Banners at the Coventry protest, photo: Romanas Mickey / Disabled People Against Cuts

Warwick Free Education against Coventry cuts to the disabled

A Coventry protest, which Warwick students took part in, against council cuts towards disabled people was held on November 27. The protest, organised by Coventry members of DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) was held in response to potential cuts towards transport for disabled people in the area.

The protest was attended and supported by Warwick Free Education supporters Dex Grodner, Callum Cant and Luke Dyson.

Photo: Romanas Mickey / Disabled People Against Cuts

Disabled students and children could face losing their free transport to school under cuts proposed by Coventry City Council. According to a council report, approximately 1000 teenagers currently receive help with getting access to their school or college, costing £3.4 million per year.

Should the cuts go ahead, 270 would lose assistance entirely, with another 65 being requested to pay for the help that they receive.

At the moment, children under eight years old living further than two miles from the nearest school with places available and children the age of eight living over three miles from their nearest school with places available are eligible for free transport. Under the proposed cuts, children in these categories would be assessed to determine whether or not they will still receive this service.

The council also hopes to save £70,000 per year by cutting the free transport provision to nursery children aged three and four.

Second-year Literature student Dex Grodner said that the protest was important to “establish links with people in Coventry who need this free service”, as well as to “open the dialogue between midlands universities and parents of disabled children in Coventry”.

He emphasised that “access to free education is important” and that students taking part in the protest intended to “lend solidarity” to parents of disabled children.

Third-year English Literature undergraduate Callum Cant added: “I’ve been involved with Warwick For Free Education since it started earlier this term … we got involved in order to offer our support to students at all levels of education.

“Free Education means more than getting rid of fees – it also means making sure our education system as a whole is available to all.”

He descibed the proposed cuts as “unacceptable, and we need to make sure that we pressure the council to value services which help the most vulnerable. I believe that local campaigners, like the ones who organised this demo, can force the council to change, and I’m keen to lend my support however I can.”

Luke Dyson, Warwick Students’ Union’s LGBTUA+ Officer and final year Microbiology and Virology student said: “We believe every person has a right to a free education.

“Disabled children already have enough barriers obstructing their ability to achieve their full potential. By proceeding with these cuts, Coventry City Council are placing further barriers for these children to receive an education that every child is entitled to.

“Having a disabled child often has financial implications for parents. These cuts actively discriminate against these families and may force parents to drastically change their working arrangements or fork out a large sum in order to get their children to school.

“The current service offers a safe way for these children to get to school and it is dangerous that the council expect some of these children walk everyday when they are already vulnerable, easy targets for bullies.”


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