Liz Edge and Bernard Bell.

Liberal Democrat councillors Sue Galloway and Andrew Waller have also signed up to march and in support of the statement.

A number of other councillors are expected to join the march, and they will be joined by a range of local trades unionists, academics and religious leaders, including the Archdeacon of York, the Venerable Richard Seed.

The statement reads: "We are really pleased that the Stop the War march for York is happening on March 15. We encourage local citizens to attend and make their voices heard."

Coun Looker said: "I think that on certain matters of conscience it is right to express your views.

"I am not leaving the party, I have a lot of support for the Labour Party, but I am passionately anti-war and feel it is not something one should hide."

Coun Bell said he had survived one war, in which he lost his brother, and did not want to see more bloodshed.

Coun Edge said: "This is a hugely unpopular war. People do not want it and that message is coming across loud and clear."

March co-organiser Helen Graham, of York Against the War, said: "It is great to have this level of support. There is a real broad base of opposition to this war in York and having prominent local people taking part is very important."

For more information about the march phone Ms Graham on 07855 790347.

Updated: 10:16 Saturday, March 08, 2003