Cuts to free school transport considered

By a County Press reporter

Friday, September 5, 2014

 

PLANS to axe free school transport for some students will go before the Isle of Wight Council executive on Tuesday.

The council launched a consultation in June on proposals to only provide statutory levels of free school transport.

The plans include scrapping free post-16 transport, only providing free transport for students travelling to their nearest school — if it is two miles away for primary students and three miles away for secondary students — and removing transitional arrangements for Niton and Brighstone Primary school, introduced during school re-organisation.

According to the council, the changes would save £230,000 a year.

Cllr Richard Priest said: "It has been well documented the council is facing huge financial challenges and we must consider all discretionary services we provide.

"With increasing transport costs, coupled with the introduction of the new Free School and Studio School, we need to ensure our transport policy is fair to everyone and offers all the taxpayer value for money."

Speaking at a scrutiny meeting discussion of the proposals last night, Cllr Chris Whitehouse said scrapping subsidised post-16 transport could put students off further education.

He added: "Too many kids are coming into the labour market without the skills and experience they need. By taking away their transport we are going to be reducing their ability to stay on at post-16."

Any changes would come into effect from September 2015, however under the proposals pupils who currently receive free transport would continue to do so until the end of their current stage of schooling, if there are no changes in their personal circumstances.

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