Calls have been made for an urgent inquiry after a government watchdog found Bexley Council failed six times in its duties to provide transport for vulnerable students.

Opposition councillors have called for an immediate probe after the Local Government Ombudsman upheld complaints against the council over its transport policy for special educational needs students to be taken to school.

During 2019, 75 per cent of London cases upheld by the LGO came from Bexley. Labour councillors claim the complaints have not been presented to scrutiny committees, with cabinet member John Fuller “implying there had been no issues” at the most recent meeting.

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In one instance, a mum complained after her son, who has a reduced sense of danger due to autism, dyslexia and dyspraxia, was refused travel assistance.

The council had provided school transport to the student for two years, but refused in 2018, meaning he would have to walk 2.5 miles to school. The mum couldn’t provide transport as she had another two kids, both of which have additional needs too.

In another instance, a 20-year-old with cerebral palsy, who uses a wheelchair and “cannot travel alone”, had his travel assistance taken away.

Another upheld complaint involved a student with ASD, who has no sense of danger, having his transport removed, meaning he would have to walk home alone.

All watchdog findings were made this year between January and April. At a full council meeting on July 17, Labour councillors blasted the cabinet member for failing to inform scrutiny councillors at a meeting earlier this month of the complaints.

The opposition has now called for an urgent meeting over the findings, to examine the subsequent changes that have been made to transport policy, and to investigate whether the cabinet member “misled scrutiny”.

Labour leader Daniel Francis said: “Over the course of the last year we raised issues with our policies. I was called hysterical.

“However the LGO found the council at fault for these reasons. In cllr Fuller’s evidence earlier this month he said the “majority of appeals we had, we won”.

“Tonight he said at no stage have we breached our statutory duties. On six occasions the LGO said we breached our statutory duties to vulnerable children. Those comments make no relation to the comments from the LGO. Why were these decisions not disclosed to Scrutiny earlier.

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“This meeting needs to be called so we can show we prioritise the interests of our residents over the conservative party. The decision letters suggest widespread maladministration.

“The information suggests there has been a serious attempt to mislead this council and residents. If this is the case, it would appear to me and my colleagues the only action for the cabinet member is to resign.”

Speaking after the meeting, Leader of the Council Teresa O’Neill denied the cabinet member misled anyone – adding that he wasn’t aware of the decisions.

She told the LDR service: “The cabinet member did not mislead the overview and scrutiny committee. The information he gave members was the current situation on appeals and the Ombudsman examines process. The cabinet member was not aware of the Ombudsman decisions.

“Officers considered the Ombudsman’s finding on these cases carefully when they were known and they took corrective actions and made improvements to our processes.

“Our policy was changed to ensure that young people receive the right support to meet their assessed needs and to help them live as independently as possible.

“It is clear from the data that councillor Fuller gave to the overview and scrutiny team that the new policy is being applied appropriately and fairly.

“It is a shame that the opposition don’t understand the difference between the appeals process and that of the Ombudsman and that they decided to wait for a council meeting to showcase their concerns, instead of speaking to councillor Fuller or council officers when it was brought to their attention.”