Labour controlled Nottinghamshire County Council recently ‘consulted’ on their proposal to end a Discretionary Travel Scheme introduced by the
Conservatives in 2011.
The scheme gave parents more control by providing children with free travel to attend the school of their choice within the county.
It delivered on a pledge in the Conservatives 2009 county election manifesto and was disliked by Labour, who always preferred to prescribe the schools a child should attend.
Labour naturally did not reveal their plans to scrap the scheme in their preelection pledges. They waited until July to announce their intentions and their subsequent ‘consultation’ was scheduled during the summer holidays when many families were away and school governing bodies do not meet.
There was still a decisive outcome to the survey with just over 91% of online respondents wanting to keep the scheme and only 7.5% wanting to stop it, but this made no difference.
At Policy Committee on 18th September, Labour Councillors duly voted to scrap it.
This is devastating news for families I represent in Misterton, a large and rural electoral division. Several parents use the scheme to send their children to preferred schools a distance away whereas, previously, the cost of transport to schools outside the prescribed catchment area would have been prohibitive.
Thanks to Labour we now return to the ‘old’ situation where families who just miss the threshold for travel assistance will have less choice over their child’s education. Younger siblings might not be able to join their brother or sister at the same school.
I want to thank residents who took part in the consultation and tried to change this ill-conceived and ideologically driven decision, but it appears that
Labour’s consultation document was not worth the paper it was written on.
The council has just launched its initial budget consultation for 2014/15, but it seems some policy decisions are already made.
County Councillor Liz Yates