Yesterday’s protest by Direct Action Network (DAN) against Birmingham City Council comes hot on the heals of criticism of the £2.8 million spent on the BCC website.

DAN protested at BCC’s failure to fulfil it’s legal obligations to enable disabled people to live independently through direct payments system called The Independent Living Fund. Despite it being a legal requirement to offer such assessments. Check out some of demo pictures.

BCC has been accused of refusing to grant assessments to disabled people for direct payments to employ personal assistants independently.

DAN’s press release outlines that many disabled people have been unable to take control of their own lives to decide on every day tasks everyone else takes for granted; when to go shopping, when to meet friends in a pub or cinema. Instead many are in inadequate housing, on the streets homeless or in a nursing homes unsuitable for their needs. Should a 20 year old be stuck in an old people’s home because that is where the council says he should live?

Very few people stopped outside Council House to find out what the protest was about. Even the police gave up. When the protest moved to Louise Ryland House to hand in the petition only 2 people asked what was going on and voiced their support.

We went in to hand the in the petition as Peter Hay the Director of Social Health and Care wasn’t available. Despite being peaceful and not causing trouble I had a security guard YELL into my hearing aid to roll up the banner we were carrying. When I turned around with my ear ringing he posed like a power demented bouncer blocking the main entrance.

Peter Hay has agreed to respond within two weeks to DAN. This comes 7 months after agreeing to address DAN’s requests which they say never materialised.

Like all demos we decamped to a near by (accessible) pub. The woman leading the demo  (who 10 mins before handed in the petition) was asked for her age by the barmaid. She refused to accept her student ID and asked for proof with her date of birth on it. She reluctantly accepted an Adult Disabled Railcard in the end. I was told this happens a lot. One of the guy’s on the demo typed on his communication keyboard with his nose to tell me he is doing a degree in computer studies.

I can’t help feel disgused to think that whilst disabled people continue to be refused the right to live independently that BCC still find it acceptable to spend £2.8million on a website where I could only find 1 out 17,000 pages with audio description, British Sign Language Interpretation and community languages – on Brasshouse translation services page.

Yet Glyn Evans continues to say

“The new website is a huge improvement – faster, more searchable and easier to navigate, amongst others.

Pesky People says ‘what a load of b******s!’

Read Glyn Evans blog reflecting on criticisms in the Birmingham Newsroom

Direct Action Network protest outside of Birmingham City Council offices. Image includes 2 people holding banner with BCC logo that reads 'Birmingham City Council breaking promises breaking lives. Independent living now! A wheelchair user is in front his banner reads 'equal rights not extra care!"