Bureaucrats refuse girl lift in sister's free taxi

14th February 2003 at 00:00
A NORTH Wales council has refused to let a pupil share the free taxi that takes her sister to school. If she wants a lift, says the authority, she must pay pound;40 a term.

Next September, Fiona Nicholas wants to start at the same secondary as her elder sister, Brenda.

But Flintshire council has refused to let the 10-year-old share the taxi that takes Brenda to Argoed comprehensive, arguing that there is another school nearer to her home. The council agreed to give free transport to Brenda, who has a statement of special needs, after the 13-year-old was bullied at her local comprehensive. As there is no bus covering the four-mile trip, a taxi picks her up each day.

But the Labour-run council will not offer the same service for Fiona, who also has special needs, but no statement. If Fiona is to share the taxi, she must pay pound;40 a term: which her parents, who are on income support, cannot afford.

"The taxi comes for Brenda anyway, and it has spare seats," said Philip Nicholas, the girls' father. "I don't want Fiona to be bullied too. If needs be, I'll keep her off school, and the council will have to supply a home tutor."

Mr Nicholas has written to his local MP, and lodged an appeal with the council. So far, it remains unmoved: "If parents opt for a school other than the nearest to their home, they have to pay for transport," a spokesman said. But, he added that the council would review the unusual case.

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