CHILDREN with special educational needs who attend school in South Wirral will have to pay to travel to school after the council agreed to change its policy.

Parents of pupils between 16 and 19-years-old or pupils with medical needs will be faced with paying £660 for transport from September.

Despite the fees being bad news for parents, they are less than expected after members of Cheshire West and Chester Council executive group voted to alter the original recommendations.

The original proposal was for a fee of £1,200.

CWAC agreed the changes to the school transport charging policy, including three revised recommendations, at their latest meeting.

The fee will rise to £880 in September 2015 to bring it in line with the cost for transport for mainstream students over the age of 16.

Councillor Mark Stocks, CWAC's executive member for children and young people, stressed that the free transport previously offered is discretionary and not a statutory requirement.

He said the average cost for discretionary SEN transport is £5,200 per student and even with the new charging policy, there would be a significant council subsidy in excess of £4,000.

CWAC will continue to spend in excess of £7million on transport but Cllr Stocks said difficult decisions had to be made in order to save £9m in services for children and young people.

He said: "I fully appreciate the impact that this could have on some of the families who have vulnerable children.

“I do fully appreciate that, but we do have a very difficult situation.

“We have currently 447 children in care who don’t have the loving, caring, supportive parents that you all are and we have a duty, a responsibility, to look after those children to the best of our abilities and unfortunately that comes at a cost.

“The reality is we have had to make some really tough decisions and this I have to say is one of the toughest.”