Birmingham City Council is consulting on how it provides transport for children to get to school.
The council’s current provision is more generous than statutory requirements and has not changed since 1989. There is also an over-spend within the service – predicted to be £5m by March 2012. The school transport budget is currently £16.8m, which covers bus passes, minibus hire, private hire and supervision.
The council has a legal duty to provide free transport to eligible children, such as those with special educational needs, disability or mobility problems, those who live over a certain distance from school and some from low income families.
Councillor Les Lawrence, cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: “We need to make the service more efficient and focused on opportunities for children to travel independently where possible. However, although our ‘home to school’ policy forms part of the council’s overall budget consultation, we are not making any specific recommendations and want to hear views from as broad a range of people as possible.”
Doreen Wiffen-Jones of Parent Views Count said: “We are facilitating the first part of Birmingham City Council’s two-part consultation on home to school transport. A forum will take place on 6 and 7 December for parents and carers of children and young people with disabilities to give their views, which are to be used by the council to inform the review of this service.”
The council wants to hear the views of parents, pupils, carers, teachers and governors, transport contractors, faith groups and other relevant organisations and individuals on issues such as:
• How can the service better meet your needs at the same or lower cost?
• What alternatives can you suggest on how children can be helped to get to school?
• How can money be saved on the provision of transport support?
• How can the council, schools and families work together to support and maximise pupils’ independence?
The first stage of the consultation ends on 20th January 2012 in order to have a more detailed consultation in February based on initial feedback. The whole consultation runs until March 2012. For further information visit www.birmingham.gov.uk/transport-consultation