To Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary
Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) believe it is imperative that disabled and older people are afforded the opportunity to support the TUC ‘March for the Alternative’ demonstration on 26 March in central London. At the latest count it was found that disabled people were facing fourteen separate attacks against our lives and living standards as a result of the Coalition government’s policies. What we are witnessing is our human rights, supposedly guaranteed under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People, being violated by regressive and draconian cuts to benefit and care funding. Increasing numbers of disabled people are being driven to contemplate suicide; with others actually going the whole way. Members of our community are living in daily terror that they will become further scapegoated, demonised and subjected to hate crime violence.
Against this backdrop DPAC demand the right to be fully included in this march and rally as our non-disabled peers would take for granted. As it currently stand the initial planning for the March is creating unnecessary disabling barriers which will both exclude and marginalise disabled people’s ability to participate. So far however the TUC have not responded to any requests from us for support for accessible transport to attend the march and now we have been told that the TUC have agreed (for anyone who can access coaches) that the coach dropping off point will be at Wembley or some other outlying part of London.
As I am sure you are aware the London underground system is one of the least accessible in the world, only one wheelchair is allowed on each bus at any one time, and disabled people cannot afford to pay extra travel costs from an outlying suburb to reach the centre of London. To agree to this as a dropping off point will therefore exclude us from exercising our right to protest.
It is possible to park in central London without bringing London to a grinding halt. When 2 million marched against the invasion of Iraq in 2003, coaches were parked all around Hyde Park and there were no major problems with people arriving or departing from this historic demonstration. Further we are certain that there must be at least 500 or more tourist coaches entering London on any day which does not seem to cause any traffic problems at all.
We have also asked TUC to organise with the police for us to have a static protest in central London for those unable to march but so far have had no response regarding this. We were able to do this very successfully with forward planning at the Tory Party conference protest in Birmingham.
Further we would wish to be kept updated with details of where the march will be going so that we can check its accessibility for our members with a range of impairments.
Both disabled Trade Unionists and other disabled people who attended The People’s Convention last Saturday asked conference to support a motion that the TUC march would be fully inclusive to all disabled people and that all of the required reasonable adjustments would be put in place by yourselves to fully include all of us.
We are willing to work with you to ensure that our full inclusion can be achieved and to assist you in any way practicable. We look forward to your response which we will pass onto disabled people.
We are still waiting for a response!