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Free legal advice overturns council transport decision

31 July 2015

Law Building sign

A disabled teenager has had a decision which stopped her being provided with free school transport overturned thanks to free legal support she received from law students at Cardiff University

A local authority in the south of England took the decision to stop providing school transport for 15-year-old Robyn, who has global learning delay and autistic traits, last year on the grounds that the family lived within walking distance of her school.

The Council had decided that it was reasonable to expect parents who have a car to transport their child to school and that there were no exceptional reasons to deviate from policy.

Despite Robyn’s parents appealing the decision twice, the Council stood by its original decision, leading the family to contact international children’s charity Cerebra for assistance.

Cerebra signposted the family to the Legal Entitlements Research Project it jointly runs with Cardiff University. The project is aimed at families with disabled children who have experienced difficulty accessing services such as health care, social care or education support.

The project looked at Robyn’s case and explained that local authorities are duty bound to provide transport for ‘eligible’ pupils, which includes children who cannot reasonably be expected to walk to school because of mobility problems or health and safety issues related to their special educational needs or disability.

As the Council had accepted that Robyn was unable to walk and needed to be transported, it was clear that she was in fact eligible for the school transport. The Project advised  Robyn’s parents to ask for a review of the school transport decision.

Welcoming the decision, Robyn’s father Alan said: “It was fantastic news. The floodgates then seemed to open for the other pupils who had their transport removed and now they all seem to have had their decision changed. I am hugely grateful and it has made life a whole lot better for Robyn and our family.”

The Cerebra Legal Entitlements Research Project is supervised by Professor Luke Clements of Cardiff Law School – who said: “Many families with disabled children have now gained vital help as a result of the project – and we are very thankful to Cerebra and our students for the tremendous support.

“As well as being of huge benefit to the families who need our support, the project also provides law students with practical and first-hand experience of working on real-life cases, so is of huge benefit to students as well as the wider community.”

Legal assistance can be costly and difficult to obtain but the project gives families free access to law students who can advise on rights and ensure that families are aware of the services to which they are entitled.

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