When South Yorkshire councils scrapped free train travel for pensioners and the disabled last year, a movement sprang up to say ‘no’. They used the tactic of ‘Freedom Rides’ – getting large crowds to turn up and demand to travel for free, as they always had done. Thus the South Yorkshire Freedom Riders was born. What’s really inspiring is that they won big victories in their fight with the council – and now they’re demanding private rail companies like Northern Rail do their bit. Let’s welcome the Freedom Riders outside Northern Rail HQ, 9 Rougier Street at 12noon Monday!
The Freedom Riders have booked a coach to collect people from all over South Yorkshire and bring them to York for a lunchtime of protest. At 12noon they’ll be arriving outside Northern Rail HQ at 9 Rougier Street. They’ll be demanding Northern Rail implement an annual travel pass scheme with a small fee to cover the missing subsidy. At about 12.45pm we’ll march together into town, for a 1pm rally in St Sampson’s Square.
I’m really excited about the Freedom Riders visit – they’ve been one of the most inspirational anti-cuts campaigns in Britain. Anyone who says “British people are too reserved to protest, compared to Greeks and Italians” is in for a surprise. It’ll be wonderful to have them bring their energy and determination to tackle an issue that has left some South Yorkshire residents unable to afford to attend important medical appointments and isolated others.