PARENTS have shared their anger over proposed changes to a transport service for children with learning or physical disabilities.

Last week, the Echo reported that Southend Council signed a contract for a joint venture partnership with London Hire Community Services to ferry adults and children around the borough.

The council insisted the deal - worth £1.8million - would not result in any major disruption but warned changes could follow.

However, parents say the plans could have a devastating impact on their families.

Jennie Spendiff-Smith, 35, from Westcliff, whose son Elijah will be affected, said: “The council clearly has not thought about the negative impact this will have on children and the knock-on effect it will have on their families. Just the smallest change can cause severe distress, anxiety, mess with sleep patterns, appetite and have a negative impact on their learning.

“Our eight-year-old son has autism, ADHD and sleep onset insomnia, eating issues and anxiety.

“He is incredibly anxious around other children and this resulted in deep set phobias of some.

“His current driver and PA have been absolutely fantastic. He feels safe with them and it has taken months to get him to that point.

“We are very angry at this decision and very much doubt our son will cope with this.”

Southend campaigner Colin Nickless, whose seven-year-old daughter with autism, ADHD and cystic fibrosis, labelled a lack of consultation as “horrifying”.

Mr Nickless, whose daughter has autism, ADHD and cystic fibrosis, added: “The council say they consulted parents in 2017 but that was before I’d moved to the area - I think people are frustrated with the lack of information.”

Simon Leftley, deputy chief executive for people, said: “To be clear and to reassure parents and carers, our statutory duty to provide home to school transport is not changing, just the management of the provision.

“We are still very early in the process of changing provider and there will be no changes to the current arrangements until January 2020 at the earliest.

“We understand the needs of all of the passengers who use our services and will minimise the amount of change to the existing service, and give plenty of notice of unavoidable change.

“We have written to all users, carers and the services they use, to keep them informed and we are currently planning multiple engagement events.”

so anyone with any questions or concerns can speak directly with us and London Hire Community Transport.”