Controversial school transport plan goes under council scrutiny

This live event has finished

Latest

  • COUNCIL members are able to call-in a review of a decision made by cabinet or a cabinet member after it has been made but before it has been implemented.
  • The committee has no power to overturn a decision made by cabinet however, it can only request the cabinet to reconsider its decision.

1:45pm

12:28pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Frustrated2014 says

Frustrating! We feel we are being penalised for choosing to support our local catchment school. This is something we strongly believe in and don't think parents should have a 'choice'. We should all want what is best for ALL children, not just our own. I cannot believe how often families remove their children from their local community to attend another school. The Hereford Councils proposed changes penalise families who support their local schools. It is appalling.

1:45pm

1:30pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Ladybird2000 says

More openess please - I am fortunate in that the proposal does not affect my child however it is so infuriating that the council proposes such an unfair proposal that penalises families who choose to send their children to a school that may not be the nearest one. I would like to know the exact cost of sending my child to school and see the equivalent funding be given to the school to provide their own school transport. Once again the rural community is an easy target for the council.

1:02pm

Full list of recommendations to follow.

For now, please let us know what you think about the proposal and whether you're glad that the decision will be reconsidered.

We'll have a full report in next week's paper and online so send your own comments to Jessica.phillips@herefordtimes.com, to our Facebook page or on Twitter @HTnewsroom

Thanks for following our live blog and enjoy the rest of your day!

12:57pm

Also want to create a task and finish group to address the issues discussed in terms of bursaries.

And they want the cabinet member to review and re-set the full cost impact of this decision.

 

12:55pm

They want support given to parents and schools in terms of accessing bursaries.

 

12:51pm

Full list of recommendations to follow.

In summary, committee members want cabinet to look at phasing in the policy later than planned to give parents more time.

They want that time between to be used for the council to demonstrate the improvements that could be achieved through negotiations with providers and schools on a more integrated approach to transport.

12:45pm

The committee will be sending a list of recommendations back to cabinet.

Clear that there are major concerns about several aspects of the proposals.

 

12:36pm

Committee now taking votes on all recommendations. 

12:30pm

Officer states this document was out together before the decision was made it consultation has ma people aware of what is going on.

Coun Harvey says she is concerned this will mean anyone who does not have access to online resources will not have been aware of the potential issues and changes set to go ahead.

12:26pm

Coun Harvey says she "really struggled" to find where it stated clearly in the documentation for parents regarding school places and applications that a decision was pending by cabinet which could influence their decision.

12:26pm

Coun Harvey says she "really struggled" to find where it stated clearly in the documentation for parents regarding school places and applications that a decision was pending by cabinet which could influence their decision.

12:22pm

Coun Powers says regard must be given to schools' and parents' timetables in terms of phasing in the policy.

12:14pm

Since becoming a councillor in 2011, coun Harvey says she has heard an "awful lot" of talk sbout getting joined up and doing common commissioning about transport. 

She would like confidence as a councillor that the council will do what it has been saying it will do for a long time.

Wants action on the ground and evidence to give confidence that overall improvements to sustainability will actually happen.

12:10pm

Members now discussing sustainable modes of transport.

Coun Hubbard says the policy will add cars to the road, an argument to say the opposite is inaccurate.

Parents choose schools because they want the best for their children - that is the "driving factor".

12:06pm

Coun Wilcox recommends deleting part E of cabinet's decision - to introduce the annual charge of £720 annually from April - and reconsider.

12:04pm

Members have been discussing post-16 SEN transport policy. 

Many concerns about changing the current system and coun Swinford notes that the bursaries could see money given to families lost elsewhere.

 

12:03pm

Members have been discussing post-16 SEN transport policy. 

Many concerns about changing the current system and coun Swinford notes that the bursaries could see money given to families lost elsewhere.

 

11:59am

The Hereford Times front page referred to by Coun Stone.

11:58am

Hereford Times:

11:36am

Committee has stopped for a five-minute break. 

11:31am

Coun Wilcox says he does not accept this criticism - another event was going on this morning which the chairman was made aware of.

11:26am

Cabinet member, Patricia Morgan has now left the committee meeting.

No member of the cabinet is now present.

Coun Seldon wants it noted that this is "frankly appalling". 

11:16am

A recommendation has also been made to see that bursaries are fully explored with the families of those that are affected.

