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Mothers vow to fight college bus decision

jpco 3-9-14 Cathy Beale and son Lewis (16) Jayne Edwards and her son Nathan (16) and Vikki Budd and son Callum (16) are saying that West Sussex County Council is refusing transport for disabled college students. Pic by Jon Rigby SUS-140828-125134001

jpco 3-9-14 Cathy Beale and son Lewis (16) Jayne Edwards and her son Nathan (16) and Vikki Budd and son Callum (16) are saying that West Sussex County Council is refusing transport for disabled college students. Pic by Jon Rigby SUS-140828-125134001

A mother is at her ‘wit’s end’ over a decision to refuse her disabled son transport to college.

Jayne Edwards was delighted when her 16-year-old son Nathan was offered a place at Northbrook College, Worthing, along with two of his friends.

However, their joy turned to disappointment when they realised West Sussex County Council would not provide transport for the three boys who have just finished at Manor Green, Crawley.

“We are just at our wit’s end now,” said Mrs Edwards, from Kidborough Road, Gossops Green. “We know there are other children on the same course that are getting transport. We feel so strongly about it that we need to fight it all the way.”

Mrs Edwards said the boys decided on Northbrook because it offered a five-day course while Crawley did not.

If transport cannot be arranged the boys will have to take an hour-and-a-half bus journey, accompanied by a parent or carer. “It is just totally unrealistic for these boys to travel on their own,” she said.

Cathy Beale’s son Lewis has type-one diabetes and sometimes suffers fits or blackouts in the morning. She is worried he would be at risk during a long, unsupervised bus journey, especially as his speech problems mean he struggles to communicate.

“If he goes like that when he is on the bus he could just walk off the bus and out on to a busy road,” she said. “His speech gets slurred so people could just look at him and think he is a drunk teenager and not help him. That is the scary thought.”

A spokeswoman for the council said the majority of post-16 students do not receive transport. Some young people with special needs do qualify but must attend the nearest college offering the course. “In these cases, the parents and young people want to attend Northbrook College, some 25 miles away. However we are aware that a similar course is offered locally at Central Sussex College, in Crawley,” she said.

“Both colleges are offering full-time courses. In these circumstances it is not possible for the council to fund taxi transport to a college some 25 miles away when the young people could do a comparable course locally.”

 

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