Derby

Pupil in wheelchair refused transport help

Josh Higginbottom and mum Sharon Davis
Image caption Josh Higginbottom uses a high-tech wheelchair but struggles to operate it on his own

A 10-year-old wheelchair user has been refused a free bus to school because he lives "within walking distance".

Josh Higginbottom has cerebral palsy affecting movement in his arms and legs, but has been told he cannot get a bus as he lives within three miles.

His mother said the journey is too "busy and treacherous" for him to complete alone.

Derbyshire County Council said it has a strict policy on providing school transport but the family can appeal.

Josh is starting at Ashgate Croft School in Chesterfield in September, half a mile away from the family's home.

Sharon Davis said the authority told her the distance from their home to school "measures less than the statutory walking distance" so they cannot assist with transport.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the journey involves crossing six roads and has pavements too uneven and narrow for a wheelchair.

Image caption Josh's new school is just half a mile away but his mum said it is a "difficult" journey in a wheelchair

"He struggles to make the distance and with cars on the kerb and the traffic, it is very difficult for him," said Ms Davis.

"It will only be worse in peak hours with more cars, more people walking."

She said Josh uses a high-tech chair operated with a joystick, but he finds it tiring using it for long periods of time.

"I can't always be there for him and he needs to have his own independence," she added.

Ms Davis said she could take Josh to school in the family's custom van but there is not sufficient parking nearby to open the van's built-in ramp.

Taking a test journey, Josh said: "It is tiring. I won't have energy to do work."

Derbyshire County Council said its policy states if a secondary school pupil lives less than three miles away "transport is not usually provided".

But a spokesman added: "Each request is considered taking into account an individual's circumstances and where a request for transport has been turned down there is an appeal process where the decision would be reviewed."

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