Group claim Bradford Council shows a bias against faith schools

Ilkley Gazette: Caroline Hyde, who is campaigning to keep free transport to schools in the district Caroline Hyde, who is campaigning to keep free transport to schools in the district

The head of a Catholic school trust has accused Bradford Council of discriminating against faith groups with its latest cuts plan.

The authority has unveiled proposals to end free transport to faith schools in a bid to save cash from the budget.

But at a meeting of the full Council on Tuesday, Caroline Hyde, chairman of Bishop Wheeler Catholic Academy Trust, handed in a petition signed by more than 350 people – mainly from the Catholic communities of Addingham, Burley and Ilkley – calling for a re-think.

She told the Council chamber: “The only way any meagre savings will be made is by forcing Catholic families to pay for transport.

“This is an attack on faith schools.”

The Bishop Wheeler Catholic Trust runs several schools in the area and joining her in support were Alix Lubomski, head teacher of Sacred Heart Primary School in Ilkley, and Tom Rothwell, headteacher of St Mary’s School in Menston.

Councillor Martin Smith (Con, Ilkley) said: “Following the Council petition last night regarding the lack of equality and fairness, I seconded the motion to move the decision process to the executive of Council, where hopefully common sense prevails to reinstate the school to transport proposals for faith schools.”

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) accompanied Caroline Hyde to the meeting for the handing over the petition.

She said: “When Caroline contacted me at budget time it was quickly apparent that the decision to make the travel concession cut had already been made.”

Coun Hawkesworth added: “It is my intention to attend the executive and speak.

“My main issue is a lack of common sense. If Catholic families do not continue going to St Mary’s, it means an even bigger pressure on Ilkley Grammar School.”

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