School bus for disabled teenager – Sorted!

By Carole Dennett Sep 19, 2020

A single mother, whose teenage son with cerebral palsy was left without a school bus place, has won her battle with the IW Council and praised the IW Observer for our part in her victory.

Jane Randall, of Freshwater, was stunned last week when she was informed that Jonathan, 17, who uses a wheel chair, could not get on a bus which has taken him to school for the last 13 years. The Isle of Wight Council initially denied him a place because they claimed Jane did not apply for a pass even though it had previously been regularly updated.

Jane said: “Jonathan attends St George’s School, Newport, and when he started 6th form last year, I filled out a form as it was a transition year. However, this term, I was given no notification of a reminder by the Council and the school did not get in touch.
“Jonathan has always had a place on the bus and there has never been a problem. In all my years in contact with a variety of institutions, if anything changes in his circumstances, they will let me know and send a reminder. This never happened in this situation.

“Last week, on his first day back at school, Southern Vectis pulled up at his normal bus stop so they were obviously expecting him on board. However, he has a new motorised wheelchair which requires extra strapping. I informed the Council of this by email on August 19. But Southern Vectis had not been told and could not take him.

“When I got through to the Council later that day, they said he did not have an allocated space on the bus. All the information was there for them. If the bus turned up for him on day one, they were clearly expecting him. “So, last week while I reapplied with no guarantee I was going to be successful, I had to take Jonathan twice a day to Newport. I run a small shop in Yarmouth and with extra staff and petrol, it cost me around £100.

“When I spoke to someone over the phone I was told that I should get a diary and make some notes of the dates I should apply for a pass. It made me feel like an incompetent parent. It was infuriating and condescending. I employ nine staff in the shop and at home, I’m a single mother and I know all about time management. It’s unbelievable how they treated us in the circumstances.

“Thankfully, after I contacted the IW Observer, the Council processed the application and Jonathan was put on the bus as usual this Monday. I even received an email from the Council on Friday afternoon apologising for the distress and inconvenience, which has never happened before. Without you guys, it would not have happened nearly as quickly, if at all, so a heartfelt thank you from Jonathan and myself.”

An Isle of Wight Council spokesman said: “The way applications are managed change when the applicant turns post 16. Whilst the council was notified of a change in circumstances regarding the wheelchair, it could not be processed until an application for transport was submitted. This has now been received.

“It is regretted the bus on the route was unsuitable, but now we have the full facts we are working with Southern Vectis to ensure as soon as possible, a suitable arrangement is provided enabled to accommodate a motorised wheelchair.”