Churches protest

PUBLISHED: 12:04 08 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:17 06 May 2010

A CONTROVERSIAL consultation into proposals for ending free transport to faith schools closes tomorrow (Friday). Hertfordshire County Council proposes to end a long running system where pupils attending faith schools are provided with free transport to th

A CONTROVERSIAL consultation into proposals for ending free transport to faith schools closes tomorrow (Friday).

Hertfordshire County Council proposes to end a long running system where pupils attending faith schools are provided with free transport to their schools.

The proposals have been met with a large amount of opposition, and on Tuesday over 300 people attended the John Henry Newman School in Stevenage for the launch of the new North Herts Faith Defence Movement (NHFDM).

The group brings together a multi-faith campaign in opposition to the council's plans, and representatives from a variety of religions and churches attended the meeting.

A statement from the group said the consultation had "incited religious, cultural, racial and eco-social division into what was a previously harmonious society.

"No mention was made of the faith's contribution to the building of the schools and their ownership of the land the schools stand on.

"Nor was there any mention of 10 per cent contribution to capital expenditure made by the faith community and the 90 per cent contribution from central government funds so that the LEA has excellent schools at no direct capital cost to the local council-tax payer.

"Non-faith schools have capital costs met by the LEA."

Chris Saliba, vice chairman of the NHFDM, said the proposals have led to divisions in the county and that some parents whose children go to non-faith schools have said they are "sick and tired" of paying for children to go to faith schools.

A spokesman for the council said: "These people are just reiterating what we've said, in that it is the current system that is divisive.

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