LABOUR leader Cllr Derek Bateman (Ellesmere Port Town) has intervened in controversial plans to cut subsidised transport for pupils and students attending some of the borough’s schools and colleges.

The opposition leader is seeking more time to involve hard to reach groups and low-income families who could be affected by the proposal. If approved, it would take effect from September 2012.

In a bid to widen the debate, Cllr Bateman has made a special request to the council for more time for consultation.

The consultation is due to close on Sunday, July 3, with the ruling Tory-controlled executive making a decision at its meeting 10 days later, on Wednesday, July 13.

Cllr Bateman has asked the council’s chief executive, Steve Robinson, to refer the issue to the children and young people’s scrutiny committee with a decision being deferred until the next executive on September 7.

“We believe the executive will be able to make a much more informed decision if it considers the results of a longer public consultation alongside the report from the scrutiny committee,” he said.

“The Labour Group feels that many young people and their families will lose out under these proposals.

“This may affect them very seriously.”

The council points out the cost approaches £1m a year and it is not required to provide the subsidy for travel to faith schools or colleges.

Leader Cllr 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.

“Yet an anomaly in our policy means that if this is a faith school, the council picks up the majority of the bill.”