DEAL campaigners force council back on cuts to 16+ SEND transport

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Protest against SEND school transport escorts for 16+ year olds, organised by DEAL Leeds and Unite Community – photo Iain Dalton

Parents involved in the Disability Empowerment Action Links (DEAL) group have pushed the Leeds City Council into ‘pausing’ their plans to cut transport.

Iain Dalton, Leeds Socialist Party

Instead of implementing these plans this September, the council will now delay them for a year, as well as guaranteeing all that will be using the service from this September that it will continue to be provided until the completion of their studies.

This is the second time this year the council has had to u-turn on proposals made by it’s Children’s and Education services brief after trying to ram proposals through against opposition from those affected, following it’s u-turn on plans to build a free school academy on Fearnville playing fields, a campaign spearheaded by local Socialist Party members.

Like Fearnville Fields, this u-turn is due to the persistent campaigning efforts of parents and their supporters, particularly those in Unite Community. This has included a well-supported rally during the local elections, have gathered petition signatures and getting local Labour Party organisations to come out in opposition to the council’s policy. This even led local Blairite MP’s Rachel Reeves and Hillary Benn to come out in support of their campaign.

Whilst relieved, the DEAL campaigners are aware this is a reprieve, not a final victory. Already, along with Unite Community, they have been making links with other parents. Correctly they see this as a continuing struggle, in their statement to the press they commented:

“We look forward to working with the council in developing a fair policy for the children who will be post-16 in the future. We would also like the council to look at transport policy for children under five years with SEND. Furthermore, we hope the council will work with schools – who know our children very well – in developing their transport policy.”

Leeds City councillors should back these demands, but also seek to link up with parents, trade unions and other councils across the country in a mass campaign to force the Tory government to concede the money necessary to maintain and improve this and other services.

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