Protesters have won a partial victory in a fight over plans to cut personal door-to-door transport services for disabled children.

Sutton Council had proposed to cut the transport budget £250,000 by introducing pick-up points for children with special educational needs.

Parents had argued the plans would put their children, many of whom require constant care, at risk and would put carers and parents under pressure.

The council announced last week that it had “responded to concerns’’ and children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and those who can not walk unassisted, would now be unaffected by the plans.

The new recommendations, which go to scrutiny overview committee on Tuesday, would affect 85 SEN students out of a former 545.

Councillor David Theobald, whose son is autistic, said the move was “encouraging’’ but remained cautious.

He said: “I’d like to know who these 85 children are who would have to use the pick-up-points as we need to protect all children with disabilities.

“These recommendations are encouraging but we’re not holding our breath as the proposals were flawed to begin with.

“The cuts represent a pittance in comparison to sums gifted to aborted garden waste schemes and vanity projects like the planned Life Skills Centre.’’ Council expenditure on SEN transport has increased from £2.8m in 2005/2006 to an estimated £4.3m for 2008/2009.

The introduction of pick-up points would reduce the budget for SEN Transport by over £200,000 a year.

The council said the proposed scheme would give many children a “greater sense of independence and help boost their social skills’’.

Sutton Council strategic director for children Dr Ian Birnbaum said: “These proposals are the result of extensive consultation with parents, including eight public meetings, and we have listened carefully to their views.

“The rising cost of providing SEN transport is not sustainable.

“These proposals aim to strike the right balance. Children’s safety is of paramount importance and we would never consider proposals that we thought could put anyone in danger.”

If proposals are accepted by a meeting of the cabinet on December 1 the pick-up points would begin at the start of the 2009 summer term.

Meanwhile, parents will continue to protest this Saturday in Sutton High Street outside the St Nicholas Centre from 10am until 4pm.

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