Hereford & Worcester

Free school transport may be cut in Worcestershire

Discretionary free school transport may be withdrawn in Worcestershire as part of cost cutting measures.

Worcestershire County Council is calling for residents to take part in consultation on the future of home to school transport provision.

A council spokesman said savings of £474,000 had already been achieved within school transport.

But he added it still needed to find a further £1.45m savings over the next three years.

Councils must provide school transport in certain situations such as to children from low income families or children with disabilities but other forms of transport are offered on a discretionary basis.

The Conservative controlled council is proposing scrapping assistance to attend existing schools following either a move to emergency temporary housing or moving house during years 10 and 11 when sitting external exams.

It is also considering removing the subsidy for those repeating a year of compulsory education, post-16 transport, transport to faith schools if they are not the nearest school and pre-school nursery transport.

'No other choice'

The consultation, which started in January, will run until April.

Councillor Marcus Hart, the council's cabinet member for education, said: "We have been left with no other choice, but to make savings that involve making tough decisions, which may include only fulfilling our statutory duties.

"Doing nothing in the area of home to school transport would not deliver any further financial savings and it is increasingly likely that cost pressures will continue to increase markedly during the next few years."

The proposal for post-16 transport aims to continue to provide transport services where there is no suitable alternative, but to charge the full costs of these services for anybody wanting to use them.

The spokesman added any proposed changes would be implemented via a phased approach in preparation for the start of the 2012/13 academic year.

A final decision is expected at the council's Cabinet meeting in May.

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