Free bus passes for students in Silsden, Steeton and Addingham could end

Craven Herald: Councillor Adrian Naylor Councillor Adrian Naylor

Students in Silsden, Steeton and Addingham could lose their free bus passes as Bradford Council tries to save £89 million over the next two years.

Councillor Adrian Naylor (Ind, Craven) said it could have a significant impact on local children of secondary school age and is urging residents to take part in consultation over which groups should lose free school travel.

“I want as many people as possible to be aware of this consultation,” he said.

Silsden mayor Chris Atkinson said he feared youngsters who attended South Craven School and University Academy Keighley would in future have to pay for their travel.

His comments come after Bradford Council revealed plans to reduce the number of children who qualify for assisted school transport in response to upcoming budget reductions.

A consultation to gain the views of parents, teachers, governors and other interested parties will run until February 13.

The council said that despite cuts to a number of different groups, pupils who already received free transport would not be affected.

Among the groups who could see free transport axed are children aged two to five with special educational needs; pupils who attend certain schools because of their faith; pupils whose parents have moved home but decided to keep them at the original school and pupils who attend a school that is beyond the statutory walking distance from their home.

Coun Atkinson, along with Coun Naylor, claim that many local youngsters could be affected because they attend secondary schools beyond the statutory walking distance of two miles.

These include University Academy Keighley, South Craven School in Cross Hills and Ilkley Grammar School.

Coun Atkinson described Bradford’s proposal as a “worrying development” for children in rural communities.”

He said. “There are no secondary schools within walking distance for most of these communities and very often no direct public transport.

“The consultation is aimed at individual needs and residents’ points are needed for Bradford to be forced to give a proper understanding of our unique needs.”

Coun Atkinson plans to talk with head teachers of the schools affected to ensure that parents know of the implications.

People can view consultation documents by visiting bradford.gov.uk/bmdc/consultations or emailing paul.hart@bradford.gov.uk.

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