Council claims IT switchover has left some disabled Northants children without school transport

The county council has apologised after its move to a new 'tracking' system has left several children with disabilities without a taxi to school this term.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 6th September 2016, 5:59 pm
Updated Friday, 9th September 2016, 11:09 am
The county council has blamed an IT switchover for the school transport problems.
The county council has blamed an IT switchover for the school transport problems.

The authority’s home to school transport system is available to a range of children, including those with severe medical or physical conditions, or under eights those who live further than two miles from their nearest linked school.

Effectively the service sees taxi providers contracted to take youngsters to and from their schools every day.

But several people have contacted the Chron to complain that their taxis have either not arrived, turned up too late or too early since the start of term on Monday. Parents were not informed about the cancelled or rescheduled service.

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Everyone who got in touch with the Chron also said they were left listening to an engaged tone when they called the council - or found their call was left to ring out.

Northamptonshire County Council has now apologised for the issues, claiming a switchover to a new IT system that allows live GPS tracking of the cars is to blame.

A spokesman said: “Our school transport team works incredibly hard to plan journeys for 11,000 students each day during the school term.

“A new system has been introduced that will allow for live tracking of our fleet and the external operators we use and, as with the introduction of any new system on this scale, we regret that there have been some issues.

“We also apologise that some parents have had difficulties contacting us due to the high number of calls received over the past few days.

“Our priority is the safe transport of all school pupils and the vast majority have experienced a good service at the start of the new school year. We are now working hard to resolve any outstanding issues.”

Some parents say the lack of transport has been very distressing.

“Our children have a range of disabilities, and it’s stressful enough for us as parents, to entrust people we ultimately do not know, to take our children away each morning,” said one mum. “This year has been the worse year on record for the transport department messing up with the children’s transport.

“They haven’t notified some parents of who are collecting their children, when you try to ring to get answers, it’s either constantly engaged, they suddenly cut you off, or fob you off.”