6:00pm Tuesday 11th February 2014
By Alex Bysouth
A MID Cheshire union is promising to fight ‘outrageous’ council proposals to cut transport funds for adults with disabilities in the borough.
Cheshire West and Chester’s Adult Social Care Transport Consultation proposes cuts to door-to-door transport for older adults and those with a learning or physical disability.
Ron Yarwood, secretary of Unite the Union Mid Cheshire Branch, worked part time as a council special needs bus driver and believes cuts will disrupt the lives of the families affected.
“Users of this long standing service and their families and carers do not want to have their lives disrupted again by a myriad of cheap and substandard uncaring alternatives,” he said.
“The 1,000-plus strong Mid Cheshire Unite the Union Branch is committed to fight this outrageous plot.”
The current funding enables 428 people to travel to and from day centres on a council-run passenger fleet of cars and minibuses.
Mr Yarwood added: “The council has now got this much needed and acclaimed service in its sights for abolition; attacking the lives of those least able to fight their own corner.
“All families must now mobilise to fight their battle for them and not fall for the claim that the alternatives will be better for users because of personal choice possibly being offered to users, many of whom themselves are incapable of even exercising personal choice.”
The report said the service costs around £1.7 million per year: “Existing council policy does not oblige the Council to fund this service stating that we will only provide and finance transport in exceptional circumstances where there is no suitable and appropriate alternative.
“It is proposed that the Council works with new and existing users of this service to identify suitable alternatives and in line with existing council policy only fund transport in exceptional circumstances.”
Witton and Rudheath councillor, and Labour parliamentary candidate for Weaver Vale, Julia Tickridge believes the consultation is misguided.
"It is unclear to me why the adult social care transport budget has been selected for cuts given the increasing level of demand from 428 of the most vulnerable adults and their carers in the borough,” she said.
“What the consultation does not address is the substantial jobs cuts resulting in the loss of qualified drivers who are key to providing the kind of personalised transport service the Council is seeking to provide.
“It seems to me that only by maintaining at least the current level of service provided by dedicated and qualified drivers that the safety and dignity of vulnerable people and their carers will not be compromised.
“What is clear is that even flagship Tory councils such as CWaC are having to implement budget cuts in keeping with national Tory-led coalition government policy.”
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