UNITE Community is a union for those not in fulltime employment.

Our members include the unemployed, pensioners, the disabled, students, carers and others.

Our links with the disabled community in Southampton made us aware of the hardships being caused by the council withdrawing the local disabled bus passes.

Free bus passes provide a lifeline to our most vulnerable disabled residents to go shopping, pick up medication, attend doctor appointments or socialise with friends.

They have a right to live as normal a life as possible, but this right is being taken away.

Government austerity cuts led to Southampton City Council deciding that no new passes would be issued after April 2013 and existing passes would not be renewed after they expire.

Only those who qualified for the national concessionary scheme would have a pass, which meant that at least 400 former bus pass holders would be without a pass – leaving them stranded and with a worsened quality of life.

Unfortunately, the council did not take proper steps to find out the full impact this cut would have on the lives of the disabled.

And to make matters worse, the council failed to consider how the negative impact could be eliminated or reduced, as required by law.

Therefore, the council has failed to properly comply with section 149 of the Equality Act 2010. This suggests that the bus pass cuts are of doubtful legality.

This is why disabled and able-bodied members of Unite Community will be asking questions of Southampton City Council on September 17 and holding a ‘Rally to Restore Disabled Bus Passes’ at 1pm outside the Civic Centre on the same day.

Echo readers would be most welcome to attend the peaceful rally and to attend the council chamber at 2pm to hear the responses to our questions.

Mike Dukes, chair, Unite Community Southampton Area (UCSA)