PROTESTERS claim around 50 people will picket minister Eric Pickles when he arrives in Poole today for a Radio 4 political debate.

The communities secretary will be on the panel for ‘Any Questions’ with a live broadcast from 8pm onwards at Poole Grammar School, Gravel Hill.

His department announced cuts to council funding of 9.9 per cent in the next financial year, followed by a 7.3 per cent cut the following year.

That decision helped make Mr Pickles, a former Conservative Party chairman who is often described as ‘combative’, a focus for opposition to the Government.

A spokesman for the communities department has described its settlements as a “tough but fair” way of driving down the deficit.

Neil Duncan-Jordan, the spokesman for the recently formed Bournemouth and Poole Anti Cuts Coalition said: “Before the show starts we are going to be outside with placards and whistles.

“Mr Pickles is the minister for local government and that is where a lot of the cuts are happening. Social care, home helps – it’s under his remit.”

Other groups have tried to organise recent demonstrations outside Bournemouth town centre Top Shop, and Bournemouth town hall, but both were poorly attended.

Mr Duncan-Jordan, a press officer for the National Pensioners Convention who lives in Broadstone, Poole, said: “This is the first demonstration that our group has organised.

“It’s a coalition of unions, students, and people opposed to the cuts, and I think we are looking at 50 turning up.”

The debate will be chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby and panel members include Father Christopher Jamison, Director of National Office for Vocation.