Views are being sought from across the county on proposed changes to home to school transport in Buckinghamshire.
The amount of money Bucks County Council gets from central government is going down, and by 2018 it will have disappeared completely, plus there is a greater demand on the council’s children’s and adult social care services.
As a consequence, the council says it is being forced to look elsewhere for savings, and that includes how it gets children in Buckinghamshire to school, as it currently provides more than its statutory requirements.
In 2012, the council agreed that, in certain parts of the county, it would continue to fund free school transport for pupils who attend their nearest Buckinghamshire school or one that had a strong pattern of preference from the local community.
If the council changed its School Transport Policy to bring it in line with what it is legally required to do, it should save an estimated £0.5 million.
This means the council would only provide free school transport to the nearest secondary school to your home address.
The school could be located in Buckinghamshire or in a neighbouring county and could be an upper, grammar (for qualified children only) or comprehensive.
The council said it knows that some families like to use and pay for its school transport services when they are not eligible for the free service, even where there are alternative public bus services.
This includes those who are under 16 or those over 16 and those out of county pupils who attend a Buckinghamshire school.
For under 16s who live in Buckinghamshire, the council charges the same whether you are travelling three miles or 15 miles.
This means an annual pass for the 2016/17 academic year costs £599.
Currently, the council said it does not make enough money from providing this service to cover its costs and as a discretionary service, the council said it is over and above what it has to do.
The council is looking for feedback from the community on whether there are alternatives it can explore to provide this service in a sustainable way.
The council’s cabinet member for education and skills Councillor Zahir Mohammed said: “We appreciate this is a sensitive subject, so we’re keen to get opinions from as many people and groups as we can, to help us find solutions. By giving us your views, we can hopefully find a way through these issues that’s agreeable to the majority of parents, carers and residents.”
A consultation on the changes launched today (June 7) and runs until Friday, July 15.
To have your say visit www.buckscc.gov.uk/schooltransportconsultation.