VULNERABLE children with special needs are facing an “unprecedented” crisis with transport to their schools, a council has admitted.

A Brighton and Hove City Council memo seen by the Argus said parents and pupils were in distress because of disruption to council-run school transport.

Parents have claimed that taxi drivers contracted to take their children to school are not equipped to properly care for them.

Rob Arbery, head governor at Hill Park Special School in Portslade, called the crisis an “accident waiting to happen”.

Parents and councillors claim there has been problems which stem from the city council’s process for awarding school transport contracts.

After the previous contracts expired in August, the council awarded school routes to different companies, none of which have been identified.

But according to the council memo a number of contractors withdrew at the last minute, leading to the current crisis.

Now parents claim some children have been stranded with no lift home, others have run away, and some have even been dropped off at the wrong address.

They claim some of the providers in place are unsuitable as cars do not have CCTV and drivers are not always medically-trained.

Parent Sharon Nealgrove said her 15-year-old epileptic daughter Annie was in danger as the driver trusted with bringing her to Downs View school did not know of her condition.

Ms Nealgrove said her daughter was so anxious at one point she had to stay at home.

“Last week I had to keep her home because she was so anxious and crying because she was saying she had to go with a stranger,” she said.

“We’re busy teaching her not to go with strangers and at the same time this is a stranger picking her up.

“She can be aggressive and run off, especially if she is very anxious as she will go into fight or flight mode.

“This is very concerning for my child and the other children she is travelling with.”

Hill Park school governor Mr Arbery said he was aware of children with special needs harming themselves because they were in distress.

“The council promised that every child who received home to school transport last year would receive it this year, but there are currently 30 children in the city who are not receiving it,” he said.

“One child escaped a taxi.

“There are children in wheelchairs with cars that aren’t big enough to fit them in.

“I don’t blame the drivers.

"They don’t know what they’ve got themselves into. It is totally shambolic.” Conservative city councillors Lee Wares and Mary Mears have called for an investigation into the issue after witnessing children banging their heads in distress.

In a letter to council chief executive Geoff Raw, Cllr Wares said the “lives, mental and physical wellbeing, and safeguarding” of children is at risk.

“We have seen children screaming, shouting and banging their heads on windows and equipment,” he wrote.

“We have a duty to ensure children and vulnerable adults are properly looked after and catered for.” Councillors will discuss the issue in a Monday meeting as an emergency item. Meanwhile council chiefs said they hoped to solve the issue in four weeks.

Labour councillor Kate Knight, deputy chairwoman of the children’s young people, and skills committee, apologised and said she shared the concerns of parents.

“The safety of our children will always be our top priority,” she said.

“I am shocked and disappointed that so many of our contractors withdrew at the last minute from the vital services they had agreed, in writing, to deliver.

“Given that these contracts directly involve some of the most vulnerable members of our community, we will certainly be investigating urgently and forensically what has happened. “I’m really sorry for the distress the current situation is causing local families.

“In operational terms, I want to give my assurance that everyone involved is working flat out to turn things round.”

Cllr Knight said the problem would be addressed in Monday’s committee meeting.

She said: “We have no hesitation whatsoever in departing from our normal committee procedures at this late stage in order to allow a discussion of the concerns Cllr Wares has raised.

“This will take place at our children, young people and skills committee on Monday.

“We very much value the work our Parent and Carers Council does with us on improving service delivery.

“We are committed to working in partnership with them and other interested parties to improve the situation for families who have been affected, as soon as possible.

“Everyone affected needs to have their voices heard. As an administration we will commit to ensuring that this happens. “We will be updating the meeting of the committee on Monday on the progress we have made on this.”

The Argus contacted Edge Public Solutions, brought in by the council to agree contracts ahead of August, but the company told us to contact the council.