Plan to axe free bus passes for faith school pupils in Calderdale

Trinity Academy and St Catherine's Catholic High School at Holmfield, Halifax.
Trinity Academy and St Catherine's Catholic High School at Holmfield, Halifax.

MORE than 100 Calderdale children who attend faith schools might have to pay for their bus travel in future.

“Neighbouring local authorities have tackled this difficult problem by withdrawing school bus passes that they are not required to provide by law and we are going to have to look at this option too,” said education spokesman Coun Ashley Evans.

The change could save more than £62,500 over five years according to a report to the cabinet which recommends consulting parents and carers.

Under current legislation, the council has a responsibility to provide passes for children under eight who live two miles or more from school and children over eight who live three miles or more from school.

Children with disabilities, special educational needs and children living in low income families also qualify.

The law also says that free home-school transport should be provided to children from low income families attending their nearest denominational school based on religious belief. Calderdale Council currently provides transport for children regardless of family income.

If the cabinet agrees, free home to school transport to denominational schools would be removed for all but the most needy families in 2014/15 at the earliest.

Further savings could be made by scrapping passes for pupils attending Calderdale schools when there is a nearer suitable school outside the area.

A total of 177 children in Calderdale currently receive free or subsidised passes to travel to denominational schools.

Of these, 75 use them to attend Trinity Academy, at Holmfield, Halifax, and 43 use them to get to nearby St Catherine’s Catholic High.

Another 49 attend the Blessed Trinity Catholic College, in Burnley.

It is estimated that about one in five would continue to qualify for a pass if the council changes the criteria as planned.

If some passes are scrapped, parents will still be able to through the appeals process, according to young people’s services director Stuart Smith. +