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Calls on Leeds City Council for U-turn on free transport
A council is being urged to reconsider its decision to axe free transport to faith schools.
Guiseley and Rawdon councillor Pat Latty made her appeal after speaking out at a full Leeds City Council meeting against the administration’s plans to stop providing free transport for pupils who attend faith schools in Leeds.
The local authority estimates it could save up to £4.7m a year if it abolishes the free provision. But Coun Latty spoke against the proposals, which were ratified by the Executive Board in July.
She said: “I think these proposals are extremely unfair. You only have to look at the example of the outstanding school of St Mary’s in Menston. Children attend that school from right across Leeds, and the majority of them do not come from wealthy families. These families will be hit extremely hard by having to find the money to get their children to school and back. I have no doubt that some children will have to leave St Mary’s for schools nearer their home; this is grossly unfair on the children affected.
“The Council also seem to have failed to consider the impact on the already hard-pressed A65. It is already gridlocked at peak times, and if parents are forced to drive their children to school it will only exacerbate this problem.
“There’s still time for the Council for re-consider this decision. I hope they do so.”
Thousands of parents – including many from St Mary’s in Menston – signed a petition urging Leeds City Council to abandon plans to scrap free transport for children travelling to faith schools.
But the proposal was voted through at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive committee.
Free transport to faith schools across the city will stop from 2015 – although it will remain available to pupils from low-income families.
A report to the executive committee said: “There are major budget implications if no change in policy is agreed in readiness for 2013/14 as, not only will savings be unachievable in this financial year, it will also leave a legacy of uncontrollable expenditure for many years to come.”
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