Council to consider school transport changes

Published Thursday 4 June 2015 at 13:20

Proposed changes to the discretionary elements of home to school transport in Blackburn with Darwen will be considered by the Council’s Executive Board next week.

A report to the Board makes a series of recommendations about changes to ‘discretionary’ school transport – transport the Council pays for but is not legally required to provide.  It follows two public consultations seeking the views of parents, headteachers, school governors and others. All statutory home to school transport provision are unaffected by the proposals

In response to public feedback, the proposed increase to subsidised fares for bus services that are provided for pupils who don’t attend their nearest school has been reduced. It was initially suggested that daily return fares could increase from £2.50 for all journeys to £3.50 for journeys over three miles and £4.50 for journeys longer than five miles. Now the report recommends:

  • The basic £2.50 fare should continue for pupils attending schools that can contribute to the subsidy – St Bede’s, St Wilfrid’s and Our Lady and St John’s have agreed to do this
  • Pupils attending the other schools that have a subsidised bus service will continue to pay the £2.50 fare for journeys shorter than three miles but £3.50 for longer distances.

The new fares should come into effect from September 2016 so that parents whose children have not yet started secondary school can take this into consideration when choosing a school.

The consultation had proposed withdrawing free transport for pupils who have a short term medical condition, or whose parents are unable to take them to school because of a temporary medical condition, but in response to public feedback  it is now recommended that this service should continue.

The report also recommends:

  • Continuing to provide emergency transport to families in dire need, e.g. house flooding / fires
  • Continuing to provide transport for children who need school places but can’t be placed in their nearest school
  • Ending discretionary free transport for pupils who move house while in years 6, 10 or 11 where the school is more than the statutory walking distance from their new home
  • Ceasing to provide travelling expenses for pupils involved in a ‘managed move’ (i.e. moved to alternative school where at risk of exclusion)
  • Increasing charges for replacement bus passes from £10 to £15

Executive Member for Schools and Education, Cllr Dave Harling, said: “We have had to review school transport because of the £31m cuts we are being forced to make over the next three years on top of the £70m cuts already made. Sadly, the scale of the cuts is having a massive impact on what we can deliver.

“We made sure everyone with an interest in school transport had the chance to have their say on our proposals and their comments have influenced the final set of recommendations that are now being made.

“We would like to thank everyone who took part in the two consultations and particularly the three schools who have agreed to contribute to the cost of subsidising these services, helping to keep down the cost of longer journeys for their pupils.”

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