Special educational needs school transport firm to resume county council contract

Thanet Community Transport Association

Kent County Council transport  services for children with special educational needs will carry out a review of the way it operates.

The review comes after parents were left in panic last month when their children 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 were completed late after Airport Connections and other businesses stepped in to help.

Parents said they were not notified of the contract suspension by the authority, giving them no time to make alternative arrangements.

The operational issues prompting the suspension are believed to be connected with section 19 permits needed for the use of vehicles by educational bodies that operate vehicles without a view to profit.

A letter of apology has been sent to parents by the county council’s client transport manager saying: “Due to the very short notice afforded to the council, officers were unfortunately not able to contact you directly. I do however appreciate that while efforts were focused on making alternative arrangements you should have been informed of the changes.”

The letter adds: “We are reviewing our practices to prevent this occurring in the future.”

Thanet Community Transport Association will resume the contract on Tuesday (April 23).

A spokesperson for the firm said: “We would like to say how sorry we were for having to suspend transport at very short notice. This was out of our control but has been resolved and we look forward to seeing all our regulars and new clients from Tuesday.”

Permits- an explanation

In the UK, most organisations that take payment in return for carrying passengers in a vehicle adapted to carry more than 8 passengers will need a full Public Service Vehicle (PSV) Operator’s Licence.

There are a small number of exceptions to the requirement to hold a full PSV Operator’s Licence. One of these exceptions applies to not-for-profit organisations concerned with education, religion, social welfare, recreation, or other activities of benefit to the community. This needs a Section 19 Permit.

It is an offence to operate without a relevant Permit or PSV operator’s licence, in circumstances in which one is required.