The Oxon School Bus Action Group (OSBAG) has published a set of recommendations it wishes county councillors to follow if plans to reduce funding for school transport are pursued.
At an Oxfordshire County Council meeting on Tuesday, Eynsham councillor Charles Mathew (Con), proposed a motion stating: “This council will need to make significant further savings in very many areas and directorates, in order to balance the Budget from 2014/5. This council believes that it is therefore reasonable to review all expenditure, including our Home to School Transport Policy in achieving this unenviable task.”
OSBAG has been fighting plans to change the eligibility criteria for home-to-school transport, which could see funding pulled for those who wish to attend primary schools more than two miles distant from their homes, and secondary schools more than three miles away.
In July councillors deferred their decision on the proposals to allow for further consideration but said the plans had not been abandoned.
At Tuesday’s meeting OSBAG members presented a list of recommendations to councillors, calling for them to publish detailed information relating to cost saving measures and hold public meetings on the transport issue before the start of the next consultation period.
OSBAG’s Sue Moon said: “Our aim on Tuesday was to propose a number of actions that our members would like to see the council carry out before the next consultation is launched. We respectfully request that the council consider these in preparing the consultation documents for the cabinet meeting on November 4.
“Today’s debate has brought the issue of Home to School Transport back into the spotlight and highlighted the strength of feeling it arouses inside the council chamber as well as out of it.”
Cllr Mathew said: “I proposed a motion which used Home to School transport as an example in view of the importance to stress to all that it will, despite the false start last month, be subject to in depth review in the run up to the Budget for next year, as will all other departments.
“I took it upon myself to do this in view of the difficult financial situation that the further reduction in Government funding will cause and to warn that the choices to the council are very bleak when attempting to balance the budget in the coming three years.”
To find out more about OSBAG’S work, click here.