Bus funding cuts could hit pupils

By Harriet Ernstsons Friday 06 December 2013 Updated: 06/12 11:24

SCHOOLS attended by pupils outside the catchment area could be heavily affected by proposed county council cuts to bus funding, an officer has warned.

A Choose How You Move officer told Redditch councillors there may be 'other ramifications' associated with the proposed axing of subsidies for buses across the county.

As reported by the Standard last month, all routes currently supported by Worcestershire County Council could have their funding withdrawn depending on the results of a public consultation.

But speaking at a Redditch Highways and Transportation meeting, Michele Jones warned the impact could be much higher, with the potential for effects on students attending schools outside of the catchment area - which means the county council does not have a legal duty to provide public transport for them.

"For the schools, the pupils can't get there, there are children out of catchment that choose to go there that probably wouldn't go there, it affects the whole sustainability of that school going forward."

Coun Pattie Hill, who represents Arrow Valley West on the county council, said: "I am very worried because we have been spreading the word as many times as we can but people seem to all be concerned about two services. The impact on school needs to come out a lot more."

Coun Robin Lunn, who represents Redditch North, added the results could see more parents driving their children to school, which would undermine the aims of the Choose How You Move project which is geared towards getting residents to use more sustainable methods of travel.

But Coun John Smith, responsible for highways, said the financial challenge the council was facing meant they had tough decisions to make.

"These proposals look to withdraw all funding for subsidised services but we need to hear what people think about the plans before a final decision is made in February 2014," he said.

"It is important to clarify the county council has a duty to provide transport to students for those where there is a statutory legal requirement to do so.

"It is also important to remember that the vast majority of bus services (over 85 per cent) in Worcestershire are run commercially and won't be affected."

Visit www.worcestershireshire.gov.uk/busservicereview to complete a questionnaire on the issue.

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