News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

UPDATED: Flintshire Council clarifies position on free transport for faith and Welsh language schools

There have been developments on this story today with the council moving to clarify its position on free transport for faith and Welsh language schools.

It comes after the authority published proposals to address a number of anomalies where pupils are still receiving free travel to schools which are not their nearest.

A report set to go to cabinet members next week states that its policy does not entitle parents or children any right to free transport to their
preferred school or location, including those of a particular faith or language.

However, Cllr Ian Roberts, the council’s cabinet member for education, said those attending faith and Welsh medium schools will be unaffected if they meet certain criteria and it is accepted to be their nearest suitable school.

He said: “There is no intention to withdraw the provision of free transport to Ysgol Maes Garmon and St Richard Gwyn Catholic High School.

“Ysgol Maes Garmon for Welsh speakers or people undertaking the Trochi course, and St Richard Gwyn for young people of the Roman Catholic faith, is determined to be the nearest suitable school.”

Legally, the council needs to provide free transport for secondary school pupils who live three miles or further from their nearest suitable school and two miles or more for primary schools.

The move to stop giving free travel for those who do not meet the criteria has been estimated to save the authority about £290,000 once it is fully implemented from July 2020.

Parents will be given 12 months’ notice in order to make alternative travel arrangements.

Speaking previously, Cllr Roberts said: “This is a difficult situation as Flintshire, of course, wants to provide pupils with as much choice as possible, but in this current climate we also need to look at the most cost-effective and efficient ways of operating.

“Flintshire spends considerably more on school transport than other local authorities and, therefore, it is necessary to review our policy, given our financial situation.”

The council is also reviewing the subsidies it provides to bus companies, which could result in some services used by pupils who are not eligible being stopped.

In future those children would be allowed to travel at a reduced rate on school buses, which would have their capacity increased to accommodate them.

The local education authority is also proposing to remove free transport for pupils who receive it automatically because their older brother or sister also does.

Council response.

Flintshire County Council tweeted a response this morning, Friday, November 16 to a report (below) produced by the Local Democracy Reporting Service published by news organisations yesterday.


More about the Local Democracy Reporting Service here: Deeside.com/local democracy reporter

Previous report:

Children in Flintshire who do not attend their nearest school will no longer receive free transport.

Flintshire Council has identified a number of cases where pupils are getting free travel, despite falling outside national legislation.

*It includes those who attend religious and Welsh medium schools, but don’t live nearby. (*This has now been amended in the above report)

Legally, the council only needs to provide free transport for secondary school pupils who live three miles or further from their nearest suitable school and two miles or more for primary schools.

The move has been estimated to save the authority about £290,000 once it is fully implemented from July 2020.

Parents will be given 12 months’ notice in order to make alternative travel arrangements.

Cllr Ian Roberts, the council’s cabinet member for education and youth, said: “This is a difficult situation as Flintshire, of course, wants to provide pupils with as much choice as possible, but in this current climate we also need to look at the most cost-effective and efficient ways of operating.

“Flintshire spends considerably more on school transport than other local authorities and, therefore, it is necessary to review our policy, given our financial situation.”

The council is also reviewing the subsidies it provides to bus companies, which could result in some services used by pupils who are not eligible being stopped.

In future those children would be allowed to travel at a reduced rate on school buses, which would have their capacity increased to accommodate them.

The authority is also proposing to remove free transport for pupils who receive it automatically because their older brother or sister also does.

Cllr Carolyn Thomas, cabinet member for Streetscene and transportation, said: “The Home to School Transport Policy will be applied strictly and siblings will not have an automatic entitlement to transport, even if transport is provided for an older sibling.

“Parents need to be aware that there will be a cost implication.

“Applications for schools are being returned now for September 2019 and parents need to know the current transport policy when making their choice.”

Where youngsters have been unable to secure a place at their nearest school, free transport will be provided to the next closest if the criteria is met.

The proposals will be discussed by Flintshire Council’s cabinet on next Tuesday.

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter.

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