THE county council has come under fire for claiming no cuts are being made to a school service set to be slashed by £986,000.

The authority has today said its Home to School Transport service - which takes disabled children to school - will not be cut.

But bosses have already agreed to the near £1m budget saving that will see some children share transport instead of the current individual home pick up service.

In a letter issued today (August 5) Cllr Roz Chadd, deputy leader of Hampshire County Council, said: "Hampshire residents may have seen reports in the media recently, claiming that we are ‘scrapping’ or ‘making cuts’ to our Home to School Transport service. This is simply not the case."

Opposition councillor Peter Chegwyn said he was shocked by the statement and called on the council to 'stop blaming the media'.

He said: "I'm shocked that a senior county member should tell porkies and blame the media for Hampshire's failings.

"What the county is saying is simply not true - they're cutting nearly £1m and cutting a much-valued service and instead of trying to massage the truth, they should try and tell the truth - and stop blaming the media for reporting the truth."

Cllr Chegwyn, a Gosport councillor, added: "We're talking about the most vulnerable children being given a new shared service which simply isn't suitable.

"The service is being cut - it's not as good as it was.

"The council should not try and hide or distort the truth - parents will not be fooled."

Some 12,000 children are currently covered by the service, with changes are set to be brought in gradually over two to three years.

The main switch is the council moving to public pick-up and drop-off points, rather than parking in front of passengers’ homes, and taking multiple children on a single journey.

In her letter Cllr Chadd added: "It is true that there will be some changes in our policy, and we will be continuing to fulfil our legal obligation (statutory duty) as we always have done, to provide a home to school transport service for children and young people who are eligible for this service.

"Where there are pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, their needs will continue to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

"I can assure parents that any child or young person whose needs are such that they cannot access a shared collection and drop-off location, will continue to receive a door to school service."

The plan will affect five per cent of children receiving home-to-school transport, with their needs examined on a case-by-case basis.

Liberal Democrat member for Dibden and Hythe, Cllr Malcolm Wade previously said: "This policy will not work for all young people – there will be more appeals and more tribunals.

"It’s quite soul-destroying for parents, and if it’s such a small number then why don’t we leave it as it is for SEND children, and therefore ensure that all these children get the level or attention that they need.

"We have to ensure they get the best start in life."

Director for children’s services, Steve Crocker, said: "We spend about £35m every year on home-to-school transport and have to get the best value for money for the taxpayer.

"That cost is only going to increase with rising petrol costs."

Campaigners from the Disability Union previously criticised the plan.