Prices to rise in school bus and taxi review?

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Garstang’s County Councillor Sandra Perkins is urging the public to contact her with their views on controversial proposals to raise charges for school buses and review services.

Lancashire County Council has announced a public consultation until November 29 on a wide ranging review of bus charges and transport provision for pupils at the county’s schools.

Coun Perkins is concerned how the proposed changes, which include a review of taxi provision for pupils living in remote rural areas, would impact on those living in the countryside and on school attendance. The Independent councillor, said: “Anybody who has any worrries about this at all must get in touch with me.

“We must ensure all children have an equal opportunity of getting to the school of their choice.”

The council currently spends £8.5m on providing home to school transport, but about half of that is ‘discretionary’ – support provided in addition to what is legally required. It says faced with widespread cuts in its budget it has no alternative but to review pupils’ transport arrangements.

Cabinet member Coun Matthew Tomlinson, said: “We are currently faced with making unprecedented savings in the region of £300m and we must look at all of our spending, especially on services that we have no legal requirement to provide.

“I know that no-one wants to either lose free transport or pay more for it, but unfortunately we are in the position of having to consult about these difficult decisions.”

Proposals also include an increase in the contribution by 25 per cent for those parents who already pay towards transport to faith schools, a rise in school bus fares by up to 60p per return journey for those not eligible for statutory transport, a reduction in the number of people who qualify for free transport and changes to eligibility criteria.

Those on low income will still receive support.

Full details can be seen at: www.lancashire.gov.uk/haveyoursay or telephone 01772 531878.