Anger over school transport
Angry parents are to appeal against plans to withdraw free school transport for some pupils with special educational needs.
Transport bosses at Leicestershire County Council have written to 1,600 families across Leicestershire to tell them their children will no longer qualify for free school transport from September 2013.
The move affects those living within a two-mile radius of their special educational needs (SEN) primary school, or a three-mile radius for secondary schools.
The council is only obliged to provide transport to youngsters who live further away, or for whom walking is not an option. The authority estimates the move could save £300,000 a year.
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Louise Blick said she was among those set to lose transport for her son, Jordan, 15. The teenager, who lives in South Wigston, attends Birkett House special school, in Wigston, and travels on a special school bus which picks him up outside his home every day.
He has severe autism and learning difficulties.
Louise said: "I don't drive, so I don't have that option and walking could take us a very long time because of his needs.
"He can't be rushed like other children and public transport would be a nightmare because he can't cope with large crowds.
"I can't sleep for worrying about this. The council is disadvantaging some of the most vulnerable children there are, so I hope they listen to me when I appeal."
Lisa Lord's nine-year-old twins, Joshua and Samuel, both attend Birkett House.
They live in South Wigston – 1.3 miles from the school.
Both boys have developmental problems.
Lisa said: "The boys need constant supervision because their mental age is that of a two or three-year-old.
"I can't drive them to school and walking isn't really an option as I have a 10-month-old baby, too."
Claire Food's 13-year-old daughter, Alicia, attends the same school. Alicia has Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and autism.
Claire said: "I don't drive and Alicia's dad leaves for work at 6.30am. Alicia's routine is very important. There's no way she could make the journey alone.
"I just feel very angry. Life's already a battle without this. I'll appeal as soon as I can."
Charlie Palmer, head of the council's specialist education services, said: "We have to make millions of pounds of savings and we believe this could be one way of doing that.
"We realise many parents may be anxious but this isn't set in stone and anyone who wishes us to review the decision can do so.
"We're giving parents nearly a year to make any changes."
A consultation over the changes took place earlier this year and was approved by cabinet in April.
Anyone who wants the council to review their circumstances should write to the SEN assessment service at County Hall.