Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Bishop opposes Christ the King College free travel plan change

The Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth has written to the Isle of Wight Council leader expressing "dismay" at proposals to end free travel for faith schools.

The Right Reverend Crispian Hollis said removing transport subsidies could "severely impact the future and the flourishing of Christ the King School".

Councillor David Pugh, leader of the council, said all pupils should be treated equally regardless of religion.

A consultation on plans to end the blanket subsidy runs until 4 July.

Pupils travel from across the island to Christ the King school in Newport, the county's only secondary faith school.

The council wants to limit free travel to low income families - charging others £400 for an annual bus pass.

'Not fair'

Bishop Hollis said taking away the travel subsidy would "make life very difficult and may result in families deciding that they cannot afford to send their children to the faith school of their choice".

He added: "I think that it is only right that you should know that I view the whole proposal with dismay.

"I urge you and the council to think again before implementing a proposal which could jeopardise the flourishing and development of Christ the King School."

Mr Pugh said it was not fair that some pupils received free transport decided on the basis of their religion.

He said: "It is not equitable or affordable in the current climate to offer a unique entitlement of free transport to parents and children of a certain religion, which is not made available to others.

"I'm confident that the vast majority of parents support our approach on this.

"A lot of councils have already made the change and in a way we're catching up."

Mr Pugh said he would be responding to the bishop in due course.

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