Last week on Tuesday 11th October 2022, Kent County Council’s Scrutiny Committee met at Sessions House in Maidstone to focus on the SEND (special educational needs or disability) Transport Review which exposed appalling failures by the Conservative Administration.

Earlier in the year hundreds of children with special needs were left with no transport to school after what was described as a botched “redesign” of transport arrangements.

The report found:

  • The council’s actions have harmed children
  • It was not treated as a “key decision”
  • It was driven by a desire to make a £2m cut
  • There was no consideration of the risks and impact on chidlren
  • There was not regualr montioring

In the Scrutiny meeting, Kent Liberal Democrat Leader Antony Hook said: “We have a situation that in my six years on Kent County Council which is unprecedented. We have here a report that states this council has caused harm to vulnerable children.

“What really stands out in this report is the decision to cut £2 million was taken without considering the impact on children and young people. As a result, processes which are designed to stop bad decisions were ignored, for example there was no Equalities Impact Assessment and no use of well developed project management tools.

“The setting of the budget was regarded as a final decision however this is wrong, and not the role that budget setting has. If it wasn’t for the media giving people a voice, we might have never had this report.

“A key question for the cabinet members involved is when did you know council officers were working on this? Mr Brazier has made it clear from when he came into post in May 2021 that he received a number of briefings, one of which was on this topic. Mrs Prendergast has not been clear when she knew about this.

“In terms of who directed the officers, Mr Brazier has said it wasn’t him and they were already working on this. Mrs Prendergast has also said she did not direct officers on this. This has left a big unanswered question; who did direct them?

“I’d like to ask both cabinet members, do you accept that you should have said no I don’t want you to work on this? Or at least do you accept you should have enquired further as to what officers were doing?

“You state that you don’t blame anyone. In that case do you accept you are responsible if there is no one else to be blamed?”

Not fair

In reply the Conservatives reportedly said it was not fair to expect them to make sure problems like this did not occur.

webcast of the debate is available here.

After the meeting, Antony Hook claimed: “The Conservatives refuse to take any responsibility for the harm they have caused children. That is why we have called on the Cabinet members to resign. The people of Kent will remember this harm to vulnerable children at future elections and kick the Conservatives out of power in Kent.”

Further information about the report including a link to a copy of the full report is available here.

Links to related news stories:

Review into Kent County Council’s handling of SEND school transport fiasco identifies ‘serious flaws’ (

Kent County Council ‘sorry’ for SEN transport issue distress – BBC News

Hundreds of children left weeks without KCC Travel Saver bus pass (

By Ed

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