Thursday, 10 September 2015

£250 post-sixteen transport charge on its way - updated

September 24th; Despite councillors at the scrutiny meeting asking to defer the consultation until further information could be gathered, it's gone ahead anyway and can be found on the council website should you wish to add your views. However, you are only presented with two options; lose it or pay for it.

September 18th; The Carmarthenshire Herald reports that councillors at today's scrutiny meeting decided to defer the start of consultation until they have received more information. Apparently Cllr Peter Hughes Griffiths hair was 'standing on end'.


A joint scrutiny meeting next week will kick start a consultation on the introduction of charges for home to college/school transport for youngsters over sixteen from September next year. This was a budget proposal controversially approved by the council in Feburary after being rejected in previous years. The council hopes to save around £400,000 by 2018.

The charges will be between £200 to £250 per year and payment will be required before a travel pass is issued. The charge, as it stands at the moment, will also be imposed on pupils with Special Educational Needs. The proposal is to exempt pupils receiving free school meals from the charge, and also pupils who are currently at Pantycelyn School in Llandovery, until it shortly closes it's doors for good.

The consultation will not be offering the option of actually rejecting the charges, it will be asking for comment on the finer details, which it can then choose to ignore.

As it is not a Statutory service, the council can choose to withdraw support and introduce these charges, they claim that as EMA is available to post-16's, this will help cover the cost. The problem is that whilst the council have ticked their 'equalities' boxes, it discriminates against those who live in the vast areas of rural Carmarthenshire, particularly in the north and east, and also against families on low incomes but who are not eligible for free dinners.

The decision to continue post-16 education should be encouraged as much as possible, even by the council, and speaking from local experience the introduction of these charges will simply tip the balance for many 16 year olds and their families against continuing with full time education at all.


Owen said...

It looks as though home-school (or college) transport is seen as low-hanging fruit by local authorities across Wales. There've been similar proposals in Bridgend, though anyone living less than 3 miles from a secondary school will have to pay £361 a year. BCBC were originally going to hike that to £670. The the original plans were to scrap all free/subsidised transport altogether for over-16s, but they've postponed that and will review it.

School buses matter more in rural authorities like Carmarthenshire, but even relatively urbanised authorities like Bridgend lack 100% safe routes to school or college for walking and cycling. All this will do it put more cars on the road during rush hour.

Anonymous said...

in the SE of Carms there is competition from Gower College who recruits brighter pupils from the Llanelli and Carmarthen areas and runs buses for them at about 40 pounds p.a. more than their county pupils. The new charges will make education out of county for the brightest more attractive, and the educational attainment of the Carms Colleges may drop as the cream is skimmed off to make another county look better!