Parents of disabled children hand over petition to Northamptonshire County Council

Candidate for Northampton North MP Sally Keeble, parents of the children at Northgate and Beehive and councilor for Delapre and Briar Hill Julie Davenport pictured handing over the petition today to cabinet member for children's services Fiona Baker.
Candidate for Northampton North MP Sally Keeble, parents of the children at Northgate and Beehive and councilor for Delapre and Briar Hill Julie Davenport pictured handing over the petition today to cabinet member for children's services Fiona Baker.

Parents and politicians have handed over a 2,000-strong petition to the county council today after the authority paused its plans to make disabled children walk to bus stops.

The council 'initiative' meant 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 an unknown bus stop to be taken to school.

But earlier this month after pressure from the parents, politicians and this newspaper, the county council postponed their proposal for transport changes until next Spring.

On Friday a group of campaigners, who included Labour MP hopeful Sally Keeble, councillor Julie Davenport and parents of the children who still might be affected, handed in a petition collated by Jaime Shellard to cabinet member for children services, Fiona Baker.

Sally Keeble said: "Fiona Baker came and recieved the petition. And, she responded well to the parents who were looking for assurances that there would be a proper consultation about the proposals.

"It was quite a sizeable petition. They had over 2,000 signatures signatures, and they have done very well.

"But they were all still very angry in the way in which the council had behaved."

The county council has called the scheme, it was set to introduce to parents and children on November 4, 'pick up and set down points'.

The local authority said it was rolling out the initiative as part of its home to school transport policy and had been working with schools and parents involved.

But some parents whose children attend the Beehive Centre and Northgate School Arts College contested that they did not want them walking alone in the dark for one mile.

Northamptonshire County Council decided earlier this month that more time is needed for parents to "prepare their children for the change.”

The parents are still calling for a proper consultation process which they are hoping for after Christmas.

Councillor Julie Davenport (Ind, Briar Hill and Delapre) said: "I do feel really postive about it and I trust councillor Baker that she will consult everyone.

"What I don't want and the mums don't want is for it to become a political thing. It's for the children to have fairness and equality.

"We do need to consult with the parents and if they are not happy with their children walking, I do not know where that leaves the council with their duty of care."

READ MORE: Call for public consultation as disabled school children asked to walk mile to bus stops