Discretionary transport policy review
Flintshire’s Cabinet will be asked to consider the options proposed for consultation on the discretionary school transport policy areas of post 16 provision and benefits entitlement when it meets later this month.
In June this year, Cabinet members considered a report about discretionary Home to School Transport and agreed to open a review of Post 16 and benefits entitlement policies.
Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Countryside, Councillor Carolyn Thomas, said:
“Post 16 transport to college and schools and provision of free transport under the “benefits” criterion is a discretionary service. While we continue to face significant reductions in revenue, we are being faced with difficult decisions and we must consider different ways in which services are provided.”
The current Transport Policy states that free transport will be provided for post 16 students living in Flintshire attending a first course of full time study at a school or college, subject to meeting the 3 mile distance criteria and providing the student is attending the nearest educational establishment offering the courses they wish to study. Free transport is provided to specified sites only. These sites are:
All Secondary School sites within Flintshire offering post-16 courses
Coleg Cambria sites at Connah’s Quay, Northop, Wrexham and Llysfasi (for land based courses only),
Chester Catholic High School, Prestatyn High School, Rhyl 6, St Brigid’s School and Ysgol Glan Clwyd, St. Asaph.
Transport is only provided to an educational establishment which is not the nearest if there is a considerable variation between the student’s course and the course on offer at the nearer institution.
Flintshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Youth, Councillor Ian Roberts, explained:
“The discretionary entitlement to free transport under the “benefits” criterion has not been reviewed since 1996. Flintshire is the only Welsh local authority to retain this particular discretionary entitlement. In the current economic climate, we must consider alternative arrangements.
“If we were to propose changes to the school transport policy, consultation must be carried out with all stakeholders including those likely to be affected by the proposed change. At this stage, we are consulting before any decisions are made and the policy is introduced. I hope that people engage with the Council and consider the options which are being put up for consultation. ”
The following options are suggested for consultation:
Options for consideration – Post 16
Option 1 - Maintain status quo. Retain current level of provision as stated in Transport Policy. Current cost is £860,000.
Option 2 - Introduce a charge (suggested tariffs range from £50 per term to £150 per term)
Option 3 - Introduce a charge as in Option 2 but the charge be waived for learners who are eligible for free school meals/entitled to benefits .
Option 4 - Discontinue learner transport for all Post 16 students, all learners to make their own arrangements.
Option 5 - Exclude Welsh medium and faith education from Options 2 and 3.
Option 6 - Exclude Welsh Medium only from Options 2 and 3.
Options for consideration – benefits entitlement:
Option 1 - Maintain status quo and continue current policy – current cost approximately £10,000.
Option 2 - Remove provision completely with effect from September 2020.
Option 3 - Phase out provision i.e. no new students receiving benefits entitlement with effect from September 2020 - would result in decreasing numbers of students receiving benefit year on year and ceasing completely in 2023.