An estimated quarter of a million people - including midwives, health visitors, school nurses and other health workers - took to the streets of central London in protest against the government's proposed spending cuts.

Although Saturday's March for the Alternative was largely peaceful, a small group of hardcore anti-capitalism protesters - dubbed "anarchists" by Kit Malthouse, chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority - caused opportunistic criminal damage to various Central London locations. Targeted businesses included branches of HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Boots, Topshop and Fortnum & Mason.

However TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, said he was proud of the way the march was organised and that the event overall was "good-natured and friendly".

He added: "Of course we condemn the small numbers who came looking for violence, but we will not allow their actions away from our event to detract from our campaign.

"With the budget a damp squib, the economy faltering and the NHS reforms becoming more unpopular each and every day, marchers will have returned home determined to step up their democratic campaign against policies that neither government party put before the electorate at the last election."

Posted by Penny Hosie on 28.3.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com