Opposing transport fees
I have received many communications in recent weeks from concerned residents who oppose the current proposal by the Conservative controlled Hertfordshire County Council to phase out from 2007 the present system of free transport to and from students at fa
I have received many communications in recent weeks from concerned residents who oppose the current proposal by the Conservative controlled Hertfordshire County Council to phase out from 2007 the present system of free transport to and from students at faith schools.
If the proposal goes through, faith school students would be treated the same as the other students, in that free home/school transport would be provided only if the nearest school to the student's home was more than two miles away for students under the age of eight, and over three miles away for students over age eight.
The 14-strong Liberal Democrat group at Hertfordshire County Council has taken a policy decision to oppose the proposal because:
1) It will mean that more parents will be likely to use cars to deliver and collect students to and from school.
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2) We believe the solution is to level up rather than level down. Free home/school transport should be provided for all students of compulsory school age who live more than two miles away if under eight and more than three miles way if over eight from their chosen state school. This would have a significant positive impact on rush hour congestion, pollution and road safety.
3) The consultation was badly carried out. The wording of the consultation document was poor and in some cases the leaflets arrived at schools (to be delivered to parents by pupils as young as four years old!) as late as Friday afternoon April 28 for a consultation meeting on May 2.
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The final decision will be by the eight Conservative County Councillors who comprise the cabinet, at a cabinet meeting planned for July 24.
I would therefore advise those of your readers who wish to comment on the proposal to contact County Councillor David Beatty who is the Conservative Leader of Hertfordshire County Council and, of course, a member of the cabinet, to let him know your views.
Hertfordshire Liberal Democrats have also organised a petition opposing the proposals, which is being coordinated by County Councillor Rob Prowse and you can obtain a copy of the petition by contacting him on email@example.com.
ROBIN PARKER, Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Chells Division
* I would like to thank the people who have written to me about the proposal on the part of the Administration of the Herts County Council to end free transport to faith schools.
In the first place, and the tone of some of the letters makes it necessary to say this, I have to make it clear that this suggestion does not come from me but from the Conservative administration at County Hall. I am a Labour councillor and therefore in opposition. I am no more responsible for what the Cabinet decide at Hertford, than, for example, our local Conservative back-bench MPs are responsible for what Tony Blair may decide to do.
As County Councillor for Letchworth North West, I know how much Catholic families living in the area are worried about finding the funds to send their children to even the nearest Catholic school. I shall try to persuade my colleagues at County Hall to adopt a wiser course of action.