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Free school buses are likely to be slashed

County Hall in Lewes, the headquarters of East Sussex County Council

County Hall in Lewes, the headquarters of East Sussex County Council

Free school transport looks set to be slashed under East Sussex County Council proposals as it tries to find savings of £114million in the next ten years.

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) said free school transport rules are set to be changed under proposed budget saving measures. ESCC is proposing to remove the link between school catchment areas and eligibility for free home to school travel from September 2015 and are giving parents the opportunity to have their say via an on-line consultation.

The county is divided into ‘community areas’ served by a specific school or schools known as the ‘designated’ school, with children receiving a higher priority when applying to attend schools serving their community area. At present, youngsters who live more than three miles away, or two miles for under-eights, receive free travel to their designated school. ESCC say under the proposals, this rule would be changed so that eligible children would receive free transport to the nearest suitable school, which could be inside or outside their community area - if this is over the required distance away.

Under the current transport policy, if schools’ community areas change this could impact on transport costs in the future. The council says removing the link between schools’ admission policies and home to school transport policy would give it greater control over its school transport budget.

Children currently in receipt of free home to school transport would continue to receive this until their circumstances changed, for example if they moved home or changed school. Cllr Nick Bennett, ESCC lead member for learning and school effectiveness, said the council are facing £110 million budget cuts in the decade to 2020 and the proposals are aimed at ensuring they maintain control over spending on home to school transport in the long-term future,The consultation is available to complete online until April 3 at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/haveyoursay

 

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