Notts: Tory anger as Labour propose cutting kids’ travel scheme

Guardian News
Guardian News

Conservative councillors have responded angrily to Labour plans to axe a scheme providing free travel to school for some children.

The Discretionary Travel Scheme was introduced in 2011, and considered applications for free travel for a number of children otherwise ineligible for free transport.

The Labour group state that the scheme is used by just five per cent of eligible pupils, and dropping the scheme to cut costs would not have a damaging impact on pupils and their families.

The proposal will go before a council committee on Wednesday 18th September.

However, Councillor Philip Owen, Conservative spokesman for children and young people’s services, said: “This disgraceful proposal is driven by socialist ideology and has nothing to do with cost and budget savings.”

“Labour claim that cutting the Conservatives’ free travel scheme will save £1.7 million over four years, yet they plan to increase the council’s wage bill by £5.5 million over the same period.”

“Their consultation was a sham, conducted during August while families were on holiday and governing bodies were not meeting.”

“Despite this, there was still decisive feedback with 91% of online responses wanting free school travel to continue.”

The consultation highlighted a number of objections to the proposed scrapping of the scheme, including a number from parents at faith schools who claimed the move was prejudicial.

Authors of the subsequent report stated that provision would be met through other means, and that the legal right to choose a school and have travel provided would not be affected.

Coun Owen added: “The truth is that Labour councillors resent parents having more choice and flexibility over which school to send their child.”

“They always planned to scrap our travel scheme if they got back into power, but of course they didn’t mention this during their election campaign.”