Kent transport

Sittingbourne dad slams Kent County Council for ‘sexist’ policy which targets estranged fathers

A father has slammed a council’s policy as sexist after learning he was unlikely to get help getting his son to a special school.

John Corley-Greenaway lives in Great Easthall, Sittingbourne, with his 11-year-old Milo, his partner Danielle and their four other children.

Milo spends half of his time with his father and the other half with his mother, Annemarie Barker, who lives in Tonbridge.

He will start school at Snowfields Academy in Cranbrook in September, 28 miles from his father’s house. The school was chosen due to a lack of special education places in Swale.

The 52-year-old said: “We were told by the council that he would not pay for him to have a taxi or help transport to his new specialist secondary from our address, only his mum’s. “

John and Danielle understand that other parents in the area, whose children go to the same school, are organizing a minibus.

They don’t understand why Milo can’t sit down.

Milo lives with his father, John Corley-Greenaway, in Sittingbourne half the time

John, a self-employed handyman, said: “The council have said they will provide a taxi service from his mother’s house as their policy states that transport can only be arranged by one parent, and that is the parent closest to the school and the one who receives family allowances.

“I think it’s unfair. Milo lives with Danielle and me half the time, so what’s the difference?

“Normally, after a separation, the mother will receive child benefits, so to some extent I think it’s a sexist policy.

“Milo’s mum is amazing but she gets all the benefits and everything for him. We don’t get a dime from the government for him despite Milo living here half the time which is court ordered.”

The distance between Milo's mother and father's homes and his new school in Cranbrook
The distance between Milo’s mother and father’s homes and his new school in Cranbrook

Annemarie agrees with John and fears the policy will put pressure on separated parents.

The 38-year-old said: “I think it’s unfair that KCC only provides transport from one address.

“I think it puts pressure on parents in two households and could cause problems within a co-parenting family.

“I feel like one of our households will be discriminated against and we could end up with thousands of pounds out of our pocket and unable to work if this issue is not addressed.”

Milo Greenaway and his mom, Annemarie Barker
Milo Greenaway and his mom, Annemarie Barker

John calculated that taking Milo to school himself would cost him around £7,000 a year.

With travel time taking up to 90 minutes each way at peak times, it would also force the father to cut his working hours in half.

He said: “To take Milo to school, I’m going to have to earn more money while reducing my working hours.

“It’s just not doable, the order of residence won’t change and he’ll still be with me half the time.

“If it’s not resolved, Milo won’t be able to go to school half the time.”

Milo Greenaway spends half the time with his mother in Tonbridge and the other half with his father in Great Easthall, Sittingbourne
Milo Greenaway spends half the time with his mother in Tonbridge and the other half with his father in Great Easthall, Sittingbourne

John, Annemarie and Danielle did not request the taxi service after being told by the KCC Transport Eligibility Service that the council does not offer transport from two addresses.

In an email to parents, a KCC transport assistant said: “Unfortunately we do not provide transport from two addresses, even if one parent has a court order like the one you issued.

“Once the application has been processed (if properly submitted), we would require the application to be made if it was not mentioned on the application.

“If it’s a denial, which I imagine, it would have to be formally appealed.”

However, KCC stressed that they should still apply despite this email.

Milo Greenaway will attend a special high school in Cranbrook
Milo Greenaway will attend a special high school in Cranbrook

A spokesperson said: “”The process for SEND home-to-school transportation on a 50/50 residency is that we would review assessments on a case-by-case basis.

“A request must be formally made to this effect before we review an individual’s situation.”

John finished: “As the board’s decision stands, I have to tell them I have to refuse to take it.

“We just can’t physically afford to do it.

“Even if we took benefits, we still couldn’t do it, we physically wouldn’t have the money.

“We are puzzled, we don’t know what we are going to do.”