HEREFORDSHIRE Council faces an annual meeting like no other in its 15 year history next Friday.

The council’s ruling Tory group is ready to stake its single member majority in a gamble on the county’s very future.

Cuts protesters gathered outside the council’s Brockington HQ this afternoon heard that the meeting would decide “the society Herefordshire wants to be”.

Brockington had been due to host the crucial council cabinet debate on cutting services from loos to libraries. But, little more than an hour before the debate was due to start, the council confirmed that it was off.

In the face of growing and vociferous public protest, cabinet was expected to approve the principle of the proposed cuts and send that approval to the full council meeting next Friday as a recommendation for debate.

Instead, a decision taken behind the scenes at Brockington this morning now leaves that approval of principle entirely in the hands of the full council, with the Tories holding a majority of one.

There was little word out of Brockington on the deferral with the council saying it was “working on a statement” to outline why the cabinet debate was called off. As part of the PR strategy, members have been told to temper talk of cuts with references to “new ways of delivering services.”

Protestors against the cuts gathered at Brockington as planned. Even Book Start Bear was there - amongst the delegation from local government union UNISON - to fight a cut of up to 75 per cent in funding for libraries.

UNISON plans a rally against the cuts in High Town, Hereford, this Saturday and further protest at full council on Friday.

Councillor Mark Hubbard, group leader with It’s Our County, addressed protestors on steps of the council chamber saying that Friday’s meeting would decide the county’s future.

“What’s being asked is what sort of society do you want in Herefordshire – we’ve never had that debate,” he said.