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College transport funding for over-16s may be axed

Published date: 06 June 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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TRANSPORT funding for students over the age of 16 could be withdrawn.

Wrexham Council currently spends more than £370,000 per year on transport for over-16s to Coleg Cambria’s Yale Campus and other institutions outside the county.

But a report to go before the council’s executive board on Tuesday details four options for restructuring the transport funding system, one being to withdraw it completely from September 2015.

The report says the council’s current model is “unsustainable on financial grounds” and renders the authority liable to transport students long distances to attend specialist courses.

A cross-departmental working group was established in October last year to draw up a future policy for discretionary education transport, ultimately recommending the withdrawal of provision for post-16 transport.

The report states: “In order for changes in transport arrangements to take effect in September 2015, the changes in policy need to take place prior to September 2014.

“This is due to the need to notify parents and learners of the transport arrangements prior to October 1 of the preceding year in order for them to consider this in their decision as to which school or college to attend.”

Other options include restricting transport to destinations within Wrexham, instituting a charge which could vary according to the distance, and devolving funding to colleges and schools.

Limiting transport to sites within Wrexham would save about £154,000 annually and could mean colleges outside the area providing transport themselves.

The report warns the option to withdraw provision completely “may impact on student numbers if students had to pay”.

Mitigating measures for students would include discounted bus tickets provided by operators.

Members will be asked to give council officers permission to begin a consultation period where the options put forward will be considered, with a further report detailing the preferred option for approval due in September.

The consultation would extend to all post-16 institutions where the council currently sends students, as well as all Wrexham secondary and special schools.

Students and their parents in Wrexham would be consulted, as well as neighbouring local authorities providing post-16 education in schools attended by students from Wrexham.

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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