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Upper Wharfedale School 'could struggle' without bus subsidy
11:00am Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
A school faced with losing its subsidised pupil transport might have to look to its own budget, Craven councillors were told.
Councillors were voicing concerns that the possible withdrawal of a subsidised bus service for Skipton and Gargrave pupils of Upper Wharfedale School, Threshfield, could lead to a dramatic fall in numbers and put the future of the school in doubt.
Concern was also raised that a large number of people relied on employment at the school and it was central to the community.
Coun Polly English (Lib Dem) said there were currently 94 children at the school who travelled from Skipton and Gargrave and without them the school would struggle.
It was further pointed out that if Upper Wharfedale was forced to close, the council would then be legally obliged to transport the children from the area into Skipton.
Richard Owens, North Yorkshire County Council’s assistant director of integrated passenger transport, told last week’s select committee of Craven District Council that the services would not necessarily be withdrawn. He said the council was aware of the implications, discussions were taking place with its children and young person’s services and the school itself could fund the transport.
“We will be talking carefully to our colleagues in the children and young person’s service. We are conscious of the fact that if Upper Wharfedale did not exist, we would have to transport children to Skipton and we are not going to do something that does not make sense,” he said.
It was he said a “school funding issue”, and not a “transport issue”. “It could also mean the school itself thinking about funding the transport,” he said.
But he stressed the council was faced with having to make savings of £92 million in four years up to April 2015, and around £77 million more in the four years after that.
As part of the savings, it is currently proposing a 25 per cent reduction in its subsidised bus routes, which include buses taking children to preferred rather than ‘normal’ (within catchment) schools and a reduction on quieter bus routes.
Mr Owens said it was not the intention to leave communities isolated and there were other options available, including Dial a Ride and taxi-sharing.
Children will continue to receive subsidised bus transport to Upper Wharfedale School from Gargrave and Skipton to the end of the school year in July. The consultation on subsidised bus transport began on September 16 and is due to end on December 6, with a report going before the council in January next year.
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