Wrexham families urged to make bus feelings clear

Reporter:

Matt Sims

A RADICAL overhaul of Wrexham Council’s school transport policy, which could see pupils only getting free buses to their nearest school, could be brought in next week.

The proposals, which were put out to public consultation towards the end of last year, have caused huge controversy in Chirk, where pupils have historically been able to get free school transport to Ysgol Dinas Bran, in Llangollen.

Now Wrexham Council is recommending the changes are made from September 2012 onwards, with the authority’s executive board to make a final decision at a crunch meeting on Tuesday.

Chirk county councillor Ian Roberts has appealed for the people of the town to turn out in force and make their feelings known. Under the new policy youngsters would only be able to get free buses to Ysgol Rhiwabon.

Cllr Roberts said: “The school was set up in 1894 with Royal Assent for the communities of Llangollen, Chirk, Trevor, Fron and the Ceiriog Valley.

“It has always been our community school and these links go back 110 years.

“Any movement away from free school transport is almost like taxing the communities of Chirk for going to their own community school.”

A number of protests have already been held by Chirk residents at previous meetings to the discuss the issue.

Placard-waving youngsters and parents turned out at a meeting of the executive board in July last year at which councillors first decided to launch a huge public consultation into the proposals.

Meetings were held at different locations, with many turning up to oppose the plans at an event at Chirk Parish Hall in November.

Cllr Roberts added: “I do hope the public will attend this meeting and make their feelings known - the strength of feeling in Chirk has been enormous.”

Chief learning and achievement officer John Davies said: “(The executive board) decided there was a need for change in order to comply with legislation from the
Welsh Assembly Government to bring us in line with neighbouring authorities and address issues of potential inequality.

“We’ve conducted a public consultation, which was long and extensive. We are not surprised by any of the issues raised.”

In total, the authority received 118 e-mail responses, 53 letters and 14 summaries of meetings held.

Concerns raised included parents on lower incomes not being able to afford to send their children to their preferred, rather than nearest school.

In response, the authority says that, in the interests of equality, it would be ‘unwise’ to make exceptions in any area of the county.

See full story in the Leader

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