Disabled Northampton school children walking to bus stop is independence building, county council says

Five children are already making their way to and from 'Pick Up Points' where they will be taken to school - as part of a new Northamptonshire County Council initiative.

Thursday, 26th September 2019, 3:39 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 this afternoon (Thursday) replied to the Chronicle & Echo's story which was published this morning.The local authority said the idea comes after a review was commissioned last year which outlined how savings could be made - including for mainstream transport, post-16 provision and SEN travel.

Councillor Jason Smithers, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for highways and place, said: “Home to school transport is a significant area of spend for the county council with an annual budget of about £18m.

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“The review looked at budget, commissioning of transport and delivery of transport.

“There has been no change to the home to school transport policy but work is being carried out to bring consistency to the application of the existing policy."

The county council has called the scheme, which 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'.

Councillor Smithers added: “Work also includes looking at suitable walking routes and improvements in the efficiency of commissioning and delivery of transport.

“We have already implemented the use of Pick up Points for SEN children at one school in the county with success.

“Of the initial cohort of children identified, five children, with written agreement from their parents, are now making their way to and from the Pick up Point unaccompanied which is a positive forward step towards their greater independence.

“We are continuing to liaise with schools and parents.”