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Father attacks ‘illegal policy’ after winning free bus appeal

By Eleanor Perkins

Aidan Shanks, 46, of Church Street, Eastry, says Kent County Council has a legal obligation to provide youngsters in the village free transport to school because there is not a safe walking route.

But instead, he claims the authority is sending out letters saying children aren’t eligible, but giving in when people appeal.

Aidan Shanks of Eastry who is questioning the KCC's policy regarding free transport to school

Aidan Shanks of Eastry who is questioning the KCC's policy regarding free transport to school

He said: “If I didn’t have another child already going to the Sir Roger Manwood’s School I wouldn’t do anything about it, I’d just accept it, but it’s nonsense.

“KCC fair access department – which I think is a very inappropriate name – wrote to us in August saying because she is going to the grammar school, not the secondary, she cannot have free transport.

“I phoned them up and explained my daughter’s legal right to get a free bus to school. I was put up the line to the supervisor and manager because they refused to acknowledge their duty.

“It appears there’s a blanket approach in Eastry that they’re not giving out transport, but after long and difficult conversations they eventually give in.”

The gov.uk website states: “If there’s no safe walking route, they [the child under 16] must be given free transport, however far from school they live.”

“This poses some serious questions. What is KCC doing by following a policy that is clearly illegal?” - Aidan Shanks

Mr Shanks added: “There is not a safe walking route from Eastry therefore the council is obliged to provide it.”

He fears other families are being told they are not entitled to the free transport and are not appealing.

“It’s increasing the burden on their parents,” he said.

“This poses some serious questions. What is KCC doing by following a policy that is clearly illegal?”

He is now encouraging all parents who have had their application rejected to re-apply if they think it should have been accepted.

Kent County Council has been approached to comment but had not responded by the time of going to press.

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