Leeds & West Yorkshire

Wakefield faith school pupils may lose free transport

Free school transport for children attending faith schools in Wakefield may be scrapped.

A report by council officers recommends that the service is withdrawn in phases from September 2013.

Schools affected include St Wilfrid's High, St Thomas a Becket College and St Austin's, Holy Family and St Michael's and St Joseph's primary schools.

The council said the changes were prompted by the "tough financial position" it was facing.

A spokesman said the free transport would be retained for pupils already using the service until the end of their primary or secondary education but would not be offered to any new children.

'Strong feeling'

The recommendation follows a public consultation.

Councillor Olivia Rowley, cabinet member for children and young people, said: "We are aware from the consultation of the strong feeling about this service and how valued it is by the families who benefit from it.

"But, at the end of the day, we have to look at access to all our services and balance that against how much money we have to spend and how we prioritise that spending."

Currently, when families choose a school for their child which is not their nearest school, they have to pay for their own transport unless the child will be attending a faith school on religious grounds, in which case the transport cost is covered by the council.

The council has no statutory obligation to provide the service.

Members of the cabinet will discuss the proposed change on Tuesday.

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