School transport – concessionary spare seats
Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet will be asked recommend the preferred rate for concessionary spare seats for school transport when it meets on 18 December.
Legally, the Council needs to provide free home to school transport for learners of compulsory school age attending secondary school who live 3 miles or further from their nearest suitable school and 2 miles or further for primary school. Flintshire’s Home to School Transport Policy reflects this.
Where subsidised transport is provided by the Council and parents want to use this service but their children do not qualify because they do not meet the distance requirements, the Council can, by law, charge for this provision and any spare seats on the transport can be sold to pupils who are not entitled to free travel. These places are called concessionary spare seats. These seats are not guaranteed and can be withdrawn (and a refund given) if the seat is later needed for a pupil entitled to a free seat.
The recommended cost for 2019/20 is £150 per term or £450 per year, an increase of £50 per term on the current cost.
Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Countryside, Councillor Carolyn Thomas, said:
“We need to recover as many of the costs as possible for providing this transport and, at the new proposed rate of £450 per year, the cost is still less than 50% of the full cost of providing concessionary seats. Although this creates financial pressures for the Council at a time of austerity and when difficult decisions are being made on wider budget issues, the Council considers that it would be unfair to raise the charges to a full cost recovery for the service over such a short period of time. This option provides a balance between full cost recovery and the affordability of the scheme for parents, particularly those with a number of children travelling to school on these services.
“Transport will remain free to the nearest school, including Welsh medium or faith, if living over 3 miles away or on a hazardous route. It is important for parents to be aware of this when currently making choices of which high school to send their child to.”
If approved, and after consultation with schools, the charge will be introduced from September 2019 and will, in future, form part of the annual review of charges across all Council services.