Nottingham City Council has invested £350,000 to transport severely disabled children to and from school.
The authority has purchased nine specially-adapted ambulances which have been running since the beginning of January. A total of 16 pupils are picked up every day from across the city and taken to Oak Field School and Sports College, in Bilborough.
The Wigman Road school caters for five to 18-year-olds with learning difficulties and physical disabilities, and the ambulances are designed to transport students in wheelchairs or beds if necessary.
The Council previously employed a private company to run its High-Dependency Transport Service but felt that bringing it in-house would provide a cost saving over time. There is the potential for the specialist vehicles to be hired out in the day between school runs to create an additional revenue stream.
It is also felt that the authority will be able to create a high-quality service and provide flexibility to meet the specific needs of pupils.
Each fully-trained driver and escort will operate the same route each day and will transport the same two children, so will become familiar to their families and understand their individual requirements.
Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills at Nottingham City Council, said: “This is a significant investment by the Council and we’ve done it because we understand the importance of each child in the city having the opportunity to attend school every day.
“We have worked very closely with the previous provider for a number of years, which has operated a great service, but we’re delighted to have been able to bring it in-house.
“This will ultimately save the authority money at a time when our budgets are being squeezed ever more tightly – plus there is the added potential for these specially-adapted vehicles to be hired out in the hours between school drop-off and pick-up.
“Not only that, but we’re confident that by bringing this in-house we can offer a first-class service for our pupils with the on-going flexibility to adapt to their personal requirements.”