11:13am

Parents have expressed concerns that their comments to the first phase of the consultation did not appear, in the way the results have been presented, to have been carried across into the second consultation, says coun Harvey.

Assured by officers that all responses were carried across. 

11:06am

Only one recommendation can be made, says coun Matthews. 

"The report needs a lot to be done with it. Needs to be sent back to officers to have another look."

11:00am

Coun Harvey makes a recommendation regarding the disproportionate effect the decision will have on a few schools in particular.

Proposes thst urgent meetings are held with the schools identified as being impacted most highly by this.

Their local transport providers, community transport in the area and officers to scope the impact of this decision and to agree urgent mitigating measures.

10:40am

Coun John Stone refers councillors to a Hereford Times article from October.

It shows children, from Brimfield and Orleton, who may have to consider going to different schools or parents having to pay a considerable amount for transport to their current school.

Shows the impact the decision has on real communities, he says.

10:34am

Council will be sending buses "everywhere" says councillor Patricia Morgan in response. 

Councillors need to have a "sense of realism" about the situations being faced, she adds.

10:32am

Councillor Attwood says that if young pupils go to school in Worcestershire - if that is where the nearest school is - children will be likely to stay in that county.

Has both long-term and short-term effects. 

"Sends all the wrong messages and lets down schools, parents and children."

 

10:24am

Coun Harvey makes a recommendation.

"Given that the total cost impact of the decision appears to exceed the savings being set, that this committee recommends the cabinet member reviews and re-sets the financial impact of this as a decision on the total council finances, including the schools grant."

10:21am

A bursary of £1,200 would be available to post-16 SEN students, says coun Millar.

This would cover the cost of transport - £720 from April 2014.

10:13am

"I don't believe the cost savings will hold-up. We may be able to make some savings on the school transport budget but that will put extra pressures on the social care budget," says councillor Jim Kenyon.

10:10am

Will you be a parent affected by the changes to school transport in the county? 

Let us know what you think about cabinet's decision. 

10:08am

Councillor Barry Durkin says the committee should have had the opportunity to discuss the proposals ahead of cabinet making their decision.

"A document of this importance should be looked at as soon as possible." 

Chairman of the committee, Alan Seldon, says it was his decision to look at the decision after it had been made for impact assessment. 

9:54am

Herefordshire has the best performing schools in the council's comparative group, coun Harvey says.

 

 

9:53am

Herefordshire has the best performing schools in the council's comparative group, coun Harvey says.

Which is why parents want their children to go to them.

 

9:51am

There could be around 180 young people maximum going out of the county to schools Mr Hough says.

 

9:47am

To parents on the receiving end of the decision, the distinction between transport not being provided and children being forced out of schools is "semantic", says coun Harvey.

9:45am

SEN students are not being asked to pay full cost recovery, she adds.

Instead, a contribution is being asked for.

 

9:43am

Council is changing the rules in terms of what it will and won't fund, says Jo Davidson, director for children's wellbeing.

Parents are not "forced" to move children from their current schools, or out of the county.

 

9:38am

"We should be providing the statutory minimum and money will be saved," councillor and cabinet member Jeremy Millar adds.

9:29am

Other grants and opportunities available to SEN students to help them meet the increased price, Mr Hough says.

 

 

9:27am

There would be a potential saving of £680,000 if all pupils  changed to their nearest school.

But unrealistic, Mr Hough says.

The actual figure given and used - £250,000 - is based on 20 per cent of pupils buying a vacant seat, 60 per cent moving to their nearest school "over time" and 20 per cent making their own way.

9:23am

Committee is now hearing a presentation from Andy Hough.

24 per cent of pupils transported would be affected by affected by the changes.

9:18am

Council members are able to call-in a review of a decision made by cabinet or a cabinet member after it has been made but before it has been implemented.
The committee has no power to overturn a decision made by cabinet however, it can only request the cabinet to reconsider its decision.

9:15am

The committee claims that the decision does not appear to have followed decision-making principles set out in the constitution and that it is not clear that the cost-modelling has taken the full cost impact of the decision into account across all areas of the council’s operation.
Members seek assurance therefore, that the total anticipated net financial effect is "achievable, realistic and proportionate".

9:08am

Councillor Harvey discussing grounds for call-in.

Comments (5)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

12:28pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Frustrated2014 says...

