MEMBERS of a group set up to oppose government and council cuts have vowed to carry on - despite only attracting six members and a dog to its first protest in Taunton.

Organisers from Somerset Yellow Vests (SYV) claim many people intersted in joining in were put off after "fascists" tried to infiltrate the group.

Two police officers were on hand at the peaceful event on Monday outside County Hall, home to Somerset County Council.

Elvira Elliott, a member of the county's Yellow Vests - which unlike its Parisienne namesake does not advocate violence - said: "We had a huge amount of interest in this protest, but over recent days people have wrongly been associating our group with fascists.

"Sadly it put people off coming.

"But we do not condone violence of any sort. We don't want to start a riot.

"We have kicked some racist elements out. We're about working, every day people."

The organisation was set up in response to multi-million pound council cuts and nationwide austerity measures following the 2008 financial crisis.

"The councils are happy to spend lots of money on refurbishments at County Hall and the Deane House and councillors' allowances are rising while public services are being decimated," added Ms Elliott.

"We are a solidarity movement of people from disparate backgrounds who've had enough.

"The people in charge are getting richer while it's a real struggle for the rest of the country.

"The country isn't being run the right way and we want to reform the political system because it's not working for the common people any more. We've had enough of austerity.

"We will organise more protests, but probably at the weekend when we can attract more people."

She said a recent protest in Bridgwater had been well supported.

Somerset County Council leader Cllr David Fothergill met the Yellow Vests during the event outside County Hall.

Afterwards, he said: "I feel it's absolutely right that people take the opportunity to express their views, although today I think that there was a mixture of issues, some of which were local and some of which were national.

"While I can take away the local issues and look further at them, unfortunately, the national issues are outside my influence."