School SEND transport cuts – parents say NO DEAL!

Leeds City Council has made the decision to withdraw escorted transport funding for young people aged 16+ with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).  Parents (organised through ‘Disability Empowerment Action Links’ (DEAL) and students, alongside Unite Community members, gathered on the steps of Leeds Town Hall to protest against the withdrawal of this service, which follows cuts to respite care and other cuts in pay for support carers.

Rob Hooper (Leeds Socialist Party & Armley TUSC candidate)

These service users have launched a campaign to highlight the huge impact this policy would have, and reverse the decision.  Young people face losing independence and mobility as well as social networks they have built up through years of using these travel services.

The Labour-run council has responded to the service users, callously explaining that the law does not compel them to provide travel for the 16-18 age group.  While travel for those with the most complex needs may still be funded the council is also offering ‘independent travel training’ to some of the disabled young people.

TUSC candidates went along to show our support and discuss our strategy of utilising reserves and borrowing to halt cuts to vital services, whilst building a mass campaign to force the funds our services need from the government, with TUSC candidate Iain Dalton receiving cheers when this was explained to the protest. Socialist Party members Kevin Pattison, the Unite Community branch chair, and Manny Dominguez, Leeds Unison eqaulities officer, also addressed the protest.

This loud and vibrant protest (including singing ‘the wheels on the bus’) won plenty of support from passers-by, who were unanimous in their support.  As in other areas of the country where councils have begun the same process, the protests are set to continue to put pressure on the council to fund these vital services.

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