A NESTON mum has spoken out against proposed changes to the council’s home-school transport policy which she says will leave her with ‘no viable option’ for getting her daughter to school.
Barbara Rivers has a daughter at Chester Catholic High School in Handbridge and at present receives a faith school subsidy from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) for her daughter to travel by bus to school.
She said: “We live in a rural area and public transport is not an alternative. It is infrequent and unreliable and there are a number of safety issues which would concern me.
“I drive but in order to get my daughter to school on time I would have to give up work.”
Up until 2008, transport to faith schools for pupils living more than three miles away from school was free. From 2008, parents have been charged £299 per year.
Barbara and husband Steve chose a Catholic education for daughter Eleanor following her primary education at St Winefride’s Catholic Primary School in Neston.
“If they take away the subsidy they are effectively taking away my right to a Catholic education for my daughter,” she added.
CWaC is asking parents, carers and young people for their views on the suggested changes which, if implemented, will take effect from 2012.
The proposal, which could save tax payers about £1m a year, is also to withdraw travel subsidy for post-16 students.
Council leader Mike Jones said: “This is very much an issue of equality and fairness.
“Parents accept that if they choose a school outside their catchment area, they are responsible for travel costs.”
John Murray, headteacher of Catholic High School disagrees.
He said: “For Catholic parents the catchment area does not apply in the same way as for community or foundation schools. For Catholic parents the nearest school is the nearest Catholic school.”
The open consultation runs until July 3. To give your view there is a drop-in session at the Northgate Arena on Thursday, June 23 from 2.30-7.30pm.
Alternatively, complete the questionnaire online at the council's school and transport page, email comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org or return a paper copy of the questionnaire to CWAC School Transport Consultation, Children and Young People’s Services, 3rd Floor, HQ, 58 Nicholas Street, Chester, CH1 2NP.
Feedback will be considered by the council’s executive on July 13.