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'I am giving my son to people I don't know' - parents' fears over taxi firms sub-contracting school runs

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:22 04 May 2019

Julian Coates is concerned William's school transport is causing him unnecessary stress  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Julian Coates is concerned William's school transport is causing him unnecessary stress Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Concerns have been raised about how children with special needs can be taken to school by taxi companies that sub-contract all of their work to self-employed drivers.

William Coates with his dad Julian  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNWilliam Coates with his dad Julian Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk County Council has said that companies taking children to school should sub-contract their work “only in emergency situations”.

But Quick Cab Services Ltd. in Ipswich uses self-employed drivers to carry out its work, with some parents concerned they have less knowledge about who is responsible for their children's transport.

A council spokesman reassured parents that every transport operator it works with is licensed – and that those operators only use licensed drivers.

But Julian Coates, whose four-year-old son William is among the youngest children at Hillside Special School in Sudbury, said: “I am giving my son to people I don't know. I am giving them my pride and joy – I worship the ground he walks on.

Julian Coates with his son William  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNJulian Coates with his son William Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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“If anything happens, who do I blame? If you are going to take responsibility, you should drive that taxi. So when I have a problem I know who I am talking to.”

Mr Coates said he would prefer William to be looked after by a company with a fleet of cabs – as he feels there would be more clear and consistent contact between parent and driver.

“I am going by somebody else telling me something,” he said.

“I don't know what's going on. It needs a common sense approach to this.”

Mr Coates said he was already frustrated with his son's transport situation, as William's daily three-hour round trip frequently leaves him exhausted.

A council spokesman said: “Whilst we do not comment on individual cases, we can reassure parents that every transport operator we work with is licenced and uses licenced drivers who are also registered with Suffolk County Council.”

Quick Cab Services Ltd. has been contacted for comment.

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