Mum’s fight after her autistic son had his free pass taken away despite his disability
Oliver Harta’s parents, Nik and Sheryl, have provided evidence of his learning disabilities and evidence of a specialist bus he uses to continue his authority-run work experience
Image: Facundo Arrizabalaga)
An autistic man has had his free pass taken away in a move his mum called ‘absolute nonsense’.
Oliver Harta has been told he is no longer eligible for a ‘Freedom Pass’ which allows him free travel around London.
His family is desperately trying to fight for him to be reinstated after learning that he will be revoked.
The 20-year-old from Harrow, north-west London was told the news despite being handed the pass valid until 2026.
A letter from Harrow Council said Oliver’s disability meant he was no longer qualified for it.
Oliver’s parents, Nik and Sheryl, provided evidence of his learning disabilities and evidence of a specialist bus he uses to continue his work experience, which is run by the authority.
Sheryl said the board insisted she provide a letter from the NHS explicitly outlining Oliver’s condition.
She told MyLondon the council made it harder for her family.
Sheryl said: “My son is almost 21 and is studying math and English at the beginner level. He has no GCSE, he attends an honors college.
“It’s pretty obvious that his autism is impairing his social interactions. I really don’t understand that and it’s quite upsetting for us. How can the board just move the goal posts and say ‘having autism isn’t enough anymore? “?”
She explained how she told Oliver he might have to use a bank card to travel on the bus, which confused him as it was a break from his usual routine.
Sheryl said: “It was very loud and made him a little nervous because it’s something he’s not used to. He kept asking ‘why?’ and saying “I’ve never had to do this before”.
Sheryl was in touch with the council, who put her in touch with a private company that runs the Freedom Pass apps in Harrow.
She said the people making these decisions aren’t aware of the specific circumstances that affect each candidate and she believes they’re using a one-size-fits-all checklist.
She added: ‘I submitted heaps of information, including his education and healthcare plan, but they don’t want to know. They say we need to have that specific piece of paper and it could take up to a year – it wastes valuable time.
“That’s absolute nonsense.”
Sheryl said the council made it harder for her family in a situation where, if needed, they would need to receive more support.
She said, “It’s really obstructive. It’s not the easiest thing to have a child with learning difficulties and then you have to go through things like that.
“Oliver cannot travel alone, so we have to pay to accompany him.
“Now they ask us to pay extra. When you go to the cinema they accept a carer card so someone can come with them for free. I don’t know what’s different with Harrow Council.”
Harrow Council explained that the guidelines are set by the Independent Assessor, who determines who is eligible for a Freedom Pass based on disability types.
A council spokesperson said: ‘We cannot comment on individual cases. Concessions are reviewed every three years to ensure that the applicant continues to meet the criteria.
“As per national guidelines, we can only rely on what the Independent Assessor sends us. Applicants have the right to appeal this decision.”