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(UK) Cheshire: Council to cut SPED transportation; $1.1K cost to families

Mar 25, 2024, Mum fears £900 [$1.1K]-a-year transport costs will prevent 'thriving' son attending special school

'I cannot afford this', Julie Fletcher told Cheshire Live as she labelled Cheshire East Council's price hike as 'ludicrous'

The worried mum of an autistic child admits she can't look him in the eye amid fears he won't be able to continue attending his special school due to what she's labelled a "ludicrous" rise in school transport charges.

From September this yearMacclesfield resident Julie Fletcher will have to fork out £900 a year to help cover the cost of her son Kieron's taxi to and from school. Cash-strapped Cheshire East Council has doubled the contribution charge for providing transport for young people aged 16 and over.

Kieron, who has autism and ADHD as well as suffering with high anxiety, turns 16 next month and Julie - a cleaner at Macclesfield Hospital - does not know how she's going to find that amount of money. She says her son is "thriving" at his special school, The Meadows in Leek, and wants to move up to the sixth form. . . .

"I honestly don't know what I'm going to do. I fought for him to go to The Meadows in the first place because it's the best place for his needs.

"He thinks he's going into the sixth form. I can't look him in the eye because I don't know what to do. It's such a huge jump. With council tax and this - it's a third of my wage gone.

"He can't use public transport because of the noise. He'd get off immediately because of it and I wouldn't know where he was. He has no sense of danger. We wouldn't have to pay for taxis if we had a special school here in Macclesfield that catered for his needs."

A spokesperson for Cheshire East Council said: "We currently provide school transport for around 3,800 children and young people, and like many other councils are facing unprecedented financial challenges. We recognise that free and subsidised travel assistance to school is a valuable service for many families, but our budget pressures mean that we have had to make difficult decisions about how to make the best use of limited resources.

"Providing transport for young people aged 16+, including those with special needs is a discretionary service with a significant cost to the council – estimated to be in excess of £1.3 million [$1.6M] this financial year. Cheshire East Council, like other councils, has looked at how we can deliver these discretionary services at a lower cost. . . . 




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