Alternative plans for hundreds of children with special needs to get to school have been put in place after a transport company went bust.
Croydon Council is ensuring some 250 local children with special educational needs continue to get safely to and from school following the anticipated closure of local transport firm Ruskin Private Hire.
Sutton Council has also said there should be no disruption for 27 children in the borough who used Ruskin transport to get to and from school.
Administrators were appointed last Friday, February 14, after the company fell into major financial difficulty.
Despite some expressions of interest for the business and assets of the company, a solution could not be found and it was announced yesterday Ruskin had been forced to close.
Croydon was one of Ruskin’s largest contracts and the council worked closely with the administrators since the company went into administration.
The council’s priority throughout the administration period – that fell over school half term - has been to minimise any interruption in routine for children who use the service when they return to school on Monday.
Croydon has similar contracts with several other firms and they had been held on standby until it was known for certain that Ruskin Private Hire could not continue as a going concern.
Council staff made contact with as many as possible of Ruskin’s former drivers and the escort staff who look after children whilst they are being transported.
They were given details of the other firms who would be taking over the as the council understood there may be vacancies at those firms and this might help reduce the impact on the children on those routes.
Calls are also being made to every parent with a child likely to be affected so they are clear about what arrangements would be put in place for them.
Sutton Council will be using its other transport providers to take over the work provided by Ruskin.
All of the council’s special educational needs transport contracts are due to be retendered this summer and the council has said it will be seeking to get the best possible prices while at the same time guaranteeing the quality of service provided.
Councillor Tim Pollard, cabinet member for children, families and learning, said: “We were clearly concerned when the news broke Ruskin Private Hire was forced to seek the protection of administration.
However we’d been aware for some time prior to its entering administration of the fact they were facing difficulties, and as a result we had several contingency plans in place. Staff have spent many hours contacting every family with a child on one of the affected routes to make sure they know exactly what is going on.”