Socialist Worker

Freedom riders pile the pressure on South Yorkshire councils

by Dave Gibson
Issue No. 2400

Protesters gather at Barnsley station on Tuesday of this week

Protesters gather at Barnsley station on Tuesday of this week (Pic: Jack Hetherington)


Over 100 Freedom Ride protesters continued their protests on Tuesday of this week against the axing of free train travel for older and disabled people.

Ten transport police lined up at Barnsley station to try and stop protesters getting on the train. But after a meeting, protesters decided they would get on anyway. The manager of Northern Rail was forced to tell us that we could get on for free.

Last weekend Barnsley Central Labour MP Dan Jarvis called for talks between the four South Yorkshire Labour councils and the campaigners. It was a dramatic shift from his attacks on protesters for “breaking the law”.

What helped change his mind was the fact that his intervention did not stop 100 people continuing to protest. Letters to the local paper have lambasted him, referencing the suffragettes, original freedom rider Rosa Parks and the amount of money he has claimed for travel expenses as an MP.

Aslef union vice president Tosh McDonald joined the protest on Tuesday and Aslef has made a donation to the campaign.

Barnsley College UCU branch secretary Lee Short said, “My branch has sent a motion to Barnsley Trades Council supporting the freedom ride protest. Disabled students have been affected because they cannot use their bus pass now until 9.30am and are missing morning classes.”

Protesters voted to hold another Freedom Ride on Monday of next week.


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