Leeds campaign to ‘reverse cuts’ steps up pace

CAMPAIGN: Sarah Godfrey and Julie Baird, pictured with parents and children outside Leeds Civic Hall.
CAMPAIGN: Sarah Godfrey and Julie Baird, pictured with parents and children outside Leeds Civic Hall.
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Parents fighting against changes to transport policies affecting youngsters with special needs in Leeds have presented a petition to council chiefs.

The move by Leeds City Council will see young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), who are over 16, issued with personal travel allowances instead of council-organised transport to get to school.

It is believed the changes, to be implemented from September, will save up to £830,000 for the local authority.

Parents and the campaign group Disability Empowerment Action Links (DEAL) staged a demonstration in Leeds city centre in April to raise awareness of the plans.

And on Friday campaigners presented councillors with a petition of 2,500 signatures, calling for the cuts to be reversed, at Leeds Civic Hall. Sarah Godfrey, organiser at DEAL, said they are now awaiting a decision following the meeting, over whether they will reverse the cuts.

“The changes weren’t given full consideration of the impact on the families,” she said.

“Some parents will have to give up their jobs as a result, so they can take their children to school themselves. They have got mortgages.

“Some of the schools aren’t on their doorstep either, some are special schools that are more than 13 miles away.”

The meeting between parents and Coun Jonathan Pryor, who sits on the council’s executive board, was organised by Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves.

She said: “Disabled children and their families in Leeds need safe and secure transport to get them to school. I am determined to carry on working with affected families and the council to find a solution, to ensure that no one loses out.”

The council spends £1.8m-a-year on transport provision for 280 young people in SEND post-16 education. It has said that, unlike other authorities, it has not decided to charge for transport but was forced to make changes after funding cuts.