DISABLED children face long taxi journeys to school as some vulnerable children are forced to travel up to 43 miles every morning.

One girl with special education needs had to travel from her home in Froxfield, to Burbage, Tidworth and Pewsey to pick up other pupils before finally reaching Rowdeford School in Devizes. The journey can take up to one hour and 50 minutes each way.

Speaking at a full council meeting, parent Jo Waltham said: “Special educational needs children may suffer anxiety, sensory processing disorders or may not be fully toilet trained so a journey time of that length is intolerable.” Mrs Waltham called on the council to ensure that all journey times meet the Department for Education limit of one hour and 15 minutes per day.

Responding, Cllr Laura Mayes said: “We would never want a child to travel further than 75 minutes. We look at every journey a child takes and make sure it is the most efficient. If it is not acceptable for a child we will make those changes.” A Council spokesman said: “We are always seeking to minimise travel times where possible and this has been a key consideration in our review into special school provision which we will be reporting on later this year.”

The council has a £36m budget for SEND services and is expected to over spend by £1m by the end of the financial year.

Following the meeting Mrs Waltham, who has a SEN child and lives in east Marlborough, said: “I didn’t really feel reassured by the council, some children are in a five-point harness for the drive and so by the time they get to school they are not in the right frame of mind. Life with a special educational needs child can very challenging anyway and this just adds to the stress for parents. I know that the child in Froxfield now has her travel sorted, but it should never have happened.”

Karen Parsons, of Cotswold Close, Calne, is the mother of Theo, 11, who attends Rowdeford School and was originally told Theo must share a taxi, despite needing a private carer due to the fits that he suffers. The council later provided him with a separate taxi service.

She said: “People forget that these children are vulnerable and will never be the same as other children. My 10-year-old walks to school on his own but my 11-year-old will never be able to do this.“Our problem is all sorted now, but the point is that it should never have happened in the first place at a time which is already stressful and causes undue stress. The school told me that it was fundamental that Theo went to school from day one to interact with his classmates. “These children are already vulnerable and to put them in a position in a bus for that length of time that probably doesn’t have any toilets or food means by the time they get to school, the council has set them up to fail. It is detrimental to the children and it focuses on costs more then children.”