A family are fighting to get their autistic son’s bus pass back – after the council told him he was no longer eligible to travel for free. Oliver Harta, 20, from Pinner, has been told his Freedom Pass, which allowed him free use of public transport across London, has been revoked.
Oliver initially received a pass valid until 2026. In a letter, seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Harrow Council said Oliver’s disability no longer qualifies him for a Freedom Pass. This was despite his parents, Nik and Sheryl, providing evidence that shows he has learning difficulties.
Oliver also uses a specialist bus service to take him to the work experience, which is run by the council. Sheryl said the board insisted she provide a letter from the NHS explicitly outlining Oliver’s condition.
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She argued the council shouldn’t make things harder for her family and suggested going the medical route would be ‘a waste of a doctor’s time’ when they have ‘much more important things to deal with “. Sheryl told My London: ‘My son is almost 21 and he is studying maths and English at beginner level. He has no GCSE, he attends an honors college.
“It’s pretty obvious that his autism is impairing his social interactions. I really don’t understand that and it’s quite upsetting for us. How can the board just move the goal posts and say ‘having autism isn’t enough anymore? “?”
She explained how she told Oliver he might have to use a bank card to travel on the bus, which confused him as it was a break from his usual routine. Sheryl said: “It was very loud and made him a little nervous because it’s something he’s not used to. He kept asking ‘why?’ and saying “I’ve never had to do this before”.
Sheryl was in touch with the council, who put her in touch with a private company that runs the Freedom Pass apps in Harrow. She said the people making these decisions aren’t aware of the specific circumstances that affect each candidate and she believes they’re using a one-size-fits-all checklist.
She added: ‘I submitted heaps of information, including his education and healthcare plan, but they don’t want to know. They say we need to have that specific piece of paper and it could take up to a year – it wastes valuable time.
“That’s absolute nonsense.” Sheryl said the council made it harder for her family in a situation where, if needed, they would need to receive more support.
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She said, “It’s really obstructive. It’s not the easiest thing to have a child with learning difficulties and then you have to go through things like that. Oliver cannot travel alone, so we have to pay to accompany him.
“Now they ask us to pay extra. When you go to the cinema, they accept a carer card so that someone can come with you for free.
“I don’t know what’s different with Harrow Council.” Harrow Council explained that the guidelines are set by the independent assessor, who determines who is eligible for a Freedom Pass based on disability types.
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A council spokesperson said: ‘We cannot comment on individual cases. Concessions are reviewed every three years to ensure that the applicant continues to meet the criteria.
“As per national guidelines, we can only rely on what the Independent Assessor sends us. Applicants have the right to appeal this decision.”
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This notice was published: 2022-04-03 07:15:15