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School bus fares hike in the pipeline
7:00pm Saturday 5th October 2013 in News
PARENTS of children who attend faith schools in Somerset could face paying hundreds of pounds extra for transport every year if a local authority cut is approved.
Somerset County Council says it wants to slash its subsidy towards the cost of bus fares by more than £360 a pupil from September 2014.
Currently the council pays an average of £440 to transport a student to a faith school each year, with parents picking up the remaining £238.70.
But under proposals unveiled this week parents would face paying £602.25 per year, per child, for the transport service.
Council children’s chief Cllr Frances Nicholson said: “The proposals have been put together in response to the feedback we received to previous proposals on the issue of faith transport subsidies.
“It’s important that we hear the views of the public and that we take that into account when we are considering changes like this.”
Parents of children at non-faith schools currently pay an average of £602.25 a year for a bus place.
About 200 children in the county currently receive subsidised transport to faith schools from the council.
Parents affected by the change have been contacted directly and invited to comment on the proposals.
Members of the wider public are also being asked to give their views. The closing date for the consultation is November 4.
The cuts were consulted on earlier this year and originally suggested the council would withdraw from discretionary faith transport altogether.
The council says its new proposals ‘follow feedback which indicated withdrawing from faith transport could have a significant impact on some schools and communities.’
A decision on whether or not the cut will be made is expected in December.
To have a say on the issue visit www.somersetconsults.org.uk/consult.ti