A group of students, carers, and parents—all outraged over recent council cuts for disabled students—staged a protest outside of Trafford Town Hall on Wednesday the 18th of November.
The protest group, aptly named ‘Save Our School Bus’, have scrutinised the city council’s new policies regarding transportation for disabled students which reduces school to home bus services for severely disabled students.
Council members have told parents that they are not responsible for transportation of students over the age of 16. They have instructed the parents and carers to have their children utilise public transport or other forms of transportation.
Sean Anstee, the town council leader, stated: “It is no longer sustainable for us to fund transport for those who don’t qualify, over and above our statutory responsibility.” Cutting transport was first put forth by the council in 2011 but has only been recently implemented.
Sally Wheatman, the ‘Save Our School Bus’ co-ordinator said: “It’s very easy for some local decision-makers to see issues in terms of budgets and figures. We thought, as parents, it was important for councillors to see our children and the daily challenges they face.”
“This is causing serious hardship to our families. One parent has lost her job because she had to take time off work to take her daughter to and from school. For many families, transport to and from school is all the support we get, and it can be vital in helping to keep a job and fulfil other family commitments.”
After the protest, Wheatman stated, “there is no-one in that council chamber who can now legitimately claim that any of our teenagers can travel independently on public transport.”
Come next May, parents of children at sixth forms in the Trafford area will now have to apply for transportation. Only those with ‘exceptional circumstances’ will be granted any.
“If our children don’t fit into those exceptional circumstances,” says Wheatman, “I’m not sure who does.”