Irwin Mitchell Instructed By Family Of Markfield Teenager Affected By Changes
The family of a Leicestershire teenager with special educational needs are taking their challenge against a council’s school transport policy to the Court of Appeal.
Leicestershire County Council announced in March 2018 that it was amending its services by removing transport for eligible children aged between 16 and 18. Instead, it would provide payments so that families could arrange their own travel, which in most cases will not cover the total cost of the transport.
The plans, which were due to be implemented in September 2019 but have been ‘paused’ until September 2020, will also remove discounts on some transport support. This will leave many families having to make their own contribution towards it.
Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Public Law and Human Rights team has been instructed by the family of 17-year-old Kirstine Drexler to challenge the change in policy. However, at a hearing in April a High Court judge sided with the Council and did not allow the family’s application.
The legal experts lodged an application to appeal the High Court’s decision. They have now been granted permission to take the family’s case to the Court of Appeal. The two-day hearing will take place on 20 and 21 February 2020 at the Royal Courts of Justice.
Expert Opinion“Throughout this process the family have been very concerned about how these changes would affect Kirstine and many other young people across the region. Access to transport is often key in ensuring young people with a range of complex needs can have the education they deserve.
It is welcome that we have now been given an opportunity to once again put the view of Kirstine and her family forward and ensure that their voices are heard on this matter.
This family would rather not be in this position, and we once again encourage the local authority to work with families to rethink these changes.”
Steven Baylis - Senior Associate
Kirstine is severely disabled and she has made use of the transport services provided by the council to make the 26-mile round trip from her home in Markfield to her school.
Her father Stefan, 60, said: “We have always been hugely appreciative of the bus service and the massive difference it has made to Kirstine’s life. The transport is genuinely a major highlight of her day and those who use it have become a little community of close friends. To say it would be missed would be an understatement.
“However, it offers a clear logistical benefit too, as the transport helps with our day-to-day lives. It could take us as a family around three hours a day to make the journey, which would leave us even more stretched than we already are.
“Being granted permission to continue this case is a massive step forward. We are determined to keep fighting on this issue and would urge the council to rethink the changes as soon as possible. Doing so could make a major difference to thousands of lives.”