Wiltshire Council is planning to buy more taxis for children with special needs and disabilities.

There has been a reported shortage of taxis for taking SEND children to school since November last year - but the council is now planning to buy more.

Cabinet member for transport Caroline Thomas said: “Unfortunately there are currently insufficient taxi drivers to meet all of our SEND home to school transport commitments.

“To address this, we are providing additional vehicles and employing drivers directly to operate them.

“This will enable us to provide our statutory duty to provide free home to school transport for those who are entitled.”

Head of passeneger transport Jason Salter was recorded in the minutes of a meeting of Wiltshire Council in December as saying: “There are currently five to six students without transport to education settings due to a lack of drivers/licenced vehicles.

“There were also as number of parents receiving a rate of pay to transport their own children to school that are entitled to free transport.”

The minutes add: “Jason Salter reported that they were looking at a blend of different things to help including buying larger vehicles that could carry eight passengers as that would release the capacity from smaller taxis.

“There were a large number of taxis that were currently only transporting only one person and they would look into this further to see if there was an opportunity to offer parents to transport their child which would release those taxis back into the market.”

This follows a national fall in the numbers of taxi drivers and vehicles.

Previously the council said it would put temporary measures in to solve the problem.

On December 5 the now-former cabinet member for transport Cllr Dr Mark McClelland said in a statement: “We have had to put temporary arrangements in place such as doubling up on runs, reduced pupil timetables or paying parents to take them.

“In Wiltshire there was a shortage of taxi drivers to fulfil our SEND school contracts before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic hit the taxi industry very hard, and all local authorities have seen reducing driver numbers due to drivers switching to doing other driving and delivery jobs.”

But he added: “We launched a recruitment campaign to support local taxi companies.

“The results of this are starting to feed through and we currently only have a small number of SEND school transport contracts unfilled.”