Parents left in panic as special educational needs school transport suddenly suspended

Thanet Community Transport Association

Parents were left in panic last Wednesday after their children with special educational needs were stranded without transport due to services being suddenly suspended.

Youngsters at Laleham Gap in Ramsgate and St Nicholas School in Canterbury were among those affected when Thanet Community Transport Association had to call a sudden halt to its pick ups.

The runs, which are under contract with Kent County Council, were completed late after Airport Connections stepped in to help.

‘Sheer panic’

One isle parent, who asked not to be named, said: “Parents were left waiting for 45 minutes at drop off points with no information on where their children were. It was very scary.

“I contacted my son’s bus escort after waiting over half an hour. When I asked if everything was OK she replied: ‘yes thanks. How did (your son) get home?’ I was in sheer panic, As far as I had been aware he was on the bus with her.

“Kent County Council didn’t tell us about a change in provider, even if it was temporary.

“Many kids were not picked up the following morning either. I rang to complain and they (KCC) told me they were too busy to phone parents on the afternoon itself.

“I don’t care how busy they were, the chaos they caused was inexcusable. When you don’t know where your child – vulnerable with additional needs – is for 45 minutes ‘we were busy’ doesn’t really cut it.

“Someone should have informed parents.”

Parents say they were told Kent County Council had put an immediate stop to the contract but the authority says it has not been cancelled and ‘operational issues’ caused the service to be suspended at short notice.

‘Short notice’

A KCC spokesman said: “On Wednesday, the operator of a number of services into these schools informed KCC that due to an operational reason, they would not be able to operate a number of services, from that afternoon.

“At short notice KCC procured alternative transport and informed the schools accordingly.

“Unfortunately, the short term nature of the cover did mean that some services operated late and nor were we able to contact parents.

“The alternative arrangements will stay in place until the operational issue is resolved and the normal operator can resume these services.  We expect normal operation to be restored in the coming weeks.”

Resolving issues

A spokesman for Thanet Community Transport Association said work is taking place and they hope the problem will be resolved by the end of the week.

They added: “ Due to unforeseen circumstances Thanet Community Transport have suspended transport services. We are working with Kent County Council to get this matter resolved as soon as possible. Thanet Community Transport are committed to our passengers and serving those in our community who rely on us and the services we run.”

It is understood that Airport Connections are covering approximately 15 routes.

The reason for the operational issue is not clear.


    • my 2 kids transport comes from Thanet to Folkestone to pick them up & 1 other child here then back to collect other kids in Dover areas,4 of which go to the secondary school in Whitfield & 1 to the primary school in Whitfield any holds ups causes them to be late which in turn they get a late mark last year when the Beast from the East was upon us all the kids were not able to attend school for a week despite the schools being open because Thanet had a severe amount of snow resulting in the transport not able to pick up kids so their attendance dropped by 10% that term & all yo save a few pence by KCC

  1. Strange that the service was pulled on the same week KCC were checking vehicles for compliance in the School grounds.

    KCC should be pressed for the details of this operational issue on the grounds of public safety

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