Changes to Special Needs Home to School Transport
For parents of Special Needs Children the task of getting their child to school requires often military precision. The school can be miles away and supporting the child’s physical needs as well as emotional requires vital co-ordination with both school and transportation support. The impact of last minute changes and the distress this causes is so obvious that it’s unthinkable that a Council could let this happen. Unthinkable perhaps, anywhere but Trafford!
Arrangements for the transportation were thrown into confusion as the Council, without prior warning re-tendered all of the Special Needs Transport Contracts, prior to the start of the school year in September.
Parents and Carers were not kept informed of the proposed changes which on the face of it were solely designed to save money. As a result it really is questionable as to whether the process actually took account of individual children’s needs. Some parents/carers genuinely did not know whether or not their child was going to be collected on the first day of term and their children needlessly suffered from anxiety wondering who would be turning up for them and who the Personal Assistant would be. Such children require order and certainty not confusion. From the evidence I have seen it is clear their needs were a very low priority in terms of the changes that have been made.
Contractors too, were left confused and inconvenienced with some contracts only being confirmed the day before term started. Indeed a number of contracts were awarded that contractors could not possibly fulfil because they did not have access to the correct vehicles to transport a child. This has resulted in the Council actually paying compensation to contractors under termination conditions amounting to several thousands of pounds, costing the Borough money not saving it!
Now Trafford Tories continue to promise that front line council services will be protected and that those using them will be unaffected by the re-shaping of Trafford that they are pressing ahead with. This is all well and good, but too often in running the Council the Tories are guilty of treating our more vulnerable residents as statistics, instead of addressing their individual needs. This has got to stop, because the dignity and safety of our more vulnerable residents must always be a higher priority than saving money.
I will continue to ask questions of this Council until I am wholly satisfied that our Special Needs Children are being transported safely and their needs and those of their families are being addressed by this service. Is this too much to ask?
Labour Councillor For Sale Moor