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Teachers will cause most disruption in north Kent

Picket line outside Dartford civic centre
Picket line outside Dartford civic centre

by Alan Watkins, Rachel Hovenden and Jamie Bullen

Several schools across North Kent are closed today as public sector workers hold a nationwide strike over stalled pensions discussions.

More schools have partly closed as teachers and their assistants take the day off to voice their anger at the government.

Other services have also been hit.

Darent Valley Hospital was expected to be affected by protests, and strikers are stationed at the entrance to explain to patients and visitors why they are taking action.

However, the hospital expects all departments to be operating without any impact on the service.

Elsewhere refuse collections in Gravesham went ahead as normal.

UNISON said their members were "furious, frustrated, and shocked" at the government’s plans.

Nurses, paramedics, teaching assistants, street cleaners and police civilian staff stand to lose substantial sums of money as a result of proposed changes to their pension schemes, said a spokesman in north Kent.

Dartford Technology College is open to years 7 and 11. Younger pupils will be taking part in a literacy Olympics while an outside speaker will be talking to the older pupils about independent thinking.

Gravesham and Dartford council offices were being picketed this morning.

Gravesham council labourer, Martin Hopper, 40, said that he had put funds into his pension over 20 years and was shocked at the planned changes.

Mr Hopper, of Cervia Way, Gravesend, said: "I am stiking over the pensions because it is disgusting. They can't just change how it works and expect you to work longer when you have been saving and expecting things to be a certain way."

Gravesham council worker Dawn Boxall, 48, of Homemead Close, Gravesend added: "Making us work longer will mean more young people won't get jobs. It is the younger generations I am concerned about - if we keep working longer there will be less job openings for them."

The picket line outside Gravesham civic centre
The picket line outside Gravesham civic centre

Several council, care home and theatre workers gathered outside Darford Station to protest against the pension plans.

Shadow council leader Geoff Prout (Lab) met with the protesters.

Steven Warner, who works as an Orchard Theatre cleaner, said: "The response we have had has been very encouraging, they understand why were here and the message we are delivering."

In Gravesham the following schools will be affected, Kent education chiefs have warned.

CLOSED: St John's Catholic Primary School, Singlewell Primary School, Northfleet Nursery, Northfleet School for Girls, Vigo Village School, Saint George's CofE School, St John's Roman Catholic School.

PARTLY CLOSED: Cecil Road Primary, Cobham Primary School, Dover Road Community, Gravesend Boys' Grammar School, Higham Primary School, Kings Farm Primary, Mayfield Grammar School, Riverview Junior School, Shears Green Infant School, Shears Green Junior School, St Joseph's Catholic Primary School, Thamesview School, Meopham Community Academy School, Wrotham Road Primary School.

In Dartford the following schools will be affected:

CLOSED: Bean Primary School, Dartford Bridge Community School, Holy Trinity CofE Primary School, Langafel CofE Primary School, Sedley's CofE Primary School, Westhill Primary School, Westgate Primary School, Leigh Academy, Longfield Academy, Wilmington Academy.

PARTLY CLOSED: Craylands Primary, Dartford Girls' Grammar School, Dartford Technology College, Gateway Community, Knockhall Community School, Manor Community Primary School, Maypole Primary School, St Alban's Road Infant School Nursery, Sutton at Hone CE Primary School, Swan Valley School, Wilmington Primary School, Wilmington Girls' Grammar School, Wilmington Grammar School for Boys, York Road School Nursery.

For the picture from around the rest of the county, click here.

* Please note Kent County Council stated on their website that Shorne Primary School was closed to pupils but open to staff so we also reported it. This was incorrect and the school was open.

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