Proposed school bus changes set to be axed

PROPOSALS to withdraw free travel from faith school pupils look set to be ditched after an outcry by parents.

The plans would also have led to students over the age of 16 losing their 50 per cent discount on travel to school or college.

A consultation on the proposed changes to North Tyneside Council’s home-to-school transport policy triggered more than 1,800 responses, most of them opposed to the plans.

The authority’s cabinet will take that feedback into account when it makes a decision on the policy at its meeting on Monday.

Cabinet members are being recommended to drop the proposals and leave things as they are.

Mayor Linda Arkley said: “It was important to carry out this consultation so that residents and stakeholders’ views could be taken into consideration when officers were re-evaluating the policy.

“We’re very pleased that so many people took the time to make their views known to us, and we have listened to what our residents have told us.”

The current arrangements offer free transport to pupils aged up to eight travelling more than two miles, and to older pupils travelling more than three miles, to schools chosen on grounds of faith.

Pupils from low income families are entitled to free transport, regardless of their choice of school.

The council received more than 1,800 responses to the consultation, which included headteachers, governors, parents, Diocesan authorities, other neighbouring councils, and school officials from faith schools outside the borough.

The majority were strongly opposed to any changes to the current support.

Officers have also taken into consideration the implications the changes would have had on those just above the free school meals threshold.

In addition, other savings have already been identified which will reduce transport costs, helping support faith school and post-16 travel if backed by the cabinet.