Portsmouth family want council action on college transport for 20-year-old disabled man who lost school place after months of taxi woes

THE family of a disabled city man who lost his school place after a series of taxi woes have hit out at the council for ‘failing’ to provide necessary transport.

Thursday, 3rd February 2022, 1:05 pm

Charlie Stapleford, 20, is ‘not very happy’ about being withdrawn from his place at St Vincent College after months of transport issues left him unable to reach school - although Portsmouth City Council promises it is ‘working’ to find a solution.

Dad Daren Westrope said that due to Charlie’s cerebral palsy, the young man has issues with walking and talking.

Daren said: ‘He can get a few words out. He’s in a wheelchair.’

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Charlie Stapleford, 20, at home with Grandad Mark Westrope after having his place at St Vincent College revoked following the council being unable to provide transport. Picture: Alex Shute

Read More

Read More
Portsmouth parents in court over children's unauthorised absences from schools

After leaving the Mary Rose Academy, a special school in Southsea, Charlie was ready to continue his studies at Gosport’s St Vincent College in September.

However, Charlie’s family said that due to the council not providing appropriate transportation that could accommodate his wheelchair, Charlie was unable to get to college, and has lost his place as a result.

Daren said: ‘The taxis sent couldn’t fit Charlie in, and he’s now lost his placement at college. He’s being let down.

‘As he’s lost his place in college, he has now lost his benefits.’

Daren says that Charlie is ‘not very happy’ about being unable to attend class.

Andy Grant, principal of St Vincent, confirmed that the college has ‘regrettably’ had to withdraw Charlie as ‘the local authority have been unable to secure appropriate transport provision for him to safely access the onsite education’ offered.

He said: ‘We continue to hold a place for Charlie but have had to withdraw him at this time in accordance with funding regulations as he has been unable to attend college to date.

‘We understand that the local authority are continuing to seek a solution that enables Charlie to access appropriate transport which enables him to safely travel to and from college.’

The principal added that the college’s hope is that ‘this can be resolved for Charlie and his family as soon as possible so that we can welcome him to St Vincent and commence his studies with us.’

Charlie lives with his dad and mum, Daren’s fiance Jackie Stapleford, near Baffins Pond.

He has a brother, Dylan Westrope, who has autism.

Daren said: ‘Charlie was trying to learn, get a bit more education.

‘He’s not around his friends, he’s got nothing. He needs to be learning.

‘As the council can’t provide transport, the main failing is coming from the council.’

A Portsmouth City Council spokeswoman said: ‘We have contacted the family to outline their options for transport to/from college and we are working with them to find a solution.

‘Travel assistance for post-16 education is arranged on a case by case basis by the council's education team for young people up to age 19 and are then referred to our adult social care team for support.

‘From age 19, people in need of travel assistance can apply for transport support via the adult social care help desk by calling 023 9268 0810.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

Subscribe here for unlimited access to all our coverage, including Pompey, for just 26p a day.