A CONSULTATION has been launched on the future of home to school transport in Craven.

North Yorkshire Council is urging parents, schools and all those with an interest in school travel to take part in its review covering the whole of the county.

A series of information events are taking place, from March 18 in Skipton, Threshfield and Ingleton, as well as an online survey which can be filled in up to the consultation deadline on April 12.

The council says because of the 'challenging financial climate' it needs to review the service, which costs the authority £42million this current financial year and is its third largest item of revenue expenditure for the council, after adult social care and waste management, with figures doubling since 2015-2016.

At an executive meeting held on Tuesday, January 23, the elected member for education, learning and skills approved a consultation to review the policy following updates for DfE guidance.

The consultation will now seek the views of parents, carers, pupils and schools on reviewing the discretionary elements. Any proposed changes to future transport provision will be implemented over a seven-year phased period.

Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, the council's executive member for education, learning and skills, said: “We are in a stronger position than most, but we must strike the right balance to fulfil the competing needs of our statutory services while ensuring other services are sustainable.

“The council spends approximately £1m per school week on home to school transport. Any pupil currently receiving home to school transport under the eligibility criteria of the current policy will continue to do so. The consultation will take on board the views of parents, carers, pupils, schools and partners about proposed changes over a seven-year period. We would like to receive as many views as possible.

“It is important know what you think of these proposals. Please use this opportunity to have your say by submitting your feedback during the consultation period. Thank you.”

The council’s assistant director of education and skills, Amanda Newbold, added: “We would like to reassure parents and carers that no-one will lose what they currently have in terms of home to school transport provision. However, with rising transport costs it is our duty to look at ways to bring down such costs in the future and this calls for careful review due to the challenging financial times we are in.

“The review of the transport policy does not affect where your child goes to school – that is still your choice. The review will look at the overall eligibility to access free travel to your child's nearest school and how that can be delivered in a fair and economical way.

The consultation, which runs until April 12, includes a survey. Parents and carers interested in giving their feedback to the consultation on home to school travel are encouraged to complete the survey at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/survey/h2sc

Information events will take place at Skipton Town Hall on Monday, March 18 from 1.30pm to 2.30pm, and on the same day at Upper Wharfedale School, Threshfield, from 5.30pm to 6.30pm. On Thursday, March 21, there will be one at Ingleborough Community Centre, Ingleton, from 1.30pm to 2.30pm.