SPECIAL educational needs and disabled (SEND) students will be charged for home to school transport, councillors have agreed, despite being told it would be a body blow to “the unfortunate”.

North Yorkshire County Council members voted to introduce £490 fees for post-16-18 SEND students as part of its drive to cut £43m from its budget by 2019/20, bringing the charges in line with those for mainstream pupils.

Children’s services boss Councillor Janet Sanderson said there had been a legal challenge over the move, but the council’s legal advisors were confident the authority was acting legally.

She added a planned protest outside the full council meeting had not materialised, and the protestors were “conspicuous by their absence”.

Leader of the authority’s Labour group, Councillor Eric Broadbent, said the authority did not know how long austerity would last. He said: “We are penalising people with special needs when we don’t need to. It is the unfortunate in our society that will bear the greatest brunt.”