Criticism over plans to axe door-to-door services for disabled school children

Disabled children could be expected to walk a mile alone to be taken to school as part of a new Northamptonshire County Council (NCC) idea.

Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 6:12 pm
The initiative is set to be rolled out on November 4 by council chiefs at Angel Square (pictured).

The 'initiative' will mean children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) - who currently get picked up by a minibus or taxi from their homes - might instead have to walk one mile to be picked up from a bus stop instead.

The county council has called the scheme, it is set to introduce to parents and children on November 4, 'Pick Up and Set Down Points'.

The idea being, NCC said, will help 'promote independence in young people', 'increase physical activity', 'reduce congestion and emissions' and 'reduce the amount of time children are travelling in a bus or taxi'.

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One mum, who did not wish to be named, told the Chronicle & Echo that her daughter has Down's Syndrome, among other conditions, and cannot be expected to make the journey alone.

She said: "She is vulnerable, she has no sense of danger.

"I can't get my head around it at all.

"She's not going to be going on her own, it's not going to make life easier for anyone involved."

The new scheme will be rolled out to selected children who attend the Beehive Centre and Northgate School Arts College.

Councillor Julie Davenport (Ind, Briar Hill and Delepre) said: "It always seems to be the vulnerable in society that are targeted."My concerns are for the impact on the children due to lack of assessment of each child and the effect that could have on their perception of school. It must be so difficult for parents to have their lives and schedules disrupted. They still have to go to and finish work at certain times, have other children to care for and yet they now have this added journey, fighting the elements twice a day - wait for the winter."The cut backs are really starting to get to me, seeing local people impacted. "

In a letter to parents NCC said: "If your child is in scope of this change, you will be asked if you feel your child can travel to the Pick Up Point and from the Set Down Point unaccompanied.

"If you feel they cannot make their way to and from the specified points alone, we will ask you to provide the names and contact numbers of two responsible adults, nominated to accompany your child."

Northamptonshire County Council has been approached for comment.