The council has apologised for its ‘poor handling’ of a child’s school transport arrangements which ‘caused undue stress’ to a mother and daughter.

The girl – anonymised as C – has a complex and rare genetic condition which causes weakness and stiffness especially in the leg muscles.

Reading Borough Council (RBC) changed arrangements for the girl’s transport to school resulting in a journey around 30 mins over the recommended maximum.

A Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) report said the earlier start and longer journey affected C’s ability to learn and her wellbeing.

RBC has agreed to make payments to the mother and daughter to remedy the injustices identified by the ombudsman.

The LGO anonymises individuals involved in all decisions; In this report the daughter is called C and the mother Mrs X.

One of the features of C’s rare genetic condition is extreme tiredness and she uses a wheelchair to get around.

She started attending the unnamed primary school in February 2018 and received free transport to the school, which is three miles from her home; the journey took around 50 to 55 minutes.

A week into the new school term, in August 2018, the council added another child to the journey, giving just a day’s notice to C’s mother.

Government guidance states the maximum each way journey for a child of primary school age should be 45 minutes, but the change took C’s journey time to around 70 to 80 minutes.

The school reported to Mrs X how tired C was and the mother noted C was frustrated and tearful when she got home from school.

The mother and her husband decided to transport C – the anonymised schoolgirl – to school themselves after no resolution could be reached with RBC.

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RBC has now agreed to put in place new transport arrangements for C to split the route and shorten her journey to school, following the ombudsman’s decison.

The local authority will pay C £100 for the impact of the longer journeys and Mrs X £250 for the time and trouble taken pursuing the complaint.

The council will also pay Mrs X £30 for every week she provided transport for C.

School transport services were recently taken over by new council-owned company Brighter Futures for Children.

A council spokesman said: “The company accepted the Local Government Ombudsman’s decision and new transport arrangements were introduced after Easter.

“A revised appeal process has been in place since May and the School Transport Policy has been revised to reflect these changes.

“The decisions are heard by an independent ‎panel with no prior knowledge of the case and greater representation from the applicant is now possible.”