A MOTHER has hit out at Cornwall Council after the authority refused to provide a taxi service for her epileptic daughter to attend an exam at Truro College.
Kayleigh Wilton, 16, suffers from the debilitating condition and attends college three times a week, travelling from her Wadebridge home in a taxi with a medically trained supervisor on hand in case she suffers an absence seizure.
The taxi service costs Kayleigh's mother Brenda £327 a year but is partly funded by Cornwall Council under its subsidised transport scheme.
Kayleigh's exam, which is scheduled for tomorrow, takes place outside of her normal three-day week and her mother has now been told by the council that it will not pay for the service.
"This is quite wrong; the council has told me it is refusing to pay the taxi service for Kayleigh to attend her exam and I believe they are discriminating against her because of her disability," Mrs Wilton said.
"A bus pass would allow her to travel on any given day but we can't guarantee her safety on a bus; if she didn't have epileptic absences, of which she can have 20 to 30 a day, she would be able to travel on it but we never know when the absences can happen.
"She's even walked out into the middle of the road before.
"A bus just isn't practical for her safety; she needs to sit with a trained supervisor provided by the taxi firm that takes her directly to the building she needs to go to because of these absences."
Epilepsy is a long-term neurological disorder characterised by epileptic seizures. Absence seizures, although brief (4 to 20 seconds), occur frequently, sometimes in the hundreds per day and involve abrupt and severe impairment of consciousness.
Cornwall Council said it is unable to discuss individual cases but a spokesman said: "The council's subsidised transport scheme for young people in post-16 education commissions transport to take into account a student's assessed needs and days of attendance at school/college.
"As we have a duty to provide best value for money, transport is not provided to meet individual students' timetables or extracurricular activities.
"However, where a student who attends on a part-time basis is required to attend on an additional day in order to sit an external examination, this is taken into account and considered on a case-by-case basis."
Mrs Wilton said this isn't the first time she has had a problem with the council over the subsidised service.
"In the first week of college I had to take Kayleigh to and from Truro myself because the taxi firm hadn't been paid – the council said the application was submitted late even though it was done months before. It turned out it simply got lost in a pile."