FENLAND: Residents reveal anger over taxi company, once used by council for school contracts

PUBLISHED: 18:22 29 May 2008 | UPDATED: 08:29 02 June 2010

joshua hislop and claire mcPherson

joshua hislop and claire mcPherson

EXCLUSIVE by MAGGIE GIBSON AN angry mother says she is appalled that Cambridgeshire County Council continued to use a taxi company for school contracts after serious complaints had been made against the firm. Last week, an immediate investigation was laun

EXCLUSIVE by MAGGIE GIBSON

AN angry mother says she is appalled that Cambridgeshire County Council continued to use a taxi company for school contracts after serious complaints had been made against the firm.

Last week, an immediate investigation was launched after the Cambs Times uncovered possible abuse of rules by Fenland taxi companies with school contracts.

But after reading our story, Claire McPherson claimed: "It was a scandal that it was allowed to go on and justice has got to be done.

"It is outrageous that these people were supposed to be looking after our children and they have failed in their duty of care.

Ms McPherson's son, 11-year-old Joshua, who is autistic, needed a taxi service to pick him up from his Wimblington home and transport him to an educational unit in March.

But a catalogue of problems with Angel Travel, the company previously highlighted in this newspaper, led her to complain to Cambridgeshire County Council. Joshua's trips were transferred to another taxi company but the council continued to use Angel Travel for other youngsters.

Ms McPherson claims the taxis were often late, Joshua was dropped off at the wrong place, he was not made to wear a seat belt, he was allowed to travel in the front seat and one occasion returned home with a bruised leg saying he had been grabbed by the taxi driver.

She said: "The Access to Learning team telephoned me and said there had been an incident but Joshua had told me because although he has the mind of a five-year-old he always tells me what happens, whether it is good or bad.

She said: "The taxis we have now are very good but this is always in the back of my mind. I did not even receive a letter of apology, it is disgraceful and disgusting. I am appalled that this taxi firm was still being used and it is a scandal which should not have been allowed to happen."

A second parent, who did not wish to be named, told the Cambs Times he was shocked to see his son being carried in a private car by Angel Travel. The 16-year-old was then allowed to fill it up with petrol, it has been claimed.

The arrangement was that the teenager should be picked up from his home in Friday Bridge and taken to the educational unit in Burrowmoor Road, March. But the father says he spotted his son at a garage in Whittlesey by chance as he was passing in his own car.

He said: What kind of taxi company kidnaps your child? Children are the most precious things we have and to have this happen is just unbelievable. I was just gobsmacked."

He told the county council that he was unhappy with the company and had seen its taxis speeding on several occasions. He had also been forced to leave a funeral after receiving calls from education staff saying that his son needing picking up.

He said: "We have Dart Taxis now and they have been brilliant."

The Cambs Times has also been contacted by other parents who did not wish to be named but have expressed concerns about Angel Travel including issues on speeding and the use of private cars.

To date the Cambs Times has been unable to contact Angel Travel to get its side of the story.


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