COUNCIL bosses have made a U-turn on their decision to axe transport for disabled students.

It comes after Hampshire County Council was threatened to be taken to court by families who said the change would mean their children could no longer get to college.

The authority told 30 families that as of September, it would no longer provide transport to take their teenagers, who require educational support, to and from college.

But in an unexpected move on Wednesday night, the council decided to reinstate its previous policy.

The decision has been welcomed by Sharon Vaissiere, the mother of 18-year-old Marcus who has severe autism. “It is a great relief,” she said.

Sharon, whose son, has relied on HCC-provided transport to Icknield school since 2016, was initially told that he would no longer receive transport under the new policy.

She appealed the decision on July 5 and shortly before the Advertiser went to press, was told Marcus would receive the transport he required.

Sharon said that Marcus has severe autism and struggles to understand and adjust to change. When he travels to college with his carers, he is fine, but when his routine is interrupted, and he travels with his mother the change can cause him to become aggressive.

She added: “That car doesn’t become a [mode of] transport, it becomes a weapon. Because you’re trying to drive a car with someone having hold of your hair.”

Sharon said the U-turn was a “great relief” but was amongst the families to express frustration that it took the threat of legal action to resolve the situation.

She said: “How can we be happy when we’ve been dragged through this?

“I think when you are talking about having solicitors in to fight, I think it will just be really sad that it came to this.

“To be fighting people that are supposed to be helping and supporting you, who tell you to turn to them, how can you even have that rapport with them?”

David Humphries, a parent who organised a pressure group of parents to bring about a legal challenge, agreed and said it was a shame they had to resort to taking legal action.

“It’s really sad that this needed to happen in the first place, because it shouldn’t have,” he said.

“The long and short of it is, if HCC keep trying to make cuts, they are going to end up putting people into crisis and that will mean them having to provide full time care and all the expenses themselves. So as a long-term strategy it will end up costing them more in the long run.”

Other families have taken to social media, sharing posts on the #NeedsToo Facebook page, expressing both relief at the decision but noting the stress that the process has caused.

David added: “I know how anxious and stressed carers are and it has a real, real impact.”

In a statement, a spokesman for the council said: “Firstly, there has been no withdrawal of service.

“However, we can confirm that a policy, that was in place for post-16 transport for young people with special educational needs for the 2019/20 academic year, has been withdrawn and we are applying the previous policy.

“We are in the process of reviewing the applications requesting transport in September and will be contacting applicants shortly.

“Any changes that may be proposed will be consulted on and published if agreed. All authorities are required to review this policy annually.”

The council’s transport policy for special educational needs students in post-16 education is reviewed annually.