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Canada Cabs ends Medway Council contract to transport special needs pupils to Elaine Education Centre in Strood

By: Nicola Jordan njordan@thekmgroup.co.uk

Published: 10:41, 10 March 2022

Updated: 10:51, 10 March 2022

A single mum says she may be forced to spend more than £300 a week to send her son to a special needs school after a taxi firm pulled out of its council contract.

Canada Cabs has quit its school-run service to Elaine Education Centre in Strood saying it was a "logistical nightmare".

The taxi firm has ended its contract with Medway Council

The move, which comes into effect tomorrow, leaves the children potentially stranded.

Rainham resident Jade Stevens says she has been quoted £60 a day to ferry her 10 year-old old – who has learning difficulties – by cab to the unit attached to Elaine Primary School.

She said the move affects up to 30 pupils, but Medway Council says the figure is 16.

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The self employed 38-year-old added: "I simply can't afford it."

Jade, who also has a six-year-old daughter, said: "If I home school him, I will not be able to work.

Elaine Primary School, Strood

"If I take him to school I will have to pay £15 to £20 for my daughter's after-school, and then there's the price of fuel.

"Whatever, I will be out of pocket."

Jade, who works from home, added: "He's got so behind because of lockdown. Zoom chats and Google learning don't work with a child with learning difficulties. And I am not a teacher."

She was among parents who received an email from the council's school admissions and transport department on Tuesday, saying the Lordswood-based company had handed in its notice.

The council is currently looking for an alternative provider and has said it will reimburse parents with money for fuel.

Medway Council offices at Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham

Canada Cabs' boss Lorne Brown said his company had been running the service since September and the decision had been taken after a number of issues.

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He said: "It's been a logistical nightmare. We now have more students, different timetables and a shortage of drivers."

Celia Buxton, Medway Council's assistant director for education and SEND, said: “We are working with the school to arrange alternative transport for the 16 pupils. Each child has their own individual needs and we will make sure they are supported on their journeys to and from school.

"We will continue to work with the school to ensure parents and carers are kept updated.”

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