Coventry Socialists join protest against increased charges for children’s disability transport

Coventry Socialists join protest against increased charges for children’s disability transport

30571920_2089282141307943_7323586545545309374_n

Refused and charged for 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.

Campaigners lobby Coventry council against cuts to disability transport

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.”

Support protest against cuts to disabled children’s transport

Support protest against cuts to disabled children’s transport

Parents and campaigners will be lobbying Coventry Council on Tuesday 16th January against council plans to charge up to £600 for disabled children’s travel to school. The lobby is from 11am-2pm.

It is not right that ordinary people in Coventry are still paying the price for the financial crisis. Coventry Socialist Party supports this protest and urges the maximum possible attendance.

Coventry Council Scrap Planned Cuts to Disabled Children’s Transport

Coventry Council Scrap Planned Cuts to Disabled Children’s Transport

Protestors outside the Council House

Protestors outside the Council House

Coventry Council announced today that disabled children’s transport to school will continue to be funded for at least another year, after protests over the planned cuts.

Over 50 people protested last month outside the Council House, including Socialist Students and TUSC activists as well as members of Warwick for Free Education. The protest was organised by community campaigner and DPAC member Eleanor Lisney.

This victory shows that protest and pressure works, and councils can be forced to back down over planned cuts – however, as the funding has only been guaranteed for another year it shows the importance of keeping that pressure up, both in terms of protest and electoral challenges to councillors who continue to vote for cuts.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

It is urgent that the Council use the £80million+ reserves to stop any cuts to buy time to build a mass fightback in the city, linking up with other councils, to demand proper funding from central Government.

Protest against Labour’s plans to cut transport for children with disabilities

Protest against Labour’s plans to cut transport for children with disabilities

Protestors outside the Council House

Protestors outside the Council House

Around 60 protesters lobbied Coventry Council today in protest at their planned cuts to disabled children’s transport to school. These cuts could leave many children unable to get to school, as many families may be unable to pay for the transport required. Activists from the Socialist Party,the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students attended the demonstration, which was organised by Eleanor Lisney, a local campaigner and member of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC). Coventry’s Labour Council is choosing to carry out Tory cuts rather than fighting back and passing a budget that meets the needs of the people of Coventry.

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition and Socialist Students

They should use some of the £81million they have in reserves to fund services temporarily, while building a campaign with service users, trade unions and community groups to demand central Government provides the money to fund the services we need.

For coverage in the Coventry Telegraph click here