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Fears bus subsidy cuts could damage schools
8:00am Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
Proposed cuts in subsidised school transport could have a devastating impact on schools, councillors have warned.
North Yorkshire County Council is planning to slash the cost of bus services in the county to make £1.1 million of extra savings demanded by the Government.
Among the proposals which have gone out for consultation is stopping services taking pupils to a school which is not deemed to be the “normal” school for their home address.
Coun Polly English told Craven’s Area Committee that about 110 children opted to go to Upper Wharfedale from Skipton and Gargrave, and if the service was withdrawn many families would not be able to afford travel costs and the viability of the school could be threatened.
Parents, who last year fought off plans to withdraw the service, currently pay £6 a day for each child to get to the school.
“They would probably have to go to Aireville School in Skipton, which would put extra pressure on a school which is already in special measures,” she said.
Councillors who met in St Peter’s Church Hall in Cross Hills, heard that the cuts could see a reduction in bus services, the withdrawal of subsidies, especially to town services like Skipton and wide-scale changes in school bus provision.
If the proposals went ahead, however, there could be more dial-a-ride provision, which would include a door-to-door service, block booking and fares would be kept down to £1.
Catherine Price, of North Yorkshire County Council’s integrated passenger transport service, who presented the report, said the proposed saving added up to about £1.5 million, giving scope for flexibility.
“While the council is committed ted to investing in public transport, we have to look at reducing the amount of money we spend to support bus services in the county by £1.1 million,” she said.
“No decision to withdraw bus subsidies will be taken without careful consideration of the results of the consultation exercise.”
Lois Brown, of Cononley Parish Council, made a special plea to keep the Saturday 78A journey from Airedale Hospital at Steeton to Skipton, which is proposed to be axed. She described it as especially important for elderly people visiting the hospital.
Consultation is to run until November 25, with the final report being submitted to the scrutiny committee on December 19. The final decision is due on January 7.
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