Environmental call to keep faith transport

PUBLISHED: 12:45 07 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:48 06 May 2010

A DECISION to scrap free transport to and from faith schools in Hertfordshire is to be discussed in a special council meeting. Hertfordshire County Council s Cabinet decided in July to phase out the current system from September 2007 to save money and, ac

A DECISION to scrap free transport to and from faith schools in Hertfordshire is to be discussed in a special council meeting.

Hertfordshire County Council's Cabinet decided in July to phase out the current system from September 2007 to save money and, according to executive member for education David Lloyd, to make "the best and fairest use of limited resources".

However, using constitutional powers available to them three councillors have summoned a special meeting of the Environment Scrutiny Committee today (Thursday) at County Hall, Hertford, to discuss the Cabinet's decision.

According to the meeting's agenda, the committee will discuss "whether to recommend the Cabinet reconsider that decision on the grounds of environmental impact".

Cllr Stephen Giles-Medhurst, the committee chairman, said: "We did not have a proper debate on the environmental impact of the decision at the meeting in July and that is what this meeting is for.

"We have yet to see any plans to alleviate the extra traffic which will be caused by the decision to phase out free faith school transport and we will meet to discuss this.

"I don't anticipate the Cabinet decision being changed but I would like all of the environmental concerns to be discussed in this meeting."

Hitchin councillor Nigel Brook is the vice-chairman of the committee.

He said: "Because three members, according to the constitution, can call something in if they think there has been an error that is why this meeting has been called.

"I think all the environmental concerns have been discussed before, at the council meeting in July.

"I was in favour of that decision. It is a matter of equality."

North Herts Faith Defence Group, a non-political non-faith campaign group, said it was delighted to hear the council was reviewing the environmental impact of the Cabinet's decision.

A spokesman said: "The county council's own prediction for county-wide environmental impact would be, among other things, an annual increase in CO2 emissions of several thousand tonnes with the predicted increase in car movements to be as high as 7,700 per school day.

"We hope that the Environmental Scrutiny Committee recommends reversing the decision made on July 24 and reinstates children's rights to have free travel to their nearest faith school.

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