Campaigners lobby Coventry council against cuts to disability transport
Members of Coventry Socialist Party were supporting parents on Tuesday, 16th January, who lobbied Coventry Council for three hours against charges of up to £600 for school transport for children with special educational needs.
John Boadle and Isla Windsor explain: “The Council has previously provided free transport to school or college for severely disabled children. Now they are charging parents for each child 16 or over. The amount is £600 a year, or £300 if the family is on means-tested benefits. Almost 1000 children use the school transport, with those aged 16 and over facing the charges immediately, though as each child gets older their families will face the same problem.“
“The impact on families is severe – they are being asked for money they haven’t got. Parents of children with severe disabilities have their whole lives dominated by that situation. Day and night, for the rest of their lives. And then they worry what will happen to their children when they are gone. If Coventry Labour council can’t provide help for people like that then what are they playing at?“
“There was a lot of public sympathy for the parents. And a lot of determination on the parents’ part. You can see that through the sharp irony of the slogan on their banner: Coventry, City of Cruelty!”
The Tories and UKIP may join protests such as these, but they should remember that they support the austerity that is behind these cuts.
Former Socialist Party councillor, Dave Nellist, who also attended the lobby, said: “If Labour’s national anti-austerity stance is to mean anything, then local councils such as Coventry should refuse to make these cuts. Instead, they should be using money from reserves whilst building a fight against the Tory government for the restoration of the necessary funds for essential services.”