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Disabled children hit in school transport efforts
10:00am Thursday 7th February 2013 in News
CHILDREN with disabilities are set to lose vital school transport as part of council budget cuts.
Proposals by Warrington Borough Council could see vulnerable youngsters who currently use a taxi could have that transport taken away.
Or, they may have to ride a bike, use a public bus or be driven by parents.
Action group Warrington Parents and Carers has ‘grave concerns’ over the changes.
In a letter to the council joint chairman Gail Hall said: “Rolling out the changes to all pupils next year will have far reaching consequences.
“Some parents would be unable to continue in employment if the school bus is removed “Parents transporting children individually could result in chaos on arrival at school.
“Parents can understand the need for cost-cutting, in the current financial climate.
“Unfortunately, it is the most vulnerable who are being affected by these cuts.
“Our families are already under extreme pressure due to the nature of our children's additional needs.
“Reduction in support just enhances these pressures and could have a severe impact on the whole family.
The changes will affect around 500 children.
Angry parents attended a meeting with council officers at Green Lane Special School in Padgate on Tuesday night.
Many children who attend there do so by taxi.
However, children with special needs will now be assessed on an individual basis, at least once a year.
They will be offered the lowest cost mode of transport decided to be appropriate for their needs.
Applications are due by April, with parents able to appeal the type of transport awarded.
Council schools boss Anne McCormack said it represents a ‘fairer system’ as the needs of children can change as they get older.
She said: “The introduction of the new procedure has resulted in a clear, fair and consistent process by which to assess applications for transport assistance.
“The procedure is designed to support the most vulnerable through the ability to apply exceptional criteria for those families with particular needs.
“We also take into account whether families are entitled to free school meals as part of the process.
“I do acknowledge that a more efficient and effective use of resources is a result of the application of this process but it has also resulted in a fairer system for all families and it has enabled us to support vulnerable families under the exceptional circumstances criteria.”