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Call for rethink of Oxfordshire school bus proposals
9:30am Friday 5th July 2013 in News
TRANSPORT chiefs have been asked to go back to the drawing board with plans to shake up home to school transport.
The county council’s education scrutiny committee yesterday called on the cabinet to review plans to withdraw free transport from families who do not choose to send their children to their nearest school.
The proposals, which will save £340,000 a year, and a consultation on the plans were criticised by councillors from across the political divide.
Every council has a legal duty to provide free home to school transport for children if their nearest school is more than three miles away, providing those three miles constitute a safe walking route.
At the moment Oxfordshire school children receive free transport even if their parents have chosen a school further away than their nearest choice, but officers want that to change.
The deadline for responses to the original consultation, which was launched at the beginning of June, has been extended until July 15 after more than 1,200 people responded.
But councillors said plans for the cabinet to make a decision on July 16 would come too soon after that deadline, and that rushing through the changes could lead to a legal challenge.
Shrivenham councillor Yvonne Constance said: “To be told that a substantive report will be made available between this meeting and the decision on July 16 does not impress me. If I was on the other side of this I would be heading straight to a Judicial Review.
Witney West and Bampton councillor Simon Hoare said: “For all of this work and for all of this palava, we are only going to be saving £340,000. It doesn’t seem worth it to me.”
Cabinet member for schools Melinda Tilley said: “We need to look at what they have said.”
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