Reminder to participate in the Home to School Transport consultation

Politics / Wed 9th Oct 2013 am31 06:44am

RESIDENTS are reminded they only have till Friday 25 October to participate in Essex County Council’s formal public consultation into the discretionary elements of its home to school transport policy.

The local authority currently spends over £25million on ensuring children across the county can attend school. However, maintaining expenditure at this level in the current financial climate is unsustainable and the council is looking at where efficiency savings can be made.

The authority has a number of statutory responsibilities around the provision of home to school transport which are not affected by the consultation, however a number of the discretionary elements of the existing policy are under review. These include consulting on:

Changing the reference to catchment area within the assessment of entitlement to home to school transport policy and removing the use of joint catchment areas and instead only provide transport to the nearest school to the home address where statutory walking distances are met

Removing existing transport from routes which are now deemed safe walking routes

Withdrawing the provision of transport to families on a low income whose child(ren) attend a selective (grammar) school

Introducing a means tested assessment for transport provided to pupils in exceptional circumstances

Introducing a new application window for Home to School Transport applications

Reviewing existing Post 16 transport provision

All elements are explained in full detail in the consultation documentation.

Essex County Councillor Ray Gooding, Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “Quite simply we need to save money right across the board and this means a review of the discretionary elements of our Home to School Transport policy.

“We do not have the level of funding to continue providing the same levels of service that we have provided to students in the past. The existing discretionary transport policy is incredibly generous, but it is complicated, unfair and outdated. We need to review our existing policy to make sure it is simple, fair, consistent and transparent and to ensure that in the long term the local authority can provide for those who need our support the most.”

The consultation, plus all accompanying literature and documentation is available on www.essexinsight.org.uk/consultations. To submit further comments complete the questionnaire or email [email protected]

Due to the volume of correspondence expected Essex County Council will not respond to individual enquiries or comments but these will be considered as part of the consultation response.

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