COUNTY transport chiefs have performed a U-turn on a new policy which resulted in a number of teenagers with disabilities being refused transport to college.

Hampshire County Council told 30 families that the authority would not be providing their teenagers transport to and from college as of September, following a change in its transport policy.

But the authority has now backtracked and agreed to withdraw the new policy, after families contacted a legal firm and threatened the council with legal action.

The authority says it will now apply its previous policy for post-16 transport.

The council’s decision has sparked “relief” from family members of the more than 20 disabled children who were set to be affected by the changes.

One mum, who did not want to be named, said: “Going to college is so important to my son and we were devastated when we were told no transport support would be provided.

“News of this U-turn has been a huge relief and means we are all looking more positively to the coming months.”

Legal firm Irwin Mitchell say they were instructed by ten families, and contacted by more than 20 other families, after the council told them their children would need to attend college to access educational support, but then refused to help with their transport to and from college.

All of the students have special educational needs and are not able to use public transport.

Some of the youngsters had previously been provided with transport under Hampshire County Council’s post-16 transport policy for 2018/19 – only to be told that was not the case.

Alice Cullingworth, the specialist public lawyer at Irwin Mitchell’s Southampton representing the families, said: “This has been a very emotional time for the families we represent.

“While we recognise that local government across the UK is facing difficult times at the moment, it is welcome to see that the council has changed its position and reconsidered its post-16 transport policy.”

A Hampshire County Council spokesperson said: “A policy that was in place for post 16 transport for young people with special educational needs for the 2019/20 academic year, has been withdrawn and we are applying the previous policy.”