A DISABLED teenager has started college following a council U-turn over funding for his transport.

Michael Gardiner, 19, was due to start at Southend Adult Community College last week following a year of meetings about how to get him there.

The teenager has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and is confined to a wheelchair requiring round the clock one-to-one care.

Essex County Council’s adult social care transport services were unable to provide transport from Michael’s Canvey home due to other funding he already receives.

A week on, and following pressure from Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris, Michael’s social worker and his family, cash has been provided to pay for a bus to take him to and from the college.

Dad Perry Gardiner, 53, of Long Road, said: “It’s a shame it’s taken us so long to get to this stage and the amount of trauma and stress it has caused, but we are really pleased it has been sorted.

The adult social care transport service is paying for it through its budget and Michael has now started at college.”

Michael will attend the college for the next three years with his transport guaranteed until at least Christmas.

Mr Gardiner said: “Hopefully now it’s all been sorted, next year we won’t have to go through all of this and it will just be a box ticking exercise and he can go.”

The family said unless funding became available they had no way of getting Michael to college due to Perry working full-time and mum and carer Diane, 50, unable to drive.

Dick Madden, county councillor for adults and children, said: “Each request for transport is assessed individually and in accordance with our policies.

“Having taken into consideration the individual circumstances in this case, we have worked hard to seek alternative transport options to support Michael’s aspirations.

“We remain committed to providing support to those in the community in the county who need it most.”