Coventry Socialists join protest against increased charges for children’s disability transport
Earlier this week a protest took place outside the council house in Coventry. Michael Morgan, who will be standing for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition in Henley ward, has written this report.
Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn it is fantastic and indeed very positive that we now have a Labour leader talking about anti austerity policies against the continued cuts of the Conservative government.
Unfortunately this is not yet translating to a fightback against austerity at a local level with Labour councillors carrying on as before. In this case they are planning to charge disabled children’s families up to £600 for transport services to school once they are 16 years old.
This is at the same time as the council holds reserves of over £100 million! They still prefer to pursue what some have labelled vanity projects, such as buying Coombe Abbey Hotel, than to effectively oppose Tory cuts. They then continue to claim that they must increase council tax, that they must charge the families of children with disabilities for the ability to travel and receive an education, and to claim that they must ‘save’ money.
The Socialist Party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) argues that if the council can afford to buy a hotel, then they can surely afford to give disabled children the opportunity to get their education, and not to be charged for it.
The Socialist Party is standing several TUSC candidates on the 3rd of May in Coventry to oppose policies such as this. In particular we are standing against cabinet member Kevin Maton in Henley, who is behind the charges. Local Conservative councillors and activists have attended protests organised by the campaign against these charges – however it is highly hypocritical when you look at what the Tory government is doing to working class people, particularly those with disabilities. It is incongruous for Tories to campaign for the rights of disabled people on a local level when the Tory party leadership are making it harder for people with disabilities to receive benefits.
The parents of the campaign have done a great job in organising and arguing their case, including mounting a legal challenge to the council – as they believe the proposed charges are age discriminatory. The Socialist Party will continue to raise this issue in our local election campaign and continue to support the campaign until the council stops these discriminatory charges.