Cheshire East Council proposes school travel cuts to save £570k

CREDIT: This story was first seen in the Crewe and Norwich Guardian

Borough chiefs intend to cut school travel services for eight to 11-year-olds who live between two and three miles away from their nearest school, the Crewe and Norwich Guardian reports.

The proposal would mean that primary school pupils aged eight to 11 must live further than three miles away from their nearest school to qualify for free transport – rather than the existing threshold of more than two miles.

It is one of the proposals in the education transport policy, which Cheshire East Council will consult members of the public on from Wednesday.

The education transport policy features 12 proposals designed to save the council up to £570,000 over the next two financial years from its current spend on school transport of £8.9m.

CEC argues the changes, which also include the end of free travel for schoolchildren with disabled parents, would bring it into line with other councils.

Cllr George Hayes, cabinet member for children and families at CEC, said: “I would encourage everyone to tell us what they think and provide suggestions on what exceptions the council should consider and why.

“This consultation is an opportunity to influence the policies before they are adopted by the council.”

Other proposals within the policy include an end for free travel for children with temporary medical needs on the grounds of those needs, and tighter restrictions on free travel for some students with special educational needs (SEN).

Within the policy there is the proposal to extend direct payments, so that parents who are eligible for travel support can make their own transport arrangements if this is a lower-cost option.

Also proposed is a new training scheme to support young people who have an education, health and care plan, where appropriate, to travel independently to school.

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The consultation, which will run until Friday, November 24, was confirmed at last week’s cabinet meeting – where Cllr Dorothy Flude, Labour councillor for Crewe South and member of the children and families overview and scrutiny committee, raised concers at the draft policy.

“We transport 700 children who have a SEN diagnosis,” she told the cabinet.

“Changes for this group of children can be very challenging for the children and for their parents.

“My view is that the savings to some extent are unrealistic, and something tells me that the appeals process could be very, very busy in future.”

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