Posted: Mon 19th Nov 2018

Council want your thoughts on discretionary £300k faith school transport provision for people living in or visiting the wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Monday, Nov 19th, 2018

Would you support proposals by Wrexham Council to review the transport provision it currently provides to faith schools in the borough?

As part of it’s Difficult Decisions budget consultation, the council are asking for the public’s opinion on the service, which is estimated to cost £302,000 a year to provide.

There is just a week left to have your say in Wrexham Council’s Difficult Decisions consultation – a process which is asking members of the public how they think the local authority can save an additional £9 million between 2019/20.

These savings are in addition to the £33.8 million worth of cuts and savings made locally over the past five years.

One of the five main proposals being consulted on during the process is transport to faith schools and whether a review into the current provision should be undertaken. This also includes considering whether to end this free transport.

Wrexham Council say that due to the “current financial challenge is it facing, it has no choice but to consider reviewing a large number of services.”

Currently transport is provided to 17 faith schools in Wrexham, with around 406 pupils who would be affected by this proposed change.

A prelude / background to the proposals provided in the Difficult Decisions consultation, states: “Within Wrexham we have a number of ‘faith schools’ (i.e. those schools which are intended for pupils of a particular religious faith). Parents can choose to apply for their children to attend these schools.

“The arrangements for home to school transport in Wrexham are that we provide transport for any child living more than three miles (for secondary school), or more than two miles (for primary school) away from the school that they are attending, providing this is the nearest suitable school to where they live.

“We do not provide free school transport to those pupils whose parental preference is not to send them to the ‘nearest suitable school’.

“Should a parent decide that they want their child to attend a faith school, free school transport is currently provided for pupils living further than two or three miles away – regardless of whether there is a non-faith school closer to where they live.

“The provision of this transport to faith schools is ‘discretionary’ (meaning that we are not required to provide it by law).

“We estimate that providing this transport currently costs us around £302,000 per annum, and therefore we want to review the current arrangements for this provision, and consider ending this free transport.

“Any changes in this area would affect transport to 17 schools in Wrexham, and there are currently 406 pupils who would be affected by this proposed change.

“If we were to proceed with this review, we would also need to undertake consultations with all schools, parents and other interested stakeholders such as the diocesan authorities; and would want to ensure that there was no detrimental impact on pupils’ education as a result.

“We would also need to ensure that any changes made as a result of this review and consultation would be implemented at an appropriate time (e.g. should this proceed, the earliest it could be implemented would be the start of the school year in September 2021).”

So what happens next?

Once the consultation closes, the results will be analysed and findings presented to all councillors in December.

These findings will help shape the decision making process for the budget for 2019/20. This will then be presented to the executive board in January 2019 for approval before being formally signed off by Full Council in February 2019.

Wrexham Council never listen anyway!

A comment frequently seen on social media and now acknowledged and addressed by Wrexham Council as part of the consultation promo.

In a statement published by Wrexham Council on its news blog earlier today, the local authority says it recognises people’s “frustration when it comes to consultations and the responses to them” and that the choices being put forward won’t be popular ones.

However Wrexham Council is urging people to take part, stating: “Since the start of austerity in 2008/9, every organisation has had to go to the public to find out what they think about some of the difficult choices they’ve had to make, as budgets have got increasingly tighter. And as cuts have continued, many feel that they’re not being listened to.

“But by not saying anything, or by writing this consultation off, you miss the chance to have your say. Don’t.

“As we noted above, these are services that impact on everyone – so the more people that have their say, the better.”

How can I take part in Wrexham Council’s Difficult Decisions 2019/20 Consultation?

You can complete the consultation / read some further information about the proposals on the Your Voice Wrexham website.

Paper copies are also available by request by calling 01978 292000.

You have until November 28th to have your say on the potential changes to bin collections – and other proposals.

We will be providing a break down on the various other proposals featured before the consultation closes, so keep an eye out and make sure you have your say!

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