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Conwy North Wales Politics

Conwy Council looking to make savings in £6.5m home-to-school transport bill

Conwy County Council

CASH-STRAPPED Conwy Council is paying out nearly £6.5m in home-to-school transport costs a year.

They could now look to cut taxis for some children, including Welsh speakers and children with additional needs.

The council is preparing a public consultation questionnaire to gauge where cuts can be made if it alters its home-to-school transport policy.

Conwy has various statutory obligations in terms of providing transport to and from school, but some are optionable.

The survey will feature nine questions asking the public in which non-statutory situations should children receive public-funded home-to-school transport.

It will offer scenarios, and ask whether free home-to-school transport should be offered in such circumstances.

As well as being questioned on transport to Welsh-medium establishments, the questionnaire asks if children with additional needs and some medical conditions should get assistance with transport.

Another question is asked whether parents of a child suffering with “medically evidenced severe anxiety and a phobia” should get help.

Other questions will ask for opinions on whether children with separated parents should get free transport from both addresses, as well as pupils from Gypsy and Roma backgrounds and sixth formers, and children travelling to religious schools.

Conwy’s education and skills overview and scrutiny committee are set to debate the matter tomorrow (Tuesday) at a Bodlondeb meeting where councillors will discuss the proposed questionnaire.

The council says local level home-to-school transport is one of the fastest growing costs in the annual budget, and according to the report, the yearly bill has increased by £2m since 2018/19.

Conwy claims the cost of home-to-school transport has increased with the price of fuel, compliance, and tyre costs, and the council has said a lack of competition for tendering is a concern.

The authority is facing a £24.5m black hole next year and is set to overspend by several million pounds in the current financial year.

The cutbacks follow the authority upping council tax by 9.9%, the highest rise in Wales, slashing service budgets by 10% – with even schools having to make 5% cuts – and predicting more cuts to come next year.

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