Schools’ out due to taxi company vehicle shock

Lancashire County Hall
Lancashire County Hall
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Around 140 special needs and disabled children could not get to school after a taxi firm’s licences were temporarily suspended.

Urgent talks have been taking place between licensing officers and Leyland-based private hire firm Andrew Wallbank to resolve the situation.

The firm’s licences for the specially-modified vehicles were suspended by issuer South Ribble Council when it failed to produce the relevant documentation as they came up for renewal.

As a result, some 140 SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) pupils had no school transport, mainly in the Preston area, on Thursday and Friday.

No contingency plans could be put in place.

Phil Barrett, director of community services at LCC, said in a statement on Wednesday: “We fully appreciate how inconvenient this is for parents, but we cannot transport children in unlicensed vehicles and due to the specialist nature of these vehicles we cannot use another company at short notice. We’ll continue to work hard to resolve this situation and hope to have a solution in place by the time the children and young people return to school after the Easter holiday.”

A South Ribble Borough Council spokesman said: “We have temporarily suspended the licenses of a number of taxis, which have been modified to allow them to transport disabled passengers, due to an issue with the information needed from the operator to renew the licenses. Our officers are working closely with the affected firm to attempt to resolve the situation. We are sorry for any inconvenience caused, but our priority is public safety and the safety of people being transported in these vehicles.”

Wallbank’s were unavailable for comment.