Parents protest over Birmingham special needs and disability transport cuts

Parents protest over Birmingham special needs and disability transport cuts

Parents battling against cuts to a school bus chaperone service for severely disabled children have issued a direct plea for its reinstatement.

They accused the council of implementing cuts to the Travel Assist scheme at very short notice without considering the needs of their children.

And following a protest quizzed the Labour cabinet member for children’s wellbeing Kate Booth over the decision to axe the transport guide service .

Parent Heidi Wells asked: “How can Birmingham City Council adequately safeguard children with special education needs effectively on home to school transport when they have removed some guides from routes without fully understanding the needs of the children.”



She explained: “My son suffers with dysphagia and is at high risk of aspirating on the excessive saliva that he produces, or if he were to vomit. He is also non verbal and wheelchair dependent.

“The driver cannot deal with a situation like this, he is driving, my son cannot alert the driver to gain his attention, he is non verbal, the driver is not medically trained and is not allowed to touch my son. There is a high likelihood of this occurring.”

Fellow parent Mary Riddell demanded the council prove it had consulted properly with parents, medical professionals and schools before making the decision. Campaigners are considering a legal challenge over the short-notice.

The under fire council cabinet also faced calls for a review of the travel assist service as it was the second time in two years that major changes had been made at very short notice – in this case three days.



Jack Reeve aged 15 from Kingstanding who has cerebral palsy has lost his bus chaperone to school. He is pictured with his mother, Heidi Wells. Also left is Dakota Riddell aged 9 , who is also to lose her chaperone, and her mother Mary Riddell.

But cllr Booth (Lab, Quinton) said: “It is disappointing that our parents were taken by surprise and the changes to the routes,” and apologised for the short notice.

She explained that they surveyed parents at the end of the previous term leaving very little time to make the new arrangements.

But defended the decision to alter routes and cut guide service saying that bus drivers are responsible for the safety and security of the passengers.

The criticism also came in the week that Ofsted issued a damning verdict on the council’s SEND services saying that disabled children are let down by education services.

Opposition Conservative children’s services spokesman cllr Alex Yip (Cons, Sutton Wylde Green) said: “Parents are very concerned about the removal of this vital support and rightly furious about the way it had been handled.

“A number of them took the time to attend the Council meeting to voice their concerns but their questions were largely glossed over and addressed as ‘shortcomings’ when the safety of SEND Children is at stake.

“I asked on their behalf for a review to be carried out into both the decision and the handing of it, Labour’s refusal to agree to that simple request shows a shocking contempt for those parents.”

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