News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales

Removal of free transport for non-entitled pupils to save £400,000 approved by Flintshire councillors

Politicians have approved measures to stop providing free travel for pupils who are not legally entitled to it.

Flintshire Council has identified a number of cases where youngsters are getting free travel, despite not attending their nearest appropriate school.

It includes those who automatically receive free travel because their older brother or sister also does.

Under national legislation, the council only needs to provide the service for secondary school pupils who live three miles or further from their nearest suitable school and two miles or more for primary schools.

It is estimated that the move will save the authority around £400,000.

Cllr Carolyn Thomas, cabinet member for Streetscene and countryside, said she recognised the impact the move would have on parents.

However, speaking at a meeting at County Hall in Mold she added the council was left with little option given the £15 million savings it needed to make next year.
She said:

“This report is difficult for me as a mum of three children.

“I understand how it affects people in work and particularly rural areas.

“I’m presenting this with a heavy heart because we are constantly being pressured for efficiencies and we have to have consistency in our policies.”

Parents of children affected will be given 12 months’ notice in order to make alternative arrangements.

The authority 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.

Cllr Ian Roberts, cabinet member for education, said he was surprised by some of the historical anomalies identified.

He said:

“I’m sure we do things where we all have heavy hearts in and I recognise Cllr Thomas’s point here.

“You look at some of these anomalies and you think ‘Wow, how did this ever happen?’

“I suppose it goes back to when there was a money tree in County Hall.

“The aim of the education department is all our schools should be functioning at the best possible level so parents don’t have to send children all over the county.”

Cabinet members unanimously voted to back the proposals.

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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