A FATHER has accused Northumberland County Council of “illegal discrimination” against his daughter, who has complex and severe disabilities.

Mia Slowie, who lives in Wylam, secured a place at Percy Hedleys College in Benton.

However, the county council have refused to fund her transport to college, as the council’s post-16 transport policy states the authority will only agree transport costs for students attending college and studying at a higher level than they did at school, according to the government's education framework.

At the moment, her parents are having to take time off work to drive Mia the 32-mile round trip to college.

Her father, Dominic Slowie, criticised the policy and claimed it places people with severe disabilities at a disadvantage.

He said: “Northumberland County Council will fund transport if the young person can be demonstrated working to the next level up.

“Somebody with a very severe learning disability is never going to be able to demonstrate progress on that framework, even if they can demonstrate progress on their own skills and preparing for adulthood.

“Mia has made great progress particularly with technology assisted communication and walking. It makes us feel that our daughter is being denied an opportunity.

"She's probably among the most vulnerable of young people who live locally and she's been told she will have to make her own way to school.

"People with Mia's level of disability who need the most support and protection are being ignored.

"It's like they're thinking 'they are a drain on society, let's not fund them.'

"We would be happy to pay for transport if we felt the policy was fair and applied consistently - we pay transport costs for our other daughter who attends QEHS sixth form

"To let the decision go unchallenged potentially allows for years of continued discrimination against our most vulnerable citizens who have the same right to education and training as everybody else."

Cath McEvoy-Carr, the council's Executive Director for Adult and Children's Services said: "Following concerns expressed recently in regards to the post 16 education transport policy, we are further reviewing it with specialist advice as a matter of urgency. Should a review of the policy mean amends are made, all decisions will be reviewed and made in line with any policy changes."