Sussex

Brighton and Hove pupils 'suffer' after transport withdrawn

School gate (generic) Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Some children have missed lessons because of a lack of suitable transport

Children with special educational needs and disabilities have suffered "distress, anxiety and stress" after school transport providers withdrew several services.

Operators of 14 routes in Brighton and Hove halted their services at or just before the start of term, the city council said.

Four routes still do not have confirmed transport providers.

The authority has apologised after 62 children were affected.

Councillor John Allcock told Brighton and Hove City Council's young people and skills committee: "I want to make a direct and unreserved apology on behalf on the administration for the distress, anxiety and stress that has been caused to the children, young people and families as a direct consequence of the change to home-to-school transport arrangements."

'Appalling'

Of 127 school routes, the operators of 14 withdrew their services.

The affected pupils were from some mainstream schools and two specialist schools - Hill Park Special School in Portslade and Downs View, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Temporary arrangements have been put in place for 25 pupils still affected.

One parent told BBC Sussex her 12-year-old daughter was having to travel in a shared taxi with a driver she does not know, causing her "high anxiety".

"I'm appalled. Our children are suffering," she added.

Rob Arbery, chair of governors at Hill Park Special School in Portslade, said 30 pupils were unable to attend during the first week of term because of the issues.

The council said a two-year contract was awarded to Edge Public Solutions to review transport arrangements which had previously been run by taxi firms, but added the firm was not to blame.

"The difficulties have been caused by a number of transport providers notifying us just before the beginning of the new academic year that they were no longer able to deliver transport that they had previously agreed, in writing, to deliver," a spokeswoman said.

The authority said it was investigating and contacting affected parents.

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