‘Teething problems’ for parents as new taxi deal beds in

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A mother has hit out at County Hall after her young daughter was left stranded when transport to her special needs school failed to arrive.

Kathy Miller had to make the 24-mile round trip to specialist school Chaulden Juniors in Hemel Hempstead with daughter Louise for a week after new firm Tony Groves Taxis let them down.

A spokesperson from County Hall said: “Tony Groves Taxis were unable to continue the contract this year due to staff shortages.”

Louise attends the specialist speech and language unit, and transport is provided by Herts County Council.

Ms Miller previously used Lucketts of Watford and said her daughter had built up a good relationship with both driver and escort.

But a recent changeover in contracts – which happens every four years and enables companies to bid for work – means the Watford firm lost out to others.

Ms Miller said: “It’s inconvenient. As parents, we like continuity for our children. The drivers and the escorts build up a rapport with them.

“The new contract lasted three days before we were let down. I could only do the school run because I have a car and I work from home.”

Due to losing the contract, Lucketts had to lay off several drivers and escorts. Manager Shan Bashir said: “It’s really upsetting, but we couldn’t find the work for them. We tried our best and bid as low as we could, but there was nothing we could do.

“I know things are tight at the moment and they’re spending taxpayer’s money, but I hope they change the process soon.

“Over 80 per cent of our contracts are with special needs, so we really specialise in that.”

A Herts County Council spokesman said: “Contracts are renewed every four years. Services for the west of the county were all up for renewal, so went out to tender.

“The team here have no reports of a poor service, apart from some normal teething problems at the start of term.”