December 8 2013 Latest news:
Donna-Louise Bishop, Reporter
Friday, September 6, 2013
A cash-strapped mum from Norwich has paid a staggering £2,200 in taxi fares to send her 12-year-old daughter to school and is facing paying thousands more unless she can secure funding.
Harmony Shrimpton-Allsop has been declared ineligible for funding from Norfolk County Council’s (NCC) transport department because she attends a “choice” school.
Head of admissions at NCC, Richard Snowden, explained that transport would only be funded if Harmony was to live three miles away or more from her closest school - which she does not.
Now 30-year-old mum Zoe Shrimpton is forced to use her own Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to pay for her daughter’s five-mile-a-day travel expenses.
In the last 110 school days the taxis have cost Miss Shrimpton £20 a day, totalling £2,200.
But despite being classed as a “choice” school Mrs Shrimpton, of Clifton Street, explained that they had no other option.
“Harmony had to change school because of bullying,” she said.
During Christmas last year Harmony’s kidney failed and she was sent for further investigation at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge.
In June she was diagnosed with Tethered Cord Syndrome, a birth defect which means the spinal cord is fixed to surrounding tissues within the spinal column and cannot move freely at the lower end.
Harmony has now lost the use of her left kidney and is due to have it removed next year. She also has lost the ability to use her bladder and bowels and will have to self-catheterises every four hours for the rest of her life.
Yesterday she underwent a major spinal operation to de-tether the spinal cord from the top of her buttocks.
Previous to this she was attending Wensum County Junior School, on Turner Road, but because of the bullying she was temporarily moved to Avenue Junior School, on Avenue Road, before being placed at City of Norwich School (CNS), on Eaton Road, where she is currently a student.
Harmony was catching three to four buses per journey to get to CNS but since February has been losing the feeling in her legs so Miss Shrimpton took the decision to pay for taxis as Harmony is no longer able to catch the bus.
Mr Snowden said: “We understand that Mrs Shrimpton wants her daughter to continue to attend CNS and that is entirely her choice.
“However, transport is only funded when a child lives more than three miles from their closest school. CNS is not Harmony’s closest school and is not more than three miles away from her home – in fact there are four other high schools closer to her address.
“The only exception is if a child is entitled to free school meals. In this case a child is entitled to transport to their three nearest schools, if they live between two and six miles away. However that would not apply in this case because there are four closer schools.”
Although CNS has put a care plan into place to reintegrate Harmony following her operation they are also unable to help with the cost of transport.
Miss Shrimpton said: “I feel so let down that in the current climate there is no help for my sick child. I am very upset as I do not know what else to do.
“This is the only time I have asked for help. Everyone has let us down. I am mortified with the situation we are in.”
This week Harmony was also refused DLA.
Miss Shrimpton herself suffers from health problems, including an 18pc loss of facility in her right-arm, scoliosis of the spine, cervical spondylosis in her arm and neck and arthritis.
She said: “Despite being ill myself, I have tried so hard to get the help she should be entitled to. I have my own carer for my health problems and I have no energy left to fight the big boys.”
NCC has now placed Miss Shrimpton into the gold band for housing in the hope they could be moved closer to the school.
A spokesman from Wensum County Junior School said: “The school does not comment on individual children.”