A BUCKS girl with “severe learning difficulties” who is entitled to free home-to-school transport from the council did not receive the support for months.

This comes despite Buckinghamshire County Council admitting it made “unacceptable” mistakes in allowing the girl’s family to go without the transport for a “long period of time.”

The family will get a payout from the new Buckinghamshire Council after a recently published report from the Local Government Ombudsman watchdog slammed the authority for failing to take action.

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In September 2018 Buckinghamshire County Council — which is now defunct — cancelled her access to transport after she kept escaping from a harness which is meant to keep her safe.

The problems continued after home-to-school contractors kept withdrawing their support for the girl because of safety concerns.

Her mother had to take her to school herself for much of the 2018/2019 academic year.

Bucks Free Press:

She complained to the council in February 2019 and two months later the authority accepted it should have been providing free home-to-school transport for her daughter, saying it was “unacceptable” it had not been “for such a long period of time.”

But in July 2019 the arrangements the council put in place following the complaint broke down.

A row broke out around this time when the mother and the council could not agree on the secondary school her daughter should attend due to the issues surrounding home-to-school transport.

Only by December 2019 was it ruled the girl should go to school at a residential special school.

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The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) asked the council why the arrangements had broken down and bosses from the authority said they believed they did ‘all they could’ to meet their duty to provide transport following ‘an escalation in [the girl’s] poor behaviour’.

Bucks Free Press:

But this explanation did not sit well with the LGO as the watchdog rapped the authority for failing to provide transport as this was indeed their responsibility, and slammed the council for its “insensitive and unfair” criticism of the girl’s “poor behaviour”.

The mother was caused “injustice” by the council’s actions and the authority has been ordered to pay her £750 in compensation.

David Martin, Cabinet Member for Logistics at Buckinghamshire Council, said: “The level of service the council provided to this family was not acceptable and I apologise unreservedly.

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“The council has accepted the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman’s findings and has made full payment in accordance with the Ombudsman’s recommendation and is working to secure appropriate transport provision for this child.

“The council has commenced a detailed and far-reaching improvement programme encompassing all aspects of school and client transport, designed to ensure a safe and reliable service for all of our users.”