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School taxis for Medway's special needs kids axed

Special needs children are saying goodbye to the days of free taxi rides under sweeping new rules on how they get to school.

Medway councillor Mike O'Brien
Medway councillor Mike O'Brien

Councillors approved changes designed to help shave almost £1million off the school transport budget.

Chiefs have long said giving children daily taxi rides to school was too generous, too costly and children should be more independent.

But they had to scale back the cuts they originally proposed after comments from 136 parents.

They had planned to make pupils attend pick-up points a mile from their homes but this was slashed to half a mile after an outcry.

And a clause which would only allow pupils to go to one address was criticised by divorced parents.

Cllr Mike O’Brien (Con), pictured, said: "The previous policy was written in 2003 and is quite frankly out of date."

Medway Parents and Carers Forum chairman Keith Clear said: "We had a very, very good response and organised question and answer sessions with council officers.

"They have clearly listened to some of the arguments that have been put across."

However, Mr Clear said he would still be challenging pick-up points, adding: "There are some ongoing issues with parents whose children have mobility issues and struggle to walk 200 yards, let alone half a mile."

Under the new policy, due to take effect fully by January, taxi rides will still be allowed but only for the most desperately needy children.

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