Dan Peters 16 January 2020

Medway caves after Ombudsman rap

Medway caves after Ombudsman rap image

Medway Council has finally accepted the recommendations in a Local Government Ombudsman public interest report after a two-year stand-off.

The U-turn came after the Ombudsman issued a ‘rare’ further scolding of the council for ignoring its recommendations.

An Ombudsman judgement in September 2017 had ruled that the council should provide transport for a girl in its area because she was attending the nearest suitable school with places available.

However, council officers claimed the authority’s education travel assistance policy was compliant with Department for Education (DfE) statutory guidance and senior councillors refused to implement the Ombudsman’s recommendations.

Today, the council insisted it had ‘worked closely’ with the Ombudsman and pointed to independent legal advice that found it was ‘correctly following the DfE’s guidance on assessing school transport applications’.

However, the council’s portfolio holder of children’s services, Cllr Josie Iles, said: ‘We have apologised to the complainant for any distress this process may have caused. We respect the Ombudsman’s conclusions and will ensure the recommendations are actioned.’

Photo: © David Anstiss

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