Group of special needs children refused entry to zoo after Milton Keynes Council bill blunder

The Short Break Vouchers are used by hundreds of local people
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A big blunder by Milton Keynes Council has left some special needs children and their families unable to use Short Break Vouchers to get into Woburn Safari Park.

An “issue” with the payment system has left the safari park, one of the biggest voucher attractions, with no choice but to turn the families away.

Parents and carers have been told: “We’re really sorry, but we can’t let you in because the council has not paid our bill. We hope tor resolve the problem as soon a possible.”

Woburn Safari Park. Photo: Google Maps Street ViewWoburn Safari Park. Photo: Google Maps Street View
Woburn Safari Park. Photo: Google Maps Street View

The problem was highlighted to the MK Citizen by angry families whose children had been left disappointed after being promised a day out.

One carer said: “The children were devastated. We don’t blame the safari park – they were very nice but explained they has no choice because they hadn’t been paid by the council. It’s a huge mistake for the council to make.”

The Citizen contacted Milton Keynes City Council leader Pete Marland, who sprang into action within minutes.

He said: “I’d like to thank parents and MK Citizen for bringing this issue to my attention.

MK Council leader Pete MarlandMK Council leader Pete Marland
MK Council leader Pete Marland

"I can confirm that payments have been made and Milton Keynes City Council will be in contact with the providers to ensure they have received the funds.”

Pete promised that the the payment system would now be reviewed to prevent the problem for re-occurring.

"The finance team will be reviewing the council processes to ensure that payments are made in good time or that any issues that may be holding up payments are dealt with on a more timely basis so that families who need short breaks are able to access the services they want without any difficulty,” he said.

Short Break Vouchers are given to children and families with a finalised EHCP produced by Milton Keynes Council and the aim is to enable them to try something different, make new friends or provide an outing that siblings can enjoy together.

They give free entry to a string of local facilities and the venues are compensated by the council.

It is not known whether other venues have had to refuse entry because they were not paid or whether the issue was a one-off.

Woburn Safari Park has declined to comment.