A motion urging Havering Council to halt its plans for school transport cuts for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has been filed.

Havering Conservatives announced today (January 4) that they are calling on the cabinet to not proceed with the changes proposed for the Home to School Transport scheme for SEND students.

The motion claims the changes would “have a detrimental impact on both the children and parents, causing them increased stress and anxiety”.

A consultation was launched by Havering Council on October 12 last year to review the policy, inviting parents and stakeholders to share their views.

The council said at the time that around 600 children and young people aged up to 25 currently receive transport assistance including taxi services, but the costs for these services have been soaring.

Romford Recorder: Cllr David Taylor is unhappy with the planned changes to SEND school transportCllr David Taylor is unhappy with the planned changes to SEND school transport (Image: David Taylor)

In some cases, the council claimed, it has costed them £200 a day per child, leading to £5.5 million being spent on travel to school. This is reportedly double the council’s initial budget of £2.7 million.  

With the proposed changes, the council said it hopes to secure a saving of £1.4m in the next four years.

Read More: Havering parents protest against planned SEND funding cuts

The plans come amidst the authority's financial crisis, which sees it facing a multi-million pound overspend and the possible threat of effectively declaring itself bankrupt.

The proposed changes triggered a November protest by some parents of SEND children, who said they were concerned about the cuts to specialist schools by encouraging car sharing or taking ride-share taxis such as Uber.

Tory councillor David Taylor, of St Edwards ward, called the proposed changes “dangerous” and claimed they would “prove a disaster for both the children and parents”.

He said: “The proposal places a new burden onto parents, requiring them to manage a complex budget whilst providing high-level care to their children."

Responding to the announcement of the Havering Conservatives' motion, council leader Ray Morgon told the Recorder that the council is still going through the responses received in the consultation.

He said: “We haven’t made any decision in terms of any changes that we are going to make yet."

Romford Recorder: Cllr Ray MorgonCllr Ray Morgon (Image: Havering Council)

One of the key things, he added, is the council’s financial situation and its need to look at every area for efficiency savings.

He continued: “But we have not formally decided on the proposals. We have only done a consultation with users and public for their views.

"Once we have digested all their views and made all considerations including wider budget considerations, we will make decisions accordingly.”

The motion is expected to be debated at a full council meeting on January 17.

One Havering mother, Liz Cole, whose four-year-old son is autistic and non-verbal, previously told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that the council “seem to be determined to save money” and are “taking advantage of a group that can’t speak for themselves".

But Cllr Oscar Ford, cabinet member for children and young people, had clarified that “each person will be treated and assessed on an individual basis taking into consideration their needs and abilities; there will not be a one-size-fits-all-approach".