Council to cut free school transport
CENTRAL Bedfordshire Council (CBC) has taken the first steps to cut free transport for many schoolchildren in an attempt to slash �1m a year from its budget. The council inherited its current Home to School Transport policy from Bedfordshire County Counci
CENTRAL Bedfordshire Council (CBC) has taken the first steps to cut free transport for many schoolchildren in an attempt to slash �1m a year from its budget.
The council inherited its current Home to School Transport policy from Bedfordshire County Council and has looked at amending parts of it to make the service as cost effective as possible.
Having conducted a consultation with schools, parents, representatives from denominational schools, and taxpayers, councillors have decided to agree with the recommendations made in a council officer's report.
Children who attend denominational schools will no longer automatically receive free transport, but children from low income families or those with disabilities will.
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There will be a review of routes to make them safer for those who choose to walk or ride their bikes to school, and a review of how children with special educational needs can find more independent ways of getting to school.
This decision, says CBC, will bring them in line with many other councils in England. Hertfordshire County Council removed free transport to denominational schools in 2007.
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This new Home to School Transport policy will be in place by September 2010.
Cllr Anita Lewis, portfolio holder for children's services at CBC, said: "We understand some are going to be disappointed they will no longer qualify for free school transport but we must make our services more efficient so we can protect the critical services we provide.
"Rest assured we will now be working with parents and diocese representatives to help make any transition in September as smooth as possible."
Cllr Tricia Turner, leader of the council, said: "The debate reflects the difficult decisions local authorities have to make.
"On the one hand we have a service that a small proportion of people use and value greatly, on the other we have strong pressure to limit our spending to protect other frontline services and offer value for money to all our residents.