Consultation begins on school transport

NADV 1302056AM Follifoot bus. The Harrogate bus on route through Follifoot. (1302056AM)

NADV 1302056AM Follifoot bus. The Harrogate bus on route through Follifoot. (1302056AM)

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Subsidised school bus travel for over 16s is now under threat as North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) looks to make “massive” budget cuts.

As revealed in the Advertiser last week, the authority is looking to cut its school transport budget by £400,000 to meet targeted savings of £92m by 2015 and a further £77m by 2019.

It is looking at slashing its overall bus subsidies by £1.1m across the county, cutting some routes, reducing others, and bringing in changes to many school services.

Now it has revealed more details which include a consultation on plans to save £200,000 by asking 1,800 children over the age of 16 to pay more towards the cost of their place on the school bus.

“The county council is having to make massive savings and is therefore faced with very difficult decisions and choices about where savings can be made,” said County Coun Arthur Barker, executive member for post-16 education.

“But the authority is also looking at ways services can be delivered differently.”

NYCC, already committed to making cuts of £92m by 2015, must now find a further £77m by 2019 following recent Government announcements.

In July this year council members agreed to consult on a number of proposed savings, including slashing budgets for school bus travel for over 16s by £400,000.

Now, the council is to consult further on plans which would ask 1,800 students, at 31 colleges and 36 schools across the county, to pay more towards their place on the school bus.

“In these difficult times it is inevitable that the nature of services and the way they are delivered will continue to change,” said a council statement.

At present, most students pay a contribution of £360 a year to travel costs. The consultation is looking at proposals to ask them to pay £480, with any changes to be introduced in September next year.

“The education and training of our young people is a priority and therefore we hope to work with schools and colleges so that post-16 transport assistance can be managed locally in the longer term,” said County Coun Barker.

“We believe this may be a more cost-effective way of ensuring that all of our young people post-16 are able to access the necessary education and training provision.”

What do you think? Write to the Editor, 1 Cardale Park, Harrogate, HG3 1RZ, email ackrill.news@ypn.co.uk or contact the Advertiser on Twitter @HarrogateHound.