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Council to consider changes to school transport

Bridgend County Borough Council has launched a learner travel consultation which asks people for their thoughts on potential changes to school transport provision.

Faced with making cuts of £35m over the next four years, the council is reviewing all non-essential services to see where savings can be made.

The consultation is inviting views on potential changes to travel arrangements for school pupils and students attending further education colleges. It is important that the council understands how the proposed changes could affect pupils and their families.

The consultation includes proposals such as the withdrawal of transport for all learners benefitting from an available walking route to school (under two miles for primary school children and under three miles for secondary school pupils), and removal of escorts from all taxis and minibuses of less than eight passengers.  However, escorts will still operate on vehicles where the council considers it in the interest of pupils, in particular, those with additional learning needs.

The consultation also seeks the views of the public on proposals such as ending free transport for learners aged 16 or over who go to school or college, and to stop providing free transport for nursery-age pupils (ages three and four) as there is no law that says the council needs to provide free transport for these learners.  Bridgend County Borough Council is one of the few councils in Wales currently offering such a generous provision and the council understands that there may be an impact on learners and their families as a result of these proposals.

In an ideal world, everyone would travel for free, irrespective of cost, but we have to be realistic in the face of unprecedented cuts to our budget.

We take pride in the services we provide to our residents and want to continue to do as much as possible to support families in a difficult financial climate. These cuts, however, mean that we must review all of the services that we provide.

It is important that the council understands the impact of these proposals, so I hope as many people as possible will take part in this consultation, consider the various options that have been identified, and tell us what they think. We want to continue to seek to protect the most vulnerable members of the community and target our resources where they are needed most, but we are going to need your help to be able to do so effectively.

Councillor Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration

The consultation ends on 5 January 2020 and can be completed online on our consultation web page.

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