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Councillors agree to fund out of county travel

 
Created on 15/09/2020 @ 21:38
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Students from Newtown will be able to travel to sixth forms outside Powys, such as Shrewsbury, with support for travel costs.

It followed a u-turn by councillors yesterday which would have seen out of Powys school transport cut to help save the county £75,000.

But that is a drop in the ocean compared to the £10 million school transport bill.

Instead, councillors said that as Powys sixth forms did not necessarily provide all the courses that students wanted, the young people should be provided with travel subsidy.

Some students travel from the area to Shrewsbury by train and bus.

At their meeting on Tuesday, councillors were told of the results of a consultation held in June and July which saw a major change in the Home to School Transport Policy.

Following criticism in the consultation, officers advised that Cabinet drop the proposal to stop paying out of Powys travel expenses for  16 to 19 year old students.

This means the £75,000 saving expected from to the Home to School Transport policy will not materialise.

Powys County Council (PCC) spends around £10 million a year on school transport, and they are under no obligation to pay for post-16 education transport.

Finance and Transport portfolio holder, Cllr Aled Davies, said: “It’s important that when you go out to consultation you take on board people’s comments.

“Maybe we don’t accept them all but it’s important to listen.

“If you refuse to change anything, there’s hardly any point of running a consultation.

“This transport policy reflects the situation in our current education system and we will have to review and revisit the policy as we go through our transformation agenda.”

On the post-16 provision and the u-turn on the £75,000 saving proposal, Cllr Davies said that what was being offered by sixth forms and colleges was “not quite good enough yet.”

He added that some courses were “not available in Powys.”

Former Education portfolio holder and current Adult Social Services portfolio holder, Cllr Myfanwy Alexander, said: “It’s true to say given the large scale educational transformation that’s underway, this policy will become less and less needed for post-16 transport.”

She quoted the saying “you don’t go out for a hamburger when you have steak at home."

Cllr Alexander added: “The cost will be less relevant as well advised youngsters find they have top quality courses on their doorstep.

“No-one wants to get very early to travel further, and it’s our job to put that right.”

To be eligible for free school bus, pupils need to live more than two miles away from their primary school and three miles away from a secondary school.

Part of the policy includes access to Welsh medium education and legally , PCC is obliged to provide and promote access to education and training in the Welsh language

The decision was supported unanimously and will come into force in September 2021.
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