Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Saturday, 28 February 2009

Protesters march against cutbacks

Demonstrators in Ayr town centre
Campaigners claim communities are being starved of investment

More than 1,500 people from South Ayrshire have marched through Ayr town centre to protest against council cuts.

They are angry at the closure of Girvan swimming pool and the Gaiety Theatre, two sports barns and registrar's offices in Maybole and Troon.

The minority Conservative-led council said it was spending 8.5m more in 2009/2010 than it did in the last financial year.

But it said it had to take tough decisions to balance its books.

March organiser Alec Clark, chairman of Girvan Community Council said the turnout was a "fantastic response."

Difficult decisions

He said: "What has happened to the money that should have consistently been invested in communities over the years?

"Are towns around South Ayrshire to crumble with lack of investment, with no pride in the town, with nothing to generate the economy?"

Leader of South Ayrshire Council Hugh Hunter said the closure of Girvan swimming pool was because of health and safety risks, and was not part of this year's budget.

He added: "In these very difficult economic times we, like other councils, have to make some very difficult decisions.

"We have to do this in order to balance our budget so that we can continue to provide essential front line services to the people of South Ayrshire."

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