Protest against the council cuts budget, Leicester, February 2014, credit: S Score (uploaded 27/02/2014)
Protest against the council cuts budget, Leicester, February 2014, credit: S Score (uploaded 27/02/2014)

‘How will we get to school?’

The cuts by Leicester’s Labour council hit the most vulnerable hardest. One example is its plan to remove school transport, currently available to special educational needs and disability (SEND) children, aged 16 and above. Their excuse for cutting this is that this service is “non-statutory”.

Ben Score is 15, and attends a SEND school. He wrote to councillors, and the local MP, to protest. The following is an extract from his letter:

The council’s SEND director cruelly replied to Ben’s letter, saying that although the council might make some exceptions to these cuts, “the council will not consider exceptions on the grounds that parents/carers are working, cannot afford the cost, or have other children to take to school.”

Being a special needs student myself, I strongly disagree with this decision. The removal of transport means that some parents will struggle to get their child to school.

A lot of parents with children attending my school chose the Home to School Transport as taxi services are becoming extremely expensive. Parents may also be too busy to transport their children themselves due to their jobs, transporting their other children, etc.

One of the supposed benefits is that the change could help build independence in young people. I do not agree with this, as most students in my school aged 16 and over are simply not capable of getting to school by themselves.

Parents only discovered this change in a letter. I have spoken to teachers in my school, and none were aware of the consultation before the letter was sent out. This means that parents now have little time to find alternative transportation, which may be impossible.

The letter states that parents should contact them in exceptional circumstances, implying that some could keep their place if necessary. However, what is considered an “exceptional circumstance” is not clearly specified. I do not believe that all students that require the transport will keep their place.

Would you be willing to contest these cuts? Special needs students should not lose out on opportunities because of a lack of funding.

Playgrounds saved – council caves to protesters

Hundreds of parents and students – who use the adventure playgrounds – lobbied councillors outside the council’s budget-setting meeting on 21 February, over fears they were for the chop.

Although they have now been given assurances that there are no cuts this year, it is clear that it will be cut in future. The council is promising massive cuts to all non-statutory services – libraries, leisure centres, museums etc and more – be decided on over the next year.

The Greens put an amendment to secure the playground funding for four years. But that was voted down.

But even in moving it, according to the Leicester Mercury, Green councillor Patrick Kitterick “accepted cuts would ‘unavoidably’ have to be made across various areas of council spending, but said he felt the playgrounds were something the council could save”. In other words, the Greens are already playing the divide-and-rule game on which cuts to make.

Steve Score, Leicester Socialist Party