Frustrating! We feel we are being penalised for choosing to support our local catchment school. This is something we strongly believe in and don't think parents should have a 'choice'. We should all want what is best for ALL children, not just our own. I cannot believe how often families remove their children from their local community to attend another school. The Hereford Councils proposed changes penalise families who support their local schools. It is appalling.
Frustrating! We feel we are being penalised for choosing to support our local catchment school. This is something we strongly believe in and don't think parents should have a 'choice'. We should all want what is best for ALL children, not just our own. I cannot believe how often families remove their children from their local community to attend another school. The Hereford Councils proposed changes penalise families who support their local schools. It is appalling. Frustrated2014

1:30pm Wed 15 Jan 14

Ladybird2000 says...

More openess please - I am fortunate in that the proposal does not affect my child however it is so infuriating that the council proposes such an unfair proposal that penalises families who choose to send their children to a school that may not be the nearest one. I would like to know the exact cost of sending my child to school and see the equivalent funding be given to the school to provide their own school transport. Once again the rural community is an easy target for the council.
More openess please - I am fortunate in that the proposal does not affect my child however it is so infuriating that the council proposes such an unfair proposal that penalises families who choose to send their children to a school that may not be the nearest one. I would like to know the exact cost of sending my child to school and see the equivalent funding be given to the school to provide their own school transport. Once again the rural community is an easy target for the council. Ladybird2000

9:07am Thu 16 Jan 14

Mr.Herefordian says...

I read that Councillor Morgan left the meeting resulting in no cabinet member being present for most of meeting, remember her record when children's cabinet member.
I read that Councillor Morgan left the meeting resulting in no cabinet member being present for most of meeting, remember her record when children's cabinet member. Mr.Herefordian

2:06pm Thu 16 Jan 14

jb7821 says...

In terms of the effect on parents with children currently at school: having finally got our child settled happily (in our CATCHMENT school) we will not be moving to a nearer school as a result of the council's ludicrous proposal.

Neither will we be forking out £720 a year however. We will be driving each morning and afternoon. Yes, it increases traffic on the roads whilst children are about and yes, it increases polution - but the council gives us no realistic alternative.

I would like to know how this saves money however. I expect some parents will pay to keep their kids at the current school - so the current bus will keep on running. And no doubt some will go for free transport to the nearer school - which will require a new bus to be provided. So I fail to see how running an additional bus 'saves' any money.

What I do see is parents being coerced into paying for school transport because their nearest school is 2 miles closer than their catchment school.

Although you have to admire the council's cunning in astutely exploiting a loophole in the legislation to extract more money from parents. Shame they seem to have forgotten who they are supposed to be representing.
In terms of the effect on parents with children currently at school: having finally got our child settled happily (in our CATCHMENT school) we will not be moving to a nearer school as a result of the council's ludicrous proposal. Neither will we be forking out £720 a year however. We will be driving each morning and afternoon. Yes, it increases traffic on the roads whilst children are about and yes, it increases polution - but the council gives us no realistic alternative. I would like to know how this saves money however. I expect some parents will pay to keep their kids at the current school - so the current bus will keep on running. And no doubt some will go for free transport to the nearer school - which will require a new bus to be provided. So I fail to see how running an additional bus 'saves' any money. What I do see is parents being coerced into paying for school transport because their nearest school is 2 miles closer than their catchment school. Although you have to admire the council's cunning in astutely exploiting a loophole in the legislation to extract more money from parents. Shame they seem to have forgotten who they are supposed to be representing. jb7821

1:44pm Fri 17 Jan 14

jb7821 says...

Deeply ironic - although (sadly) not surprising - that at the same time as this flawed proposal goes through umpteen stages of consultation, presentation, review, re-review for a claimed £250,000 saving (it would be interesting to know what the exercise has cost so far), the Hereford Times is also reporting the council incurring a £5 million annual bill on temporary staff posts.

It seems to me that the council should reconsider its priorities.
Deeply ironic - although (sadly) not surprising - that at the same time as this flawed proposal goes through umpteen stages of consultation, presentation, review, re-review for a claimed £250,000 saving (it would be interesting to know what the exercise has cost so far), the Hereford Times is also reporting the council incurring a £5 million annual bill on temporary staff posts. It seems to me that the council should reconsider its priorities. jb7821

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree