Controversial plans to introduce transport charges for special needs students in Bromley have been axed.

Proposals had been tabled which could have seen transport costs for special educational needs and disabled students aged 16 and above brought in – forcing families to fork out at least £400 a year.

But draft plans from the council have been dropped, meaning transport remains free for students who qualify.

Council documents from last week’s Children, Education and Families Scrutiny Committee show transport cost hikes was one of the initiatives being considered to raise funds.

SEND students aged 16 and older faced paying £400 a year for travel, while SEND students aged 19 and older would have had to pay £600.

Those on low income may have only had to pay £300.

Council officers believe around £40k a year could have been raised if the change was implemented.

The policy change would have affected around 100 pupils who the council provides hired transport for, according to local authority documents.

Opposition Labour, which rejected the plan, says their intervention triggered the change, but the Conservatives insist their chair of the committee, Cllr Kira Gabbert, was key in getting the policy dropped before it came to council.

Labour councillor Rebecca Wiffen, who sits on the committee, said: “We are pleased the council withdrew charges for SEND transport after

Labour intervened. These charges would have been imposed from September – at a time that families were facing an even greater squeeze from the cost-of-living crisis.”

Labour claiming it was their intervention which led to the policy being removed has angered Tory councillors.

Responding to Cllr Wiffen’s Twitter video, the Conservative’s Kate Lymer tweeted: “Hi Rebecca, that is really interesting to watch, bit of a shame that isn’t what happened though.

"The Chief Officer told you that the policies were withdrawn based on earlier contact with the Chairman of the PDS.

"Why are you trying to claim credit for something you didn’t do?”

Bromley Council has been contacted for further comment.

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