CHILDREN with special needs were left fearing they could not get to school after problems with their transport.

Brighton and Hove City Council organises school transport for these pupils.

But after private tendering deals collapsed, 30 youngsters were left not knowing how they would get to their lessons.

The family of one boy, who was due to start at Hill Park Special School in Portslade yesterday, had been told there was no lift available.

An emergency lift was finally arranged at 10.30pm the night before term started but he did not know how he would get to school again this morning.

His mother told The Argus: “We received confirmation he was eligible for school transport at the end of last term.

“But with just hours to go before he started at his new upper school there was still nothing in place.

“He has complex special needs including dyspraxia and dyslexia. Not knowing how he is getting to school or who is taking him was extremely worrying for him.

“I was faced with the prospect of a six-hour round trip at both ends of the school day to take him there on the buses myself. We were told to expect to hear from the company operating it by August 23.

“When we didn’t hear anything I contacted the company and they told us they had applied for the tender but not been chosen.

“For children with these kinds of needs it is important they feel secure and know what to expect so the last-minute nature of it all causes huge anxiety.”

A spokeswoman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “We are working with the families of 30 pupils at three of our special schools to put in place short-term arrangements for transport while longer term plans can be confirmed with operators.

“We’re very sorry indeed for the situation these families are currently facing, and are grateful for the understanding and flexibility they have shown.

“In the run-up to the start of term we believed we had all the routes agreed. However, some operators who had agreed to take on routes then gave us very late notifications that they wouldn’t be able to do them after all.

“We can state categorically that there are no unlicensed drivers operating our services. If there are any parents who are concerned about their children being distressed as a result of the current situation, we would ask them to contact us as soon as possible so that we can offer them support.”

The changes stemmed from Brighton and Hove City Council introducing a new tendering process in a bid to reduce the cost of home-to-school transport.

Conservatives councillors Lee Wares and Mary Mears have called for an independent audit into the changes, fearing children are being put at risk.

In a letter to council chief executive Geoff Raw, Cllr Wares said they were concerned about “the lack of transparency” and “secrecy” about the process.

Have you been affected by the changes to school transport? Contact or call 01273 021394.