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Mum with rare cancer slams council after 'fight' for school transport help

PUBLISHED: 09:32 03 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:42 03 October 2019

Zoe Singleton, with daughters Olivia-Rae, five, and Aria-Rae, two. Photo: Zoe Singleton

Zoe Singleton, with daughters Olivia-Rae, five, and Aria-Rae, two. Photo: Zoe Singleton

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A woman who had part of her bowel removed to treat a rare form of cancer has hit out at a council for initially refusing her support with school transport.

Zoe Singleton, with daughters Olivia-Rae, five, and Aria-Rae, two. Photo: Zoe SingletonZoe Singleton, with daughters Olivia-Rae, five, and Aria-Rae, two. Photo: Zoe Singleton

Zoe Singleton, from Holt, was told she had mucosal melanoma - a rare skin cancer that develops inside the body - in August.

She had surgery to remove a tumour and a large area of surrounding muscle and tissue which has left her with temporary incontinence.

If the cancer has spread into the tissue then more surgery may be needed which will then require a stoma bag.

Now the 27-year-old said she was unable to take her five-year-old daughter the 15 minute walk to school while she recovers.

And her husband - who starts work in Norwich at 7am - is also unable to drop his daughter off.

But after asking for a taxi service the couple were initially refused help from the county council, who said "we do not take into account parents working when assessing these requests".

In an email to Mrs Singleton seen by this newspaper, a council officer wrote: "We expect parents to make the necessary changes to get their children to school."

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Mrs Singleton said the council's initial decision was "unfair" and said: "They shouldn't get away with treating people like that.

"They asked 'is there no one in your neighbourhood who could take her?' Why should I have to give her to a stranger I don't know and trust when there is a service that should be available to me?"

But after being contacted by this newspaper, the council reversed their decision, and offered Mrs Singleton's daughter a space in a daily school taxi service scheme.

A spokesperson said the council was pleased to offer the support - which came at no cost to them.

But despite saying she was "very grateful" for the council's help, the mother-of-two added: "It's not something that should have happened.

"Not everyone has got it in them to contest it, or the energy to fight.

"When you're in this position it should be automatic. They need to look at their policy differently."

And a council spokesperson added: "We will always try to assist families where we can do so at no extra cost to the county council.

"Decisions are based on our school transport policy, which follows national guidelines.

"We were looking into what we could help arrange for Mrs Singleton as we do with many of our more serious cases, and were fortunately able to find a solution, even though in this instance she wouldn't have been eligible under the national guidelines we follow."

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