The argument for not allowing discretion in awarding free school transport does mean that some families will be treated unfairly, but it also has ramifications for school places for children in Wharfedale and Ilkley wards in particular.
I spoke at the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting and argued for logic and fair-mindedness to prevail for children in Burley in Wharfedale. It seems logical that when every child lives over three miles from any secondary school, the statutory test for allowing free school transport, that commonsense and fairness should prevail to allow children to receive help to attend Ilkley Grammar School, which is only fractionally further away for some children in the village.
It seems that the rule that to receive free transport, children must attend their ‘nearest’ school will be strictly adhered to by the Labour-controlled Bradford Council. Children receiving free school meals or whose parents receive certain benefits will still get help but other families who are in hardship because of the decision should go through the appeals process.
Gerry Barker, who is standing for election to the council this month spoke at the meeting and handed in a petition of over 350 signatures from the village.
Caroline Hyde, Chair of The Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust, spoke about the effect this decision will have on children wishing to attend St Mary’s Roman Catholic School in Menston, having recently submitted a petition from families in Ilkley whose nearest school is Ilkley Grammar School. Both argued quite rightly that the savings to the council will be minimal and there could well be more far reaching and unforeseen outcomes.
I would like to add some flesh to these bones. Ilkley Grammar School is always oversubscribed and children are admitted each year on appeal. Demand is likely to increase as developers apply and are given planning permission to build new houses where infrastructure is not keeping place with demand.
In the not-too-distant future children in Burley-in-Wharfedale and Addingham may find they are no longer in the catchment area for Ilkley Grammar School, especially if children from faith schools have to make the difficult choice of going to their nearest school or paying transport costs to have their children educated in the Roman Catholic faith at St Mary’s.
So, in this scenario, one lot of children would be denied free school transport to be replaced by the children who cannot get into Ilkley Grammar because there is no space and who would travel further afield. I don’t think there will be any savings?
I also think that given the pressure on school places in this area that Bradford Council should make it a priority to build a new school. Five hundred children from our area currently go to Guiseley School.
All Guiseley primary schools are full with many new houses being built in Guiseley so pressure for school places will not go away and we may well find that children from Menston and Baildon will not get a place in the future!
I would like Bradford Council to see the bigger picture, to see a sensible plan to meet the growing need for school places and for commonsense to prevail when the Labour Executive look again at ‘discretion’ in the free school transport issue.
Councillor Jackie Whiteley, Conservative, Wharfedale Ward
Applause for a workable Summer Cross solution
Tony Grey should be applauded for coming up with a workable solution regarding The Summer Cross eyesore. Here’s hoping that approval can be granted for art students to provide murals and hide the building.
We need to portray our beautiful town as somewhere that is well cared for and thriving. The Tour de France Grand Depart is a once in a lifetime opportunity to sell our town as a place to stop and visit.
H Thompson, Cambridge Drive, Otley
Parked cars problems are very difficult to resolve
I really was a bit taken aback when I read on your front page last week that Ryk Downs was so pleased that measures are to be taken to improve the parking abuses on Green Lane in Guiseley and Rawdon Ward. The tone of his words could easily give the impression that he and his colleagues, the councillors for Otley and Yeadon, were responsible. The measures to be taken are, or will be, the result of a lot effort by the Guiseley and Rawdon Councillors, working in conjunction with police and our highways officers over quite a long period.
Problems like this where the parked cars are not actually breaking any laws are very difficult to resolve and of course whatever we do the cars will not go away. We just hope that when these measures are put in place the people who are causing this problem will behave responsibly and not create more difficulties for our hard-pressed residents.
Coun Graham Latty, Conservative Chief Whip, Shadow Spokesman Health and Adult Social Care
Their railway knowledge is genuinely second-to-none!
While I am flattered by the accolade given to me by Peter Settle (Letters, May 8), I cannot let his kindly intentioned statement that my “knowledge of railways locally is second to none” pass without comment.
Although I have actively researched local history for over 40 years, my interest in disused railways in the locality is a relatively recent hobby. My knowledge cannot be compared with people who have spent their working lives on the railway in Wharfedale. People like Mr. F.W. ‘Bill’ Smith of Ben Rhydding, whose knowledge of local railways is encyclopaedic and who has a very comprehensive collection of archive photographs. Indeed Bill has kindly provided many of the illustrations that I use in my presentations. I may be considered a good presenter of local railway history but I am certainly not the fount of all knowledge. How good a presenter? Perhaps you would like to judge by coming to ‘By Rail to Otley’, a presentation to the Olicana History Society and the Friends of the Manor House on November 20 at All Saints Church. Visitors are welcome.
Prof Mike Dixon, Tarn Villas, Ilkley
Politics of integrity, based on positive ideas and debate
We write to you as Otley Town Councillors from different political backgrounds, but with a shared view on where politics has gone wrong. It is clear that on a local and national level, politicians are no longer trusted or respected. As a result many people have stopped voting. The MPs expenses scandal caused much of this, but the rot in our political system goes back much further. Here in Otley, political leaflets seem primarily designed to cause outrage or instil fear. Important and complex issues are reduced to patronising headlines and simplistic arguments. This must change if we are to work together for the betterment of our town.
Otley deserves a politics of integrity, based on positive ideas and open debate; a brave politics, willing to admit and discuss mistakes. The challenge for politicians is to rise above cheap, negative campaigning, and to instead offer honest and constructive ideas.
But there is also a challenge for you and everyone else – for voters. Look beyond the fear and anger that is offered by those who want your vote at any cost. Whatever your personal political values, try once again to have faith in the act of voting for someone you believe is dedicated to building a better Otley.
Carl Morris, Otley Town Councillor (Labour)
John Flinn, Otley Town Councillor (Independent)
Tackling highest volcanoes to help rehabilitation centre
At the end of May, I am joining serving and former soldiers and two other MPs in trying to tackle one of the world’s highest volcanoes, Cotopaxi in Ecuador at 19,347 feet.
I am taking on this tough challenge to raise awareness of the Royal British Legion Battle Back Centre, the national rehabilitation centre which provides adaptive sports and adventurous training for injured servicemen and women.
The Battle Back Centre helps achieve the best possible recovery and either return to service duty or make a smooth transition to civilian life. Coaching is provided by Leeds Metropolitan University Carnegie School of Sport and Carnegie Great Outdoors, who will be leading the expedition. After visiting the Battle Back Centre and meeting my team members who have benefited from it, I have learned first-hand how important the work they do is, and that’s why we’re aiming to raise £10,000 so the centre can carry on helping more injured service men and women. The expedition itself will be a gruelling physical and mental challenge that will bring the team together to cope with high altitude, temperatures of minus 10C, acclimatisation and a gruelling final push for the summit of Cotopaxi starting at 1am. We are hoping that through this challenge we will highlight the challenges that our brave servicemen and women who have been injured face, particularly the less spoken about mental scars of conflict. So please help me and the team with our big challenge and support the Royal British Legion Battle Back Centre and its important work by donating either at: http: //www.just giving.com/TRBLEcuador2014 or by sending a cheque payable to the Royal British Legion to Greg Mulholland MP, Battle Back Cotopaxi Challenge, 12 Holt Park Centre, Holt Road, Leeds LS16 7SR.
Thank you very much and I will provide expedition updates from the 28th May on my website and Twitter.
Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West