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Labour Forced To U-Turn on Plans To Axe Home To School Transport For Special Needs Pupils

June 15, 2015 8:06 PM

Campaigning parents, helped by the Liberal Democrats, have forced Labour councillors to scrap their plans to take away taxi and minibus transport from disabled children.

The plans would have affected children with e.g. severe autism or the mental age of a young child. Some of them would have been expected to catch buses on their own. Some parents were faced with up to 8 bus journeys per day. Other parents would have been expected to get their children to different schools on different sides of the city - all at the same time.

About 750 families would have been affected.

Parent Jackie Cox organised the opposition from parents at Ivy House School. She said, "It's been a very worrying, stressful time for many families. A big thank you to the Lib Dems for making everyone aware of the impact that the transport proposals would have had on families."

Campaigner Danielle Lind said "For 4 months we have been calling for the Council to scrap these proposals. The fact that it has taken them so long to do this shows that the controlling Labour Group were determined to carry on with their half-baked plans."

The Council says it will now sit down with parents and organisations that represent the parents to talk about a way forward.

This fiasco has been a humiliating defeat for Labour. No doubt Labour bosses will try to claim their plans were misunderstood and that they never intended to force them on families. The fact is that parents were told that their children would lose their taxis. The proposed new policy made no mention of taxis as an option.

In January a carefully worded report on these proposals went to Cabinet. The report didn't make it clear that the proposals were for children under 16 years old too. The consultation into these cuts began in early February, but many parents didn't find out about them until 3 weeks later. In April parents asked Labour councillors to axe the proposals, but Labour refused point blank. From the beginning it looked suspiciously like Labour might have been trying to quietly sneak the cuts through.

The big question now is will Labour allow Council officers to sit down and talk with the genuine representatives of the parents, or will Labour choose another organisation (perhaps one that is run by Labour members) and pretend that it represents the parents?