Powys’ schools transport policy needs to
be reviewed, says Montgomeryshire Senedd member.
Many pupils in Powys are being refused free school transport due to the inflexibility of a county council’s policy on it, according to Russell George, Montgomeryshire’s Member of the Senedd.
Powys County Council has a duty to provide pupils with free transport to their nearest suitable school if children live over a certain distance from the school. But many parents have expressed concerns about the inflexibility of the current policy for free home to school transport, particularly where there are very marginal distances involved.
Mr George said he has received a number of complaints from parents regarding the council’s policy and recently and has met with residents who have been impacted by what they feel is an unfair application of the county council’s transport policy.
Due to the current transport policy, one family has set up a petition that is calling for full consideration to be given to all Powys children's unique situations when they live in a crossover area between school catchment areas.
Jenni Hughes-Ellis, whose son has been refused free school transport to Llanidloes CP School, has set up a petition on the matter and led a campaign calling for the council to review and change its policy. The petition is calling on the authority to allow flexibility in situations where the difference in distance from the pupil's home to either school is less than one mile.
Mr George said: “Over the last year, I have seen an increasing number of people coming to my office raising issues concerning Powys County Council’s provision of free home to school transport. The current policy needs to be revised and updated.
''With Powys County Council’s ongoing decisions regarding what it refers to as ‘schools transformation’, which includes some schools being considered for closure or school language categories changing, it is important that their transport policy is regularly revisited in order to ensure fairness and transparency. I fully support this petition and agree that there needs to be more flexibility where distances are so marginal.''
''Powys’ ‘Home to School’ transport policy should also allow all pupils and families to be treated fairly, regardless of faith or language choice. The process should also allow for individuals’ unique circumstances to be taken into full consideration before decisions are made.''
''Clearly, free home to school transport comes at a cost to Powys County Council and so it is also fundamental that the Welsh Government, when funding Powys County Council, take on board the rurality of Powys and the increased costs of providing home to school transport here.
“This is something which I have raised regularly with Welsh Government ministers and taken up again last month with the council.”
You can find the petition that is supported by Russell George MS here: https://www.change.org/p/powys-county-council-fair-access-to-school-transport-in-rural-